Slate Roofing:
Historic Stone Makes a Comeback

Slate Roofing has been around for hundreds and hundreds
of years. You have likely seen this stone adorning old historic buildings or churches.

Is slate a feasible option for the typical homeowner?

Beautiful, Enduring,
Recyclable Stone

North American Slate is found in the states of Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia. Each has its own special characteristics.

Colors vary widely according to the chemical composition of the soil in which it is found.

Slate may be dark or light blue, gray, black, shades of red, or any of a rainbow palette of shades.

slate roof

It is an extremely durable material, with some claiming a lifetime of 150 years or more. In fact, slate has actually been removed from the roofs of homes condemned for destruction, and replaced on the roofs of new homes!

Slate Roof Pros and Cons

Slate is a natural resource that has a lot going for it.

It is non toxic, will not outgas, long-lasting, recyclable and reusable.

And besides all of that, it is BEAUTIFUL!

There's nothing like the feel of real stone in your hands. Slate is at the same time tough, but smooth. Although slate can be somewhat textured, too, it's consistent themes tie together all natural variations into a kaleidoscope of beauty.

So what are the cons of slate roofing?
Slate can be expensive (but over the life of the roof it can be quite reasonable).

The stone may also be heavy. (Some companies are touting more lightweight stone in thinner widths, so this may not always be the case.) With the traditional weight of slate, however, a stronger foundation as well as a stronger underpinning roof structure will be required. Costs rise for these issues as well.

In areas of high humidity, cleaning and maintenance should be factored in to the cost - fungal growth can possibly turn the tiles black.

A double layer of roof felt may be needed to ensure that the roof will be waterproof and secure. Leak repair can be VERY expensive.

Synthetic Slate

New products are hitting the market all the time. One of the most recent additions is a "synthetic slate", which is also non-outgassing. Claims are that it may last half as long as the real thing - which could be up to 50 years!

One synthetic slate in particular is made from wood and cement fibers.

There are other "faux slate" products available, even a product that is made of rubber.

Since the cost of the actual stone varies from state to state, and country to country, do some investigating to see how expensive it is in your area.

Are there roofers available who are skilled with slate installation? Compare the costs vs lifetime expectancy and decide if slate might be a part of your new green home.

And, if the "real thing" is just too pricey - consider looking into one of the nontoxic synthetic products. After all, it won't cost you a dime until you decide to buy.

Above all, enjoy your research. If you truly love the look of slate but cannot afford the roofing, you can always opt to tile some of your floor with it.

Your options are only as limited as your imagination. Dream on!

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