Slate is a high-end roofing material known for its longevity and irregular but elegant appearance. It also has quite the reputation for its premium cost, but given its advantages, slate has proven that it is well worth every dollar spent on it. Is it for you? What sets it apart from other roofing materials? Read on to find out more about slate as a roofing option.
Slate shingles are basically fragments of shale – a rock-hard substance made of minerals like quartz, carbon, and calcites. Although shale starts out as a soft material similar to mud, thousands of years under large amounts of pressure combined with heat from magma alters the substance to harden it.Slate’s carbon content gives it its characteristic dark coloration, although some fragments can feature light gray colors. This gives slate roofs distinct neutral tones reminiscent of early Europe’s classical architecture, a characteristic that makes the roofing material compatible with a range of color schemes in homes.
Although each piece of slate is hard, it can be split along its “grain” quite easily. This makes it possible for manufacturers to break slate down into smaller, uniformly-sized pieces that can be then installed on roofs. To avoid further splitting during installation, slate tiles are held in place by hooks or brackets.
Slate’s Other Advantages
Once in place, slate’s weight and hard surface is more than enough to help it withstand strong winds, temperature changes, and even moderate impact caused by hailstones and other objects. Because of the material’s exceptional durability, slate roofs are very low-maintenance. There’s no need to worry about problems, like rust spots or mold formations on the surface, because slate has very low porosity (a material’s ability to absorb water) compared to wood and brick tiles. At the same time, slate is resistant to termites, fire, and warping caused by temperature changes, allowing it to retain its appearance through almost anything.
Installing a slate roof takes extra skill, which is why only experienced contractors should be allowed to put one on your home. This is because drilling and stacking slate tiles require some amount of finesse to avoid shattering the pieces. This may cost more than your average roof installation, but the low maintenance costs and impressive lifespan makes it worth the investment, most especially when you can expect your slate roof to last up 175 years. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a slate roof to outlast a home. Asphalt shingles, the most common roofing option, typically last around 20 years while brick tile comes the closest to slate with a service life of 80 to 100 years. Just a quick note: slate is heavy so it might require additional structural support depending on what your home currently offers.
Despite the availability of newer, more affordable roofing options, slate is still one of the most sought-after materials out there. Long-lasting and low-maintenance, its premium benefits support its premium cost, making slate a sound investment.
Brian Chalsma is the president of The Roofing Company, and is Virginia’s most knowledgeable expert when it comes to slate roofing. He greatly values his experience through the years, and shares his stories in the company blog.