Adventures in Chinese slate: In which I find myself intimately engaged with the harbor freight of slate. :(
When I was preparing to move here I started trying to collect building materials in earnest. I was looking around for roofing tiles and ran across a pile of roofing slate for sale for $400.00 I was intrigued and called around about slate roofing prices to see if it was a good deal. It sure seemed like a super good deal. The guy said the slate was originally from China, was left over from a large job, and had to be gone by the next day. Our land partner at the time went and picked it up in his ford pickup with a rented flatbed trailer. The trailer brakes weren’t working on the trailer and he had to navigate rush hour bay area traffic with 8000 pounds of slate. When I talked to him on his way back to ask him how it was going he said… “well, you couldn’t drive a pin up my ass with a sledgehammer right now!”. Lesson number one: slate is heavy and trailer brakes were invented for a reason. Later, the truck overheated on the way up the hill with half that amount of slate.
When the slate was unloaded we sorted out all the cracked and broken pieces. I got a copy of the slate roof bible which has all the necessary tables for calculating coverage and I figured I had almost 10 squares (a square is 100 square feet of coverage when all the tiles are overlapped properly). We framed up a building a couple years later with plans to put the slates on it. We milled the wood and built the structure to support a slate roof with full 2×8 rafters and a 1 inch deck (probably overbuilt).
I did all the necessary research and planning bought some slaters brackets, a slaters hammer, and a slate cutter. I had to move all the slate again to get it to the building site and in doing so (now knowing slightly more about slate and getting down to the nitty gritty) I tested every slate by ringing it which means I tapped it to see if it sounded dull (cracked) or bright. I guess in being shipped from China- then moved to the distributor— then to the job site—– then to where it was stored afterward——- then to our friends garage——— and then here———–, a few slates broke. I re-calculated and found that my original estimate was off anyway and that with the broken slates out of the picture I was in the neighborhood of 5.5 squares and I need 6.66 squares for my roof! After going through the stages of loss or whatever its called… anger, denial, grief etc…. I reached a state of annoyed acceptance. Oh well, live and learn. I would just have to put this slate on a smaller building. So I moved it again. Lesson two: Slate is still heavy and an accurate estimate of coverage and quality would be in order. (and its hard to pull your hair out when you have dreadlocks ((is that good?)) ) Continue reading