I am watching a TV program where they are restoring a ruin into a cottage. One thing that left me aghast is the fact that the roof was made with flat, very heavy stone tiles. Ater they rebuild the roof frame with wood, they put the tiles back on the wood by drilling the tiles and using a long nail down through the wood. It's just a matter of time that the nice british weather promotes rust on the nails and a 50 kg tile slides down to kill the poor chap walking by.

I have no knowledge of roof restoration, even less with such unusual tiling, but what is the proper procedure to fasten them without breeding disaster ?

3 Answers 3


You can buy special metal brackets for roof tiles:


Most of the roofs I have seen have used nails, and only in certain places, relying for the most part on the friction and weight of the roof tiles to hold them in place. Whether brackets are required depends on wind speed, wind direction, subroof type, roof angle, roof shape, height, and other factors.

Regardless of whether you use brackets, nails, or screws, they must be stainless, galvanized, or otherwise protected from corrosion. Nails must have ring-threaded shanks.

(Source: manufacturer's instructions for various roof tiles sold in Norway. Check your local building codes and the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your roof tiles.)

  • Your image has gone MIA. Can you remember what it was and where you found it originally?
    – Niall C.
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 14:58
  • @NiallC: I can't remember where I found it, but I asked on the meta if it's possible to retrieve the original URL so I can hunt around the source site. Commented May 14, 2012 at 15:17

The nails are copper. That's the same method used for slates, and the traditional method.

And yes, when that connection gives out the slates DO slide off the roof. This can be caused by wood rot, deteriorated stone, or earthquake. The copper itself won't be the problem.

Read up on slate technique, which is also used for thicker stone like you describe.

  • Mind that loose slate -- Oh, its coming down! Heads below! (loud crash) -- Now, who did that? -- It was Bill, I fancy. Our dose of "Alice in Wonderland" for the day. Slates have been dealing with gale force winds on Scottish crofts for centuries. Seems to be a pretty sturdy construction method as long as the understructure remains intact. Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 22:29
  • And I have real world experience with the edge cases, where half the slates on a building came from an inferior quarry, and in fact started sliding off the roof. Fortunately 50 years earlier someone had retrofitted the building with (yes, true) slate catching gutters.
    – Bryce
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 7:24
  • Where the slate starts breaking up, I don't think there's much in the way of fastening to keep them from following the demands of gravity. Ouch! Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 18:36

In Australia, roof tiles are often concrete. They aren't really fastened to the beams at all (a hole and nail every dozen tiles or so is all), but are shaped so they interlock in such a way that the weight of tiles above them holds them in place.

They can't slide down, they have a lip over the beam and another tile overlapping the join - you'd have to remove the (fastened down) capstones at the top to have any hope of removing them.

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