slate roofing materials

It is an unfortunate fact that slate roofing materials are getting less common in new homes.

Table of contents for this page.
The Background of Slate. | Benefits of slate roofing | The drawbacks of slate as a roofing material |

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The Background of Slate.

In the middle ages people were known by the trade or business that they carried out, and so the tradition of using surnames came about. John the baker became John Baker. Names like Mason, Tiler, Carpenter, Thatcher and Sawyer come immediately to mind. Likewise does the name Slater, which tells us that the name and trade of the slater has it's origins in our distant past.

slate roofing on a steeple
Slate roofing materials - A section of a steeple roof with shaped bottom edges.
Photo thanks to K Rosseel and Morguefile.

Slate is a fine grained rock of sedimentary origin. It is typically quarried out of hill sides in many parts of the world. Because of it's origin of layers of sediment it has a unique property that made it an invaluable roofing material for centuries.

This property is of course it's ability to be split into thin flat sheets

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Benefits of slate roofing

an old slate roof
Slate roofing materials - Seen here is and old roof that individual slates have started flaking off in layers.
Photo thanks to Stephen Lanighan,

  • As already mentioned slate is extremely durable. Many roofs reach a hundred years old.
  • Slate is totally fireproof, unlike a lot of the composite materials that have replaced it.
  • It is resistant to snow hail or frost.

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The drawbacks of slate as a roofing material.

  • Slate is very expensive compared to it's modern competitors. It now seems that slate roof is only used for heritage reasons.
  • Many areas that once had thriving slate industries have now closed down. Mainly because of the increasing cost of extracting the product but also it is seen today as not being ecologically sound. Slate quarries have left huge scars on many otherwise beautiful landscapes.
  • Much of the world's slate production now comes from third world countries. In particular South America.
  • It is not a DIY material. While not being a highly technical product, slating is a hard and skilled trade and heavy footed amateurs can do more damage than good on a slate roof.
  • Because of it's very nature slate is prone to splitting.

Here is a page on slating terms and tools.

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Please Note! The information on this site is offered as a guide only!  When we are talking about areas where building regulations or safety regulations could exist,the information here could be wrong for your area.  It could be out of date!  Regulations breed faster than rabbits!
You must check your own local conditions.
Copyright © Bill Bradley 2007-2012. All rights reserved.
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