Slate Roof 101: How It Works and What to Expect from It

a close-up of a slate roof and several windows

In construction, there are materials that take things to a higher level. Slate, a finely grained and homogeneous type of rock, is one of those materials. A metamorphic rock, the slate is the result of hundreds of years of geological transformation. Through that process, it acquires a layering that allows people to split it into uniform, thin tiles. Its natural beauty sets it apart from any man-made material out there. A slate roof is capable of making any home look more elegant and distinguished. Additionally, it is resistant and durable without comparison. The following guide will go over every important detail about slate.

What Is a Slate Roof?

The roof of a house gives it personality. For that reason, it is very important to choose well when it comes to roofing materials. Although asphalt, wood and other types of roof materials have some good qualities, slate roofs are the most distinguished. Besides being the longest-lasting material available for roofing, it boasts the highest quality. However, it could be argued that its unique quality is its long and venerable tradition. With over 1000 years of usage in human history, slate is a material that does not go out of style.

The main reason slate roof tiles work so well is that the rock has two lines of breakability: Cleavage and grain. They make it possible to cut the rock in any shape, later splitting it into thin sheets. The result is a set of uniformly shaped tiles with unique style and personality. In their new form, they can be adapted to most architectural designs. As an alternative, some companies offer synthetic slate roofing services. Synthetic slate is made out of engineered polymer composites. Lighter and less expensive than slate, synthetic slate is designed to imitate the color and texture of the real stone.

Pros and Cons of Slate Roofs

aligned slate roof shingles


• Longevity: Without a doubt, slate is the longest lasting material. If treated properly, slate can last well over a century. To put that into context, it must be noted that most roofing materials won’t last more than 30 or 40 years.

• Aesthetic Appeal: No man-made materials come close to the level of beauty that nature provides. Capable of improving any architectural style, slate stands out effortlessly because of its timeless appearance. Furthermore, every set of slate roof tiles has its own texture and color. This results in every slate roof having its unique personality.

• Durability: Being a rock with thousands of years of geological transformation, slate is a naturally durable material. Because it’s incredibly dense in its composition, slate is completely waterproof. At the same time, it’s invulnerable to temperature fluctuation, making it perfect for withstanding harsh weather.

• Low Maintainance: Because it is such a resistant material, slate does not need to be maintained too often. It’s not even affected in the least by fungus and mold, eliminating the need for periodical inspections.

• High Resale Value: A slate roof increases the value of a home instantly. Moreover, its durability ensures it’s permanence, making it a fantastic long-time investment.

• Fire Resistance: Like all other rocks, slate is completely non-combustible. This means it is completely unaffected by fire.


• Fragility: Even though slate is a durable and resistant material, you still need to handle it very carefully. Excessive pressure and violent impacts are capable of damaging it. In the worse case scenario, a tile may break completely. In this case, you will need to replace it. Luckily, there are various companies that specialize in slate roof repair.

• Weight: Weighing an average of 12 pounds per square feet, slate is definitely not a light-weight material. This can make its handling and installation particularly difficult. It can even take its toll on the roof structure. Often, you will have to reinforce a roof in order to begin the installation of slate roofing.

• Difficult Installation: Because of previously mentioned characteristics of slate such as heaviness and fragility, its installation can be quite difficult. Luckily, there are professional roofing companies that specialize in slate roof installation.

• Cost: Slate roof costs are among the highest in the roofing market.

What to Expect from Slate Roofs

old eroded slate shingles

Choosing to install a slate roof is not a small decision. Apart from the material itself being costly, its installation can be quite expensive. However, there is a good reason for it. Because it’s such a high-quality material, you need to handle slate to be with extreme care. During the installation, the workers need to securely attach every inch of stone to the base of the roof.

Because of its weight, slate can generate a huge amount of strain on the roof’s base structure. For that reason, you should consider reinforcement before you proceed with the slate roof installation. Additionally, there may be small gaps between the slate tiles. Although you can easily avoid water leakage by properly installing the underlayment, we recommend you to have any such flaws corrected. Otherwise, slate is basically impervious to any type of damage, greatly reducing the need for performing regular maintenance.

Even though slate is basically rock, there are many colors and styles of slate to choose from. Because it is such a long-lasting material, you should choose the look thinking about any future restyling of the house. Other options, such as burnished slate metal roofs, are also available to the public.

Bottom Line

We can conclude that slate is one of the best roofing materials out there. Even though it can get expensive, installing a slate roof constitutes an investment that adds to the overall value of any house. Slate makes a home more resistant to potentially harmful exterior elements. Visually, it provides a timeless look that is natural and elegant at the same time. Furthermore, slate has the amazing quality of adding strength and solidity to any architectural design. Without a doubt, choosing to install a slate roof can be one of the best decisions a homeowner can make.

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