How Do I Fix My Roof (Cheaply)?

A week of rain has revealed a leak where my porch roof joins the house. The water apparently drips inside of the shoddily-installed siding, then comes through the top of the window frame (and inside). The house has an old slate roof that has been sealed.

I plan to replace the entire roof within the next two years. In the meantime, is there some kind of insulating-expanding caulky foam or DIY tar I can slather into the porch/house gap? I don’t think that tar paper, tin flashing or shingles are workable, since I’d have to pound the material into ancient slate.

I’m not very handy with DIY stuff, so I’m looking for idiot-proof suggestions. I know the best idiot-proof solution is to call a roofer, but I’m currently a little on the broke side.

You could buy some flashing which is baiscally a strip of galvanized metal. You can get it in v shape. Install it with caulk of some kind. You can do it yourself. It should last a couple of years.


I apologize for my ignorance, but can one buy caulk that is glue-y enough to hold flashing on through wind, rain, snow, 'n ice?

I did leave out one part.

My bad.

You caulk and then nail the flashing down.


Lonesome, can I nail down stuff to an ancient slate roof? I guess the slates themselves are nailed down to something . . . so, yes?

There are no wooden facia boards above the porch roof? The porch roof is an extension of the roof itself? If so you may need to use a product like liquid nails.

I have no idea about driving nails through slate.

There’s stupid-ass vinyl siding that wasn’t installed very well, so the facing boards aren’t visible (and possibly not there anymore).

Hang on, folks. Where one plane abuts another in building construction, you need flashing. Flashing goes underneath roofing, behind siding, and is part of a water management system which includes felt paper, bituminous membrane, drip edges, and so on.

From what I gather in the OP, the siding details are suspect, as slate is an excellent roofing product, and most contractors who install it are specialists. The slate guys would have placed a step or continuous flashing where that roof meets the siding. If the siding wasn’t done well, then you may have no building paper/felt paper/bituminous membrane behind the siding.

Contrary to the views of some, siding isn’t impenetrable. Wind-blown rain can and will get behind siding, hence the need for details which redirect moisture back outside the wall/roof envelope where it causes no damage. Using a zipper tool, the bottom course of siding can be unhooked from that above to expose the problem area. Without seeing more, it’s difficult to recommend a course of action or quantify a cost. It could be $50 or $500. Posting a link to digital photos would help greatly.

Slate roofing? Do Not Nail! The slates are fragile and break easily. They are hung or supported by metal hangers. If you have a slate roof seek professional assisstance.
If you don’t know what your are doing or how to do it you can do more damage and have additional expensive repairs.

So, it looks like I’m kind of stuck with calling a professional. Rats!

For those who posted about slate roofs: My roof is 60-80 years old and the pre-loan inspector told me that even though it looks like crap it was the best roofing ever made. In your opinions, do I keep my quaint roof and do repairs as necessary, or eventually replace the whole shebang with boring shingles?

This is the only leak (thus far, knock on wood) that has sprung up.

Thanks for the input. This is my first time living in a part of the U.S. where houses have slate roofs. They are a complete mystery to me . . .

Slate is an outstanding roofing product-extremely durable and problem free so long as it’s installed correctly and given periodic maintenance.

Your problem really isn’t a roof issue. My bet is the source of your leak will be found behind the poorly detailed siding/roof interface.