We love slate. It is an amazing material, so durable and long lasting, and yet completely natural-- no toxic chemicals or carcinogens-- just plain old rock. There are a lot of slate roofs around Brattleboro, so while we considered various roofing options, we had a chance to check out a wide variety of slate roofs, along with metal and asphalt, which about covers the majority of roofs in our area. We ended up choosing to work with slate. We bought a few pallets of random width 12 inch slates from a quarry in Poultney and made 6 trips back and forth to pick up salvaged slate from Keene, NH. The salvage slate varied in size-- many measured 12" by 24", some 12" by 22", and some 11" by 20". To learn about how to put up slate, we relied mostly on 'The Slate Bible,' by Joseph Jenkins, and we ordered our roofing nails from his website, since none of the local hardware stores carried exactly what we wanted.
We used a combination of roof jacks, ladders, and hook ladders to reach all parts of the roof. The combination worked well, though by the time the last slate went up, we were ready to stop moving ladders around.