Most of Europe uses a hook system, where each slate hangs on a hook, to install roofing slate. In the US, the most traditional method is using two nails to secure each slate to the decking. Many people will scoff at the idea of breaking away from “tradition” but with less slate being installed year after year, it’s important to keep an open mind. Why is France installing 50 times more slate than the USA each year all on hooks. Why is the cost of installation almost half of what it is here in the US?
If you compared the rate at which slate roofs were being replaced by asphalt shingles to new slate roofs being installed, it would be a landslide. There are many reasons for this:
- Lack of education – Less slate roofers are coming up through the ranks because less people actually know how to install slate roofs properly. This leads to situations when an inexperienced roofer will more often quote a slate tear off / shingle replacement compared to the repairing of the slate.
- Slate roofs are expensive – It does not matter to the homeowner if a slate roof lasts 100 years if the choice is between a roof and a college education for their child. Due to the high labor costs and price of slate, converting quotes to jobs is harder than it ever has been.
- Who’s installing slate? If it is not a government building, university, church, or multi-million dollar home, where is the work coming from? Installation of slate is priced out of the market more often than not and this needs to be addressed.
What is Qwik Slate?
The QWIK Slate installation process utilizes the traditional European slate hook method with the addition of placing a series of hooks, pre-applied on a strip, therein creating a super fast application and a superior attachment of the slate to the roofing surface. All Qwik Slate hooks are 12 gauge 304 grade stainless steel anodized black for maximum strength and beauty.
- Eliminate installation mistakes. The system is as simple as nailing the roofing strip in the right place and then hanging the slates on the hook.
- Incorrect nailing can lead to broken slates over time. If a slate is nailed too tight and there is a knot in the slate below which causes some unsteadiness, a snow load could cause the slate to break. Over or under nailing is the single biggest cause of slate failure. (Mechanic’s failure, the installer over or under nailing 1% to 3% on your average roof (30 sq of 18X12= 4,800 slates equals 50 to 150 potential problem slates.)
- Hooks are pre-attached which keeps uniform spacing. Placing adjacent slates touching each other promotes capillary action therein causing retention of moisture and lessening of the useful life of the slate and the creation of mold, fungus and rot.
- Faster installation leads to reduced labor which leads to more jobs.
- Excellent for large flat surfaces but what about cut up roofs with hips, valleys, dormers? No matter how “cut up” a roof is the field area is almost always a larger percentage of the roof.
- How do we know it will last for as long as a traditional slate roof if the strip system has only been around for less than 10 years? Stainless steel will last several hundred years. The strip is only a spacing and placement vehicle, each hook is individually attached to the roof with a ring shank stainless steel nail, the “strip” could be totally cut out after installation and have no effect on the performance of hook fixing the slate.
- How does it differ from the European method? Hook fixing in Europe is traditionally done on battens – most hooks are hung on the batten (think of a coat hanger only square and made to fit tight to a square bar/rack) and only nailed in places where a vertical batten prevents the hook from being placed over the horizontal batten.
- Can wind affect the slate position and “lift” it over the hook? Hook fixing actually provides a better resistance to wind uplift, the slate is hooked at the bottom of the slate, held down at the top of each slate by the hook on the subsequent course and restricted/held in position on each side by adjacent slate hooks.
This post is a reminder to everyone in the slate industry that a major goal should be to not only keep existing slate on roofs, but to find ways to keep installing more slate on roofs. Being able to install slate at a faster rate can reduce labor costs and thus help to win more bids without giving up the quality or beauty of slate.
A brochure on installation.