Here are some of the tools I use for roofing, It’s not a list of specialist professional roofing kit like nail guns and tile hoists, because that belongs in the realm of full blown professional roofer, and they will already have their own tools and own tastes. This is the kit I pick up and use everyday to earn a living, particularly for small repair work and service calls, some of it I modify slightly and If I do I will tell you why.
Flat pry bar
If you’re going to buy one I recommend the 18-inch Roughneck flat pry bar it’s good quality and at 460mm (18″) long it strikes the perfect balance between being easy to handle but long enough to supply good levering force. Made by the same people who brought you the excellent Gorilla bar range below.
Pry bar – A superb tool for not only roofing but general DIY, thanks to it’s flat profile you can slip these between narrow surfaces like roof tiles, floor boards or nailed wood. Also fantastic for levering off stubborn and rusty gutter brackets.
Large pry bars
As far as Im concerned everyone should have a good set of levering bars. The best of the bunch is the Gorilla bar range. They have a rouged last a lifetime construction, and a near perfect design for levering.
For 90% of jobs I use the 36″ version, but I have the 48″ model as well. Great for levering up floorboards, slabs, drain covers, concrete posts, removing cast iron brackets and downpipes, or stripping flat roofs, especial when twinned with a border spade as seen in my video on how to strip a flat roof.
The slate rip or slasher, is designed and built for removing nails and therefore slates by means of pulling or chopping of the nails. I favour the basic clawhammer to go with this as hammering the handle of the slate rip is required. Good balance and lack of a big spike, as with a slaters hammer, reduces accidental injury. I also recommend a slate ripper with a defined 90 degree handle like this Faithfull slate ripper as against the forged version with a curved handle.
Best slate ripper – A curved forged handle does not provide a solid square face to strike, the hammer can then glance off it and hit the arm or hand that holds the rip. I have hammered my hands lots in the past with this old type forged slate rip and it quickly gets very tiresome.
Another tip I can give you is re-cutting and re-grinding the head of the slate rip. Firstly I find the head of the rip too large to easily manoeuvre underneath slates to locate the nails, particularly on small slates or ‘head fixed slates’. The standard tiny cutting edge for nail chopping is too small and hard to locate for easy repetitive chopping of nails, and the rounded edges allow missing should you be a small amount out. I did my first slate rip modification 20 years ago at least, and find it to be a massive improvement leading to faster, better work.
Modifying a slate rip – Tools are a personal preference to every tradesman and tastes vary. For me you cannot beat this modification, a reduced head size and larger cutting surface make slate removal easier.
Sometimes when working behind a chimney or near valleys or gullies a long full size slate rip is a massive nuisance because the handle gets in the way. All I’ve done really is cut down a slater’s rip to a smaller length and applied the same modifications listed above, in fact I use the shortened slate rip wherever I can.
Short slate rip – It may not look much but for getting into awkward spaces it tips the balance in my favour. A few simple modifications makes an hard job a little easier.
I favour a simple 6″ or 150mm stainless steel pointing trowel like this one for most small pointing jobs.
The simplest way to cut common roofing slate both natural and man made. I like these Edma slate cutters because their lightweight and come with or without a built in nail hole punch. Simple, effective and lasts forever. You can see me using my old pair in this video.
Best slate cutters – Very good quality that lasts, not overpriced and invaluable for roof repairs, oil the spring inside the handle now and again and they will last for years.
Lead dressing tools
I know I nearly always use everything but the correct tools in my videos when giving examples of how to fit lead, and that’s intentional. My videos are designed for people doing weekend projects or for good DIY’ers doing some repairs in a professional manner, it also shows you don’t always need flash tools to get the job done. If you are doing a lot of lead work though consider these lead dressing tools , it will make life easier.
Lead tools – Great for large lead jobs or dressing or bossing roll ends and lead roofs, these tools are easier to work with and will create a better finish than trying to manage without. Consider a small rubber mallet to go with them.
Builders mortar spot
Mixing spot – Simple to use, light, easy to carry and lasts years if cleaned. The builders mortar spot takes up no space for storage because it can be hung on the wall after use. In fact you can see me using it in this video.
Hall Hooks – Slate fixings
Hats off to ‘Mr Hallclip’. A few years ago these slate fixing clips were difficult to get hold of, and to be honest a lot of roofers turned their nose up a little at them, preferring instead to use thick copper wire, or milled lead strips. Me too if I’m honest. I now have a couple of packs of these on my van at all times, much less faff than making your own copper hooks, and neater for the odd slate repair.
Slate fixing Hooks – Simple, easy, neat. If you want a pack at a very reasonable price see Hall hooks on Amazon.
If you don’t know how repair slates or tiles see all my roof tile and slate repair videos in one place.
Often overlooked, the simple Gilbow tin snips, very effective at getting straight cuts in lead and a 8″ (200mm) set is nice in the hand but will cut most things. Not a lot to go wrong and a good pair will last and last.
Lead cutters – I quite like the Irwin Gilbow snips, I find all their blades to be a good compromise between quality and price. The only criticism is I would like a thin rubber coating on the handles for use in winter, you can never have too much comfort.
Ryobi 18v Sander
I started slowly picking up and testing Ryobi tools over my aging Dewalt kit, and this hand held Ryobi 18V sander was my introduction, there wasn’t, and still isn’t anything quite like it as far as I’m concerned. I do a lot of fibreglass roofing and thought I’d try out this corner sander back in the days of early NiCad battery versions, It was an instant game changer for me, it really is that good. I use it on roofs, in the house, sanding doors, sanding plaster walls down, sanding frames, rounding off wood, you cannot beat this.
Cheap easy sanding – Combine this with the detail sander sheets from Toolstation ( 10 pack for £1.50 ) which are a near perfect fit and good quality, and you are away. I even let a painter and decorator I know have a go with it, and I had to wrestle it back off him. If you hate sanding you will love this.
Ladder staging system
A lot of people have seen me working from a lightweight scaffolding system and ask me what it is and where they can get one, a ladder staging system is basically a system of strong lightweight brackets, handrails and kicking boards that attach to a set of matching trade ladders. Whilst it does not replace full scaffolding, it does provide a safe working platform and comply with BS1139 Part 5 / HD1000
Ladder staging – Fast to put up and take down means no more unhappy customers when the scaffolder doesn’t turn up for up to two weeks after a 1 day job. The only downside is that you have to be careful not to overload, or load-up the platform with roof tiles, materials or men, as there are strict weight limits to adhere to. The list of positives though is nearly endless.
I bought mine a few years ago, and though not a cheap initial purchase it has gone on to pay me back multiple times over. It is so versatile there is no way I would be without one now, anywhere you can use it not only will you be safer, but the work will be easier and therefore the quality and speed of your work will benefit.