Slate Roofs: What You Should Know About Them

Origin of Slate Roofing

The first slate quarry in the United States opened in 1785 in Pennsylvania; however, it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that slate roofs saw more demand and popularity. This was largely due to an increasing population, advances in technology developed for quarrying, and the extension of the railroad. In addition, several slate quarries opened in Virginia, New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Near the turn of the century, the United States slate roofing industry reached its all time high with over 200 slate quarries.

Slate saw a drop in demand around 1915 due to an an increase in competition from substitute materials, including asphalt shingles. These alternative materials then surpassed slate in popularity since they were  offered at a cheaper price. This is because they could be mass produced, more easily transported, and had a simpler installation than slate roofs. However, there has been a recent increase in popularity in slate roofs due to their obvious advantages over asphalt roofs.

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Photo: GAF TruSlate Onyx Black slate shingles

Slate vs. Asphalt Roofing

The biggest differences between asphalt and slate roofs is the price tag and the longevity. Asphalt shingles are one of the least expensive materials, while slate roofs tend to be one of the most expensive options. One of the biggest drawbacks of asphalt shingles is their short lifespan; asphalt shingles only last around 25 years. This is a small period of time compared to slate roof tiles, which last over twice as long. Some slate roofs can even last for over 2 centuries.

Benefits of Slate Roofing

Aside from their natural beauty, slate roofs are best known for their longevity and fire resistance. As we discussed, slate roofing tiles outlast asphalt roofs by a long shot. This is a major advantage, especially for those who plan to stay in their homes for some time. Additionally, slate roofs are available in a variety of colors including: gray, black, blue-gray, red, green, and purple.

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Slate Roofing Tiles

Since slate roofs are a huge investment for your home, it is worth it to perform regular maintenance and inspections on your roof. After all, regular maintenance is important to maintain the longevity of your slate roof. Maintenance includes cleaning out gutters and replacing broken tiles. Additionally, an overall inspection on your slate roof should be performed by an experienced professional approximately every 5 to 7 years.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns of slate roofs is the installation. Slate shingles are extremely fragile and prone to breaking or cracking, which is why it is important to hire a professional with experience in slate roofing. Slate is a beautiful option for any home and has a natural beauty unlike any other roofing option.

5 Roofing Materials and What You Need to Know About Them

In addition to providing your family shelter, your roof can help to accentuate your home’s curb appeal and add value to your home. When choosing a new roof, it is important to do you research about different roofing materials. Here are 5 roofing materials and what you need to know about them:

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Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles are by far the most popular option for roofs. They gained some popularity due to their affordability and versatility. Asphalt shingles typically last around 20 to 30 years and a fairly easy to install. They are a great roofing option and they are very common; however their over-popularity can also be its downfall.

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Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are typically made of red cedar, cypress, redwood, and pine trees. While they are extremely beautiful, they are expensive to install. Wood roofs are great insulators and can be repaired easily. One thing to keep in mind is that these types of shingles require regular maintenance. However, with good maintenance, wood shingles should last 30 to 50 years.

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Slate Roofing Tile

Slate roofs are a natural stone product. They are well known for their beauty and are often associated with luxury homes due to their hefty price tag. One of the main benefits of slate roofs is that they are built to last. With proper installation, they can easily last over a century. Additionally, slate is one of the most fire-proof roofing material available. Perhaps the biggest drawback of slate roofs is that it is difficult to install, and even more difficult to find an experienced contractor. Slate tiles are extremely heavy and can break easily if they are dealt by someone who is not familiar with them.

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Metal Roofing

Metal Roofs are typically made of steel, aluminum, or copper. They are lightweight, which allows them to sometimes be installed over old roofs. Instead of absorbing the sun’s heat, metal roofs reflect the heat due to its high solar reflexivity. The percentage of solar reflexivity overall depends on the color you choose; however, it is typically much higher compared to the 5% average of asphalt shingles. Perhaps the best thing about metal roofs is that they require little to no maintenance. While metal roofs tend to be more expensive initially, they can last for as long as 50 years.

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Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is one of the oldest forms of roofing, with origins in Ancient Greek and Roman times. Thus, it is often seen in the Mediterranean. In addition to having reflective properties likes its metal roof counterpart, ceramic tile roofs aren’t susceptible to rot or mold, can withstand high winds, and does not expand or contract with the temperature. Even though they are beautiful, ceramic tile is a very expensive material and it is extremely labor intensive to install. However, ceramic tile roofs are long-lasting and have a 60-80 year lifespan.

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When choosing roofing materials, don’t feel as though you need to stick with asphalt shingles. While the typical asphalt shingles are a great option, you should also consider other materials such as slate, wood, metal, and ceramic.