Slate Roofs

A slate roof is a premium roof system made primarily out of natural slate tiles and other slate roofing materials. It’s one of the most beautiful and long-lasting roof systems on the market.
The slate itself is mined and cut into square tiles that are installed on your roof one at a time. Every individual tile has to be handled carefully because they’re easily breakable. As long as your slate roof is installed and flashed properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about it again.
A slate roof is one of the most beautiful and expensive roof types on the market. It’s also one of the most durable and longest-lasting. It’s hard to put an exact number on the lifespan, but there’s no reason a slate roof shouldn’t live around 75 years or even close to 100 years.

Hiring a reputable roofing contractor is crucial to your slate roof investment. As long as your slate roof is installed and flashed properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about it again.
That makes hiring a local roofing contractor that has experience installing slate roofs like Taylor and Sons Roofing of Wakefield, vital to your roofing investment. The reason for this is because it takes a really skilled roofer or someone that’s been trained properly to handle and install the slate tiles.
Each individual tile has to be carefully handled because they’re easily breakable. If the installers don’t know how to do this, the slate tiles will break, you’ll have problems (leaks), and your roof’s life will be cut short.
Although slate roof tiles are rectangle in shape, they can however, be trimmed into special shapes such as clipped corners, fish scale, diamond and hexagon. They are also available in various thicknesses ranging from 3/16” to 1 ½” with the standard thickness being ¼” – 3/8”.

Things That Impact The Life Of Your Slate Roof

While a slate roof is considered a lifetime roofing system, there are a few things that determine if it will indeed reach its potential lifespan.

1. Hiring a roofing contractor that has experience installing slate roofs

As long as your slate roof is installed and flashed properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about it again.
That’s why it’s important that you hire a local roofing contractor that has experience installing slate roofs as it takes a really skilled roofer or someone that’s been trained properly to handle and install the slate tiles.

2. The amount of extreme weather exposed to your slate roof

Normal weather conditions won’t have as much impact on the life of your slate as it does on the other roof types. But if you live in an area that gets extreme weather (tornados, large hail, trees falling, etc.) frequently, it’s definitely going to impact your slate roof’s life.

3. Foot traffic on your slate roof

Slate roof tiles are easily breakable and have to be carefully handled. After your slate roof is installed, no one should be walking on it unless they know how to maneuver around without breaking one of the tiles. If someone walks on your slate tiles and breaks them, it’s going to cause damage that won’t be easy or cheap to repair.

Types of Slate Roof

Natural Slate

Natural quarried slate is the most popular when talking about slate roofs. Natural slate has an exceptionally long lifespan and handles thermal expansion and contraction well. It is also resistant to damage caused by ultraviolet rays.

Fiber Cement Slate

Fiber cement slate is fast becoming a popular alternative to natural slate, thanks to its more attractive upfront cost. It is much lighter than natural slate and can be installed on existing roof decks without additional reinforcement. However, it has about half the potential lifespan of natural slate, but is still longer than other options such as asphalt shingles.

Bituminous Slate

Bituminous slate is similar in composition to common roofing shingles as the main component of both materials is bitumen, also known as asphalt. Both have similar expected life spans, maintenance requirements and installation processes. The main difference is in the outer layer; whereas asphalt shingles have a rough, sandpaper-like feel, bituminous slate has a relatively smoother surface like natural slate.


The Pros:


Increased Aesthetic value: Slate roof in a home immediately stands out; even newer houses look rustic and classy.


Durability: A slate roof could last up to 150 years or longer when it is installed properly and maintained well.


Protection: Slate is completely fireproof. In addition, water cannot penetrate a slate, and it also won’t be affected by things like mold or fungus.


Eco-friendly: A slate roof is one of the best roofing material choices when thinking about the environment because it can be recycled.

The Cons:


Cost – As pretty as a slate roof looks, the cost of installation may put you off. Prices will vary, but you can count on a slate roof costing several times more than a basic asphalt shingle roof of the same size.


Weight – Slate tiles are very heavy, weighing up to 15 pounds per square foot, which puts a massive strain on a home’s structure. Some homes need extra reinforcement in order to be able to bear the weight of a slate roof.


Fragility – Slate may look tough, but it is actually pretty fragile. If, for example, a tree branch fell on your slate roof, this could cause a lot of expensive damage. It may also be difficult finding replacement tiles that match perfectly.


Installation – In addition to being expensive, the installation of a slate roof requires expertise. If a specialist doesn’t do the work, it may not be installed properly, which can lead to big problems. Plus, the process is very labor-intensive. Because the tiles are so heavy and fragile, they have to be treated with extreme care, which means installation can take a long time. And if a roof has a steep incline or things like dormers or valleys, this will slow things down even more. Homes with two stories also pose a challenge because of the extra height involved in transporting the tiles.

Costs of Slate Roof

It’s impossible to give you an exact price without coming to your home and inspecting your roof. However, I can give you an idea on a price range for a new slate roof. For labor and materials, you can expect a slate roof to start around £15.00 per square foot and has the potential to get up to around £30.00 or more per square foot. That means you can expect to pay at least 4 times more for a slate roof than you would for an asphalt roof. This makes slate one of the most expensive types of roofing materials on the market for a roof replacement.

There are several factors that directly affect the price of your new slate roof and some of these factors include:

  • The type of roof you choose (slate roof)
  • The rest of the roof system’s materials
  • Labor and time
  • Your roof’s accessibility
  • The number of penetrations your roof has
  • Your roof’s size and the complexity of it
  • The amount of decking that may need to be replaced
  • Dump fees
  • Operating costs

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know when a slate roof needs replacing?

You can examine and determine whether to repair or replace your slate roof by looking for moisture damage in the attic and on the rafters, checking fallen slates for firmness by tapping on them with your knuckles and checking for active leaks in the attic and in living areas.

What is the maintenance of a slate roof?

Regular maintenance should include cleaning gutters at least twice during the fall and once in early spring, and replacing damaged slates promptly. Every five to seven years inspections should be conducted by professionals experienced in working with slate and steep slopes.

Can you insulate a slate roof?

Yes, you can insulate a slate roof. Most people use spray foam for insulation of Slate roofs. Spray foam and slate roofs have a similar shelf life and therefore work well together as insulation. In fact, spray foam can ensure your slate tiles last even longer.