Roofing Materials: Slate Makes for Fireproof Roofs That Last

Roofing Materials: Slate Makes for Fireproof Roofs That Last

After a long, cold winter and a wet spring, you may have found that it’s time to put a new roof on your home. Chances are that once you take the time to do this, you’ll never want to do it again. Choosing a very durable material, like slate, can mean you won’t have to.

This high-end material is expensive but long lasting. In fact, slate has been a preferred roofing choice of homeowners for hundreds of years. Any material that stands the test of time like this is one that should be on your radar.

Learn the basics and costs here to see whether slate roofing can work on your house.

The basics: Genuine slate is a metamorphic stone most often found in quarries in northeast North America, the United Kingdom and Brazil. As a roofing material, no other product can match its durability, high-end appearance and fireproof qualities. Slate quarried for roofing is a dense, sound rock that’s exceptionally tough and substantial.

Cost: Most slate roofs are expensive, running between $15 and $30 per square foot installed. This figure is at least five times more than conventional roofing materials. However, a slate roof can last 150 years or more — at least five times longer than a conventional roof.

Advantages: Slate is available in a variety of sizes, natural colors and thicknesses, allowing for architectural customization. Some homeowners choose to create a pattern with slate roof tiles by mixing slates of different earthy colors. The color of a particular slate has to do with the quarry it hails from. Hues range from dark gray to green to purple.

Slate roofing is built to withstand even the worst weather, making it an excellent roofing choice for all regions across the U.S., even those that experience a wide variety of weather patterns. Large flying debris picked up by tornado- and hurricane-force winds is all that is known to possibly damage a high-quality slate roof.

Slate is also a fireproof material. While the wood decking installed under slate is obviously not fireproof, fires that affect entire neighborhoods are consistently transferred from roof to roof, and homes with slate roofs are typically spared.

Disadvantages: The high cost of slate roofing tends to be its biggest disadvantage. Common failures found in a slate roof typically arise when it’s installed by an amateur or the slate is low quality. When hiring a slate roofing contractor, ask about his or her experience and for client and material references. A slate roof that lasts 150-plus years can be had only with high-end slate and installation materials, a well-planned design and correct installation.

The high-end slate selected for your project should be supplied by a company that takes pride in a product that has well-known performance records.

Maintenance: Slate is highly resistant to temperature fluctuations and is not typically affected by fungus or mold. However, slate roofs may periodically shed a tile or two. Homeowners should get into the habit of visually inspecting their slate roof at least once a year. If any tiles are cracked, broken, loose or missing, they should be replaced right away. Once again, because slate is an expensive material and experienced installers may be few and far between, repairing a slate roof comes with a high price tag.

Sustainability: Slate often outlasts buildings themselves and can be recycled. Today many slate roofs are constructed with reclaimed slate. Besides the recycling benefits, reclaimed slate is often less expensive than new slate.

A slate roof’s longevity also is an environmental plus, especially because slate rarely adds to construction and demolition debris like conventional roofs do. Plus, slate is a 100 percent natural material.

Are you a fan of slate roofs? Let’s discuss! Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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