The word “slate” conjures images of blackboards, old-fashioned slate signs, tourist-friendly slate caverns, and slate gifts. Few people people think about the durability and effectiveness of slate as a Metal Roofing material. This unassuming stone is one of the most durable roof options available, however; some slate roofs have been around for centuries. While asphalt shingles may currently be popular due to their low cost, slate is still better for roofs. Here’s a look at why it makes an excellent roofing choice.
Slate shingles have been used on roofs in Europe for hundreds of years. They provide a classic look that modern imitations simply can’t match. Roofing slates come in a wide range of natural colours, from classic black, grey and brown to greenish and even purple tones. Over time, the slate weathers, picking up its own unique characteristics. Machine-made roof coverings tend to look the same until they wear out and must be thrown away.
Whether a slate roof is made using traditional hook-fixing or nailing, it will last much longer than almost any other type of roof. Slate shingles can stay weathertight for 80 to 100 years with only minimal maintenance. Even when a roof reaches this age, it rarely needs to be completely replaced.
Most slate roofs require some work as they age, but many slate-roofed cathedrals and mansions have survived to be hundreds of years old. Compared to a conventional asphalt shingle roof, which lasts only for about 15 to 20 years, or a metal roof, which lasts up to 40 years, slate is the longest-lasting option available.
In addition to lasting a long time, slate also survives harsh weather and other damaging conditions without too many problems. This material is extremely water-resistant, absorbing to only about 0.4 percent. That means that it won’t crack or shatter in freezing weather the way that ceramic tile sometimes does.
Slate roofs also resist high winds, such as hurricanes. Roofs covered in slates have managed to survive intact through storms that knocked down multiple trees and power lines. The weight and sturdiness of the individual shingles keeps them in place even in harsh weather. If a few slates do blow off, replacing them is a relatively simple operation.
Hail storms do sometimes damage slate roofs. In serious cases, the hail can even push right through the shingle. Fortunately, the damage occurs only on individual slates. That makes it very easy to repair a hail-damaged roof without too much expense or effort. The most vulnerable slates are soft or thin shingles, especially when they have been installed using the side-lap style, which produces a thinner roof covering. Heavy duty slate roofs can often shrug off even large hailstones.
Since slate is made from natural stone, it’s completely fire-resistant, unlike asphalt and plastic-based roofing materials. This substance also acts as a good electrical insulator, which was why it was originally used in early electric motors. This material is very stable and strong, reducing the risk of house damage from hail, fallen electrical wires, heavy rain, snow and other potentially-damaging factors.
Because of their natural origin and long life, slate roofs have some of the lowest environmental footprints of any roof covering. In many cases, slate is mined from sources close to home. For instance, many of the slate roofs in Europe use Spanish stone for their shingles. In the UK, Welsh slate is considered some of the finest and most beautiful. US homes often use Pennsylvanian, Vermont, or Virginia slate.
These roofs require a little carbon investment to mine and refine the stone, but never have to be thrown away entirely, like asphalt shingles. They can be readily reused in other products after removal from the roof and produce no pollution in the environment.