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Slate Roofing

Slate
as a roofing material peaked in popularity in the late 1800s. The
move away from steep roof slopes and the
availability of less expensive roofing products
have caused the slate roof industry to shrink greatly in size. Slate
roofs are expensive too, costing as much as $900 per square (100
feet) compared to say, $60 per square for an asphalt shingle roof.

Nevertheless, the
National Slate Association and the Slate Roofing Contractors
Association of North America
agree that slate possesses an
“extraordinary life expectancy.” In fact, a slate roof
can actually be taken apart and largely put back together. Naturally,
broken slates, worn flashings, and rotting sheathing boards would need to
be repaired, but the slate itself is recyclable virtually forever. A
120-year old slate roof could continue serving the structure at
200-years old. But repairs are best done by the professionals who
recognize that any part of a slate roof can be removed, repaired or
replaced, as long as the slate is still good.

One might ask what
makes slate “still good?” The answer is simple; it is
still good if the exposed surface is smooth, free of pervasive
“delamination,” flaking or other signs of deterioration.
The word delamination refers to the condition when the layers of
slate separate from each other.

There are a few
important points to know about slate roofs. First, it is a myth that
slate roofs require felt underlayment. Felt is only employed as a
protection against rain during the installation of a roof. It is
fine, even if the felt is completely worn to a powder under the
slate. The slate roof still will not leak. If a roofer tells you to
replace a roof because the felt is worn out, that advice is
incorrect.

A good place to ask
questions about slate is the public slate roof central message board,
called slateroofcentral.com, or you could contact one of our certified roofing contractors.

While certainly breathtaking and undeniably long-lasting, many homeowners shy away from using slate as a roofing material because of its high cost. But if you are looking to install a roof that will stick around even longer than you will, it should be a material to consider. Here is some more information to get you started.

Costs

Slate roofs are significantly more expensive than other roofing materials, costing as much as $900 per square (100 feet) compared to say, $60 per square for an asphalt shingle roof. Get a couple price quotes from licensed installers for a better idea of the cost.

Pros

A slate roof can last for hundreds of years, and can be taken apart and put back together virtually forever.

Slate is one of the most fire-resistant roofing materials available.

It is considered a very environmentally-friendly roofing material.

Cons

Slate is expensive to buy and install.

It can weigh between 800 and 1,500 pounds per square, so your home must be structurally sound to hold up the excess weight.

Very few contractors know how to properly install slate roofs.

Durability

Slate is an extremely durable roofing option and should be expected to last for at least 100 years. It can be taken apart and put together, and thus always repaired.

Maintenance

The most important thing to note when it comes to the maintenance of a slate roof is it’s best to avoid walking on the roof if possible. If you or a repairman must walk on the roof, soft soled shoes should always be worn, and the pressure should be applied to the middle of the slate.

Routinely check the roof for water stains, hairline cracks, and to see if there is a powder that can indicate that the stone is deteriorating. Check the flashing and gutters if you notice leaks, and try to remove all debris from the roof before winter sets in. Contact a contractor for all serious repairs.

Common Questions and Answers

How do you know if a slate roof is still good and can be repaired?

The answer is simple; it is still good if the exposed surface is smooth, free of pervasive “delamination,” flaking or other signs of deterioration. The word delamination refers to layers of slate separating from each other.

What are some important facts to know about slate roofs?

There are a few important points to know about slate roofs. First, it is a myth that slate roofs require felt underlayment. Felt is only employed as a protection against rain during the installation of a roof. It is fine, even if the felt is completely wo

History

Slate as a roofing material peaked in popularity in the late 1800s. The move away from steep roof slopes and the availability of less expensive roofing products have caused the slate roof industry to shrink greatly in size.

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