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Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 -- Fall/ Winter 2010/2011

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Gone to Moose Camp - Ornamental Slate Roofing

Liam Tower, Slate Affair, Inc.

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

Watch out, "Moose Crossing!" No Adirondack style house is complete without a moose somewhere. In this project, the client wanted a roof that would go along with the sticks, twigs, bark, bear carvings, and all the other natural products in the home. Newton Wells of Peck Entertainment Inc. in Morrisville, Vermont, chose a slate roof with a one inch strapping sublayer, copper nails and copper details. He asked me to come up with a design to incorporate all the natural details in the house and to draw attention to it from the road.

I sourced clip art from an internet program to provide the outline of the moose, then printed the picture of the moose on transparency film. This allowed me to project the picture on a wall where I had hung pieces of cardboard big enough to project the size moose I needed for the roof. In laying out the moose, I also had to think about how big it was going to be on the roof, and how it would look with additional details. From the clip art picture above, I made a six foot tall cardboard cut-out. It was then taken to the job to trace the outline on the roof, as you can see in the picture below.

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

In our economic times, this project came with the need to cut cost to provide the client with an affordable price. How did we do this? Well, all the slate used was either slate my client had from other houses, or it was inventory that Slate Affair, Inc. had in its bone yard. This provided him with discounted slate prices. It also played a big role in the layout of the multiple colored slate bands, ornamental ridge bands, and different size slate. In the band bottom to top, we used Vermont fading green, Welsh purple, and New York red. By using all the different color slates, this provided the client with a one-of-a-kind roof.

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

With the moose, I chose to use a Vermont unfading green cut to the “wild slate roof pattern.” This made it stand out in the Vermont black slate background and be visible from the road. The slates were different in size as well: the black being 16 by 14 inches and the green being random widths and 12 inches long. This means that the green slate had to play catch up and would need two or more pieces to make the transition from course to course.

In making the outline stand out, I used my cardboard cutout, as you can see in the picture below. I needed to scribe lines on the slate course below the corresponding areas. I had to make additional cuts to the overlapping slates to the corresponding scribe line. I made the decision to have the black slate surround the moose to help clarify the outline of the moose.

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

You can also see the detail in the head of the moose and the overlying black border. I gave the moose a red eye seeing that the owner is a DJ. In this part of the head, the slate will start to build up more because of many details in a small area. To counteract this, you can see that some of the black pieces overlap other black pieces. Some pieces of slate will be covered completely, but are needed to keep a consistent three inches or more of head-lap and side-lap. While installing designs of this nature, there does not seem to be a right way or a wrong way that I have come across. A lot of the slate goes together with trial and error. Some pieces are installed only to remove them later to trim a half inch off or punch a hole that might be needed.

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

As this project was bringing the 2009 year to an end, I decided to install the date on the backside, using the same methods explained above. All the black slate on this side is North Country black. I also used red, purple and green in the roof. Along with that, we designed and installed a different ornamental band with diamond shapes. At the bottom, I installed a simple octagonal pattern.

The ridge of this house consists of a “wild slate roof pattern” with one side green and the other black. We used one inch thick by six foot long slabs with hand chiseled edging. These are screwed into place and topped with a layer of lead coated copper. This is topped with a copper cap with a wave cut in it and topped with the moose crest.

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

Slate makes it easy to create high quality roofs with unlimited ornamental designs. This makes it simple to provide whatever you and your client decide. Now watch out for that moose!

Liam Tower, Slate Affair, Inc., P.O. Box 677, Enosburg Falls, VT 05450; Ph/Fax: 802-848-7676; Cell: 802-793-8349;; Web:

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

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