Home > Roofing > Slate Roof: Buyers Guide, Cost, Types, & Maintenance

Slate Roof: Buyers Guide, Cost, Types, & Maintenance

Updated Nov 11, 2022

Updated Nov 11, 2022

Home > Roofing > Slate Roof: Buyers Guide, Cost, Types, & Maintenance

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A slate roof has many benefits to it, but there are several factors to keep in mind when choosing to upgrade your roof to this material. In this article, we’ll talk about the different types of slate roofs, the advantages and disadvantages of this material, considerations to bear in mind, and maintenance expectations.

What Is a Slate Roof?

A slate roof is a premium possibility that’s long-lasting, high-quality, and can add lots of character to your home.

How Long Does a Slate Roof Last?

Slate’s lifespan can be for over 100 years, depending on certain factors, including maintenance, installation, weather extremes, and temperature consistencies. In fact, as long as your roof has been installed and flashed properly, you shouldn’t have any issues with its longevity and durability.

However, since this material is made of natural stone, there’s no guarantee that each tile will be as long-lasting as the one next to it. But your roofing contractor will communicate the warranty included with your purchase and any contingencies this covers.

Types of Slate Roofs

Slate TypeFeatures
Natural– Lasts beyond 100 years
– Contracts and expands
– Various shades available
– Eco-friendly option
– Impenetrable by UV rays
Fiber Cement– Cheaper than natural slate
– Custom formats and shapes available
– Reduced lifespan than natural slate
Bituminous– Smooth texture
– Commonly used for roofing shingles

Natural

Natural slate is the most durable and can last beyond 100 years. It contracts and expands well and is impenetrable by UV rays. It’s also the most eco-friendly slate option due to its lifespan and doesn’t involve any manufacturing process. It’s also available in various shades.

Fiber Cement Slate

This is a cheaper alternative to natural slate and is becoming a more popular alternative due to the custom formats and shapes available. Additionally, it’s lighter than natural slate and can be installed without additional reinforcement. With that being said, fiber cement slate has a reduced lifespan compared to natural slate.

Bituminous Slate

Finally, this option is commonly used for roofing shingles and has a smooth texture similar to natural slate. It’s also flexible and can be installed on roofs with complex shapes.

Cost of a Slate Roof

Expect to pay between $16 and $28 per square foot for slate tiles. Slate’s extortionate cost is one of its downfalls. Plus, as it’s a heavier weight than other roofing options, slate requires inspections before installation to ensure your roof can support the material.

Factors That Affect Slate Roof Cost

Slate roofs’ high cost can steer you toward other materials. Below are some factors that can increase/decrease the installation cost.

  • Labor and time
  • Your roof’s accessibility
  • Your roof’s size
  • Your roof’s complexity (is there any damage?)
  • If any decking needs replacing
  • Operating costs

Pros and Cons of a Slate Roof

Pros

  • Durable
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Long-lasting
  • Low maintenance
  • Increased home value

Cons

  • Cost
  • Weight

Pros of a Slate Roof

Durable

Compared to other roofing materials that are susceptible to weather conditions, slate tiles — which comprises of stone — can withstand inconsistent temperature changes, high winds, heavy rain, and hail stone. A slate roof is also fire-resistance, offering incredible advantages in preventing fires.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Slate roofing tiles have incredible beauty and luxury that entices many homeowners.  Slate is also purchasable in a range of colors and sizes, making it highly versatile to suit all roof shapes and peoples’ preferences.

Long-Lasting

A slate roof is built to last, and this roofing material can exceed 75 years, and it’s not unusual for it to surpass 100 years. On the contrary, many other roofing materials typically last around 30 years before needing replacing.

Low Maintenance

As slate tiles aren’t prone to damage easily, they’re generally low to maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about making regular repairs or replacing loose shingles. Slate is also dense, which means that it doesn’t absorb much water, making it even easier to conserve.

Increased Home Value

Investing in a new slate roof could increase your home’s value, as the roof is less likely to need frequent repairs. Fortunately, this material is long-lasting, durable, and high-end, which can be a big selling point for your home.

Cons of a Slate Roof

Cost

The average cost for a new slate roof is up to $28 per square foot, which isn’t as cost-effective as other materials. 

Weight

As slate is made of stone, it’s exceptionally heavy and can weigh up to four times more than asphalt shingles. Slate’s weight is determined by its thickness; the thicker the material, the heavier it’ll be. As a result, roofing companies need to take extra precautions during slate roof installation.

Considerations Before Installing a Slate Roof

If you’re considering a roof replacement, there are some considerations to keep in mind before switching to a slate roof.

Each Tile Might Differ

Natural Slate Roof has a unique makeup, which means that each slate can vary. This makes it difficult to predict what the end result will look like. There’s certainly a beauty element to this natural material, and it’ll transform your home’s appearance.

Extensive Training is Required

If you’re debating installing slate tiles yourself, you might want to reassess because a roofer must undergo extensive training before installing this material. This can also add an extra level of pressure when selecting what contractor to hire.

Shapes

While slate is a natural material, it can be manipulated into various shapes and colors. For example, choose slate tiles with a rounded edge, but this can result in more installation time due to the increased hours required.

Prepare Your Roof

While undergoing a roof transformation, it’s the perfect time to address any issues during installation. This might look like fixing leaking problems and ensuring flashing that gutters are working effectively.

Slate Roof Maintenance

A roof is an investment, which requires regular inspection, cleaning, and, sometimes, repairs. Keep your roof in premium condition with these steps.

Inspect The Roof

Annually, undergo a visual inspection to check your roof’s condition. Aim to do this late summer or autumn to allow yourself enough time to undergo any repairs in preparation for winter.

If you’re carrying out the inspection yourself, ensure that you’re equipped with the proper gear, including a ladder.

Inspect for any cracks in the tiles or heavy water stains, as these factors could suggest that the tiles need replacing.

​​Slate Roof Cleaning

Care for your slate roof with these easy steps.

  1. Use a cleaning agent

Apply a cleaning spray to the tiles and allow them to soak for the time stated on the bottle. Once the product has absorbed, clean the tiles with water jets using downward motions to direct the water toward the floor (this is particularly important if your roof isn’t very slanted). Water jets will also help moss to fall loose.

  1. Disinfect the tiles

Apply a disinfector to the tiles to kill any mold spores. This helps to prevent moss from growing back.

Slate Roof Repair

Some signs that your slate roof is in need of repairs include damaged or missing tiles, leaks, or sagging.

A slate tile
Unsplash/ Mitchell Luo

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