Edinburgh Roof Repairs

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This article describes four of the most common roof repairs in Edinburgh. It explains the cause and what the cost for the repair might be.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It can also help you ask sensible questions if you do need some roof repairs.

Changeable weather and strong winds test the resilience of all Edinburgh Roofs. While prevention is usually better – and almost always cheaper –  than a cure (See “Roof Maintenance” article), roof leaks occur on even the best maintained roofs.

Four common Edinburgh roof repairs that we have covered here  are:

  • Repair or replace flashing
  • Replace Cement Skews
  • Slate or Tile Replacement
  • Gutter, Rhone & Downpipe repairs (see gutter cleaning)

Roof Repair 1: – Lead Flashing (Flash Band)

What is flashing / flash band?

  • It is a lead “sheet” that covers a point where tiles / slates meet brick work
  • NOTE: – Other materials besides lead are increasingly used. The value of lead has resulted in thieves stripping lead from roof to sell.
  • A 3 – 5cm deep channel (or chase) is cut into the brick work.
  • One edge of the lead sheet is slotted into this channel and the lead is held in place with bungs or wedges.
  • The lead sheet is folded over to cover the join between the brick work and slates or tiles.
  • The channel or chase is then pointed (in-filled with sand and cement) flush to the brick work

What causes flashing to fail?

  • Lead is hugely durable, lasting 100 years or more. It is more likely that the pointing or brick work will give way before correctly fitted lead flashing.
  • However, because the lead is flexible, strong winds and driving rain can cause it to lift.
  • The most common reason for lead flashing to fail though is poor installation. The expansion and contraction of lead flashing as temperatures rise and fall or condensation penetrating the pointing and then freezing causes the flashing to come loose.

How is it repaired?

  • The durability of lead means it can usually be reused.
  • When this is the case it would be picked out and then re-bedded.
  • Old, worn out flashing would be replaced with new.

What does it cost?

  • £15 to £25 per meter excluding access costs (e.g. scaffolding)
  • Note that minimum charges by roofers may apply

Roof Repair 2: – Cement Skews

What is a Cement Skew?

  • A cement skew or cement fillet is essentially a cheaper and less durable alternative to using lead flashing.
  • As with lead flashing it is designed to make the join between tiles or slates and bricks water tight.
  • It is a sand and cement mix that is run along the length of the tile / brickwork join.

What causes it to fail?

  • Over time cement exposed to the elements will degrade and crumble.
  • Poor installation using the wrong cement sand mix can also be a factor.

How is it repaired?

  • Cement skews can either be replaced with the same or, to create a longer lasting (though more expensive) repair, they can be replaced with  flashing.
  • It is important that failed cement skews are properly removed and then replaced not just covered with more cement. This is often referred to as “Buttering up”. It doesn’t last long.

What does it cost?

Cement Skews on Edinburgh Rooftops
Cement Skews on Edinburgh Rooftops
Chimney Flashing
Lead Flashing round Historical Chimney.

Roof Repair 3: – Slate or tile replacement

What is it?

  • Nails that hold slates in place degrade or corrode over time causing tiles or slates to become loose.
  • Wind can then lift tiles or slates causing them to move out of place.
  • The tiles / slates themselves may also corrode and break or crack.
  • Similarly for tiles these may crack or slip due to weathering, impact or, simply, age.

How is it repaired?


  • The location on the roof of the damaged slate as well as the extent of the damage impacts how it is done. However, in effect, the broken or slipped slates will be stripped out and new (or reclaimed) slates slid into place and secured.
  • New slate(s) will be held in place with the kind of nails that hold the other older slates.
  • A slate hook or lead tag is used to hold the final slate in place.


  • Interlocking concrete tiles are very straight forward to replace.
  • Tiles above the one to be replaced are slid up under the tiles above. Damaged tiles are removed and replaced
  • The biggest challenge can be finding a tile to match the design of the ones already on your roof.

How much does it cost?

  • An £85 minimum charge usually allows sufficient time for up to 4 or 5 slates or tiles.
  • Materials would be in addition.
  • Be aware also in the moving about of slates it can be found that other slates are also not securely held. (See also “Roof Replacement – Strip & Re-slate“)

Roof Repair 3: – Gutter and Down Pipe

What repairs might be needed?

  • Sometimes a repair may not be needed at all. Gutters and down pipes may simply need clearing (See here for more). When a gutter is choked water can overflow and run either under eves or down the side of a building.
  • This water can find its way through degraded pointing, causing water marks inside that give the impression of a leaking roof.
  • Common repairs would range from resealing joints, replacing brackets, hangers or end caps or replacing lengths of gutters or down pipes.
  • An early sign that gutters may need maintenance work is water staining on masonry near gutters or downpipes. Left untreated this can lead to erosion of mortar and a catalogue of other problems.

What causes damage?

  • Lack of regular maintenance / gutter clearing. Have a problem looked at sooner to save money in the long run.
  • Blockages caused by build up of vegetation.
  • Fractures caused either by impact (A ladder being leant against the gutters) or freezing of trapped water.
  • Corrosion; many gutters and down pipes in Edinburgh are cast iron which will corrode over time. They corrode more quickly if left unpainted.

What does it cost?

  • On Edinburgh Tenements the cost of access (scaffolding) will form the bulk of the cost.
  • At ground level clearing of gutters can take from £40 to £100 depending on debris in the gutters and, of course, how much guttering needs cleared
  • Minor repairs such as resealing joints would also often be included in a gutter clearance.
  • Usually a roofer will make a minimum charge of around £85.
Roof Repairs Edinburgh
Slipped slates on a house
Gutter Repair Edinburgh
Gutter Repair: - Securing a Bracket on a bungalow gutter

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