Slate Roofs: A Complete Guide For Homeowners

Posted on November 22, 2022

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Slate Roofs: A Complete Guide For Homeowners

Slate is a natural roofing material that’s protected buildings and homes for centuries. It’s incredibly durable, fireproof, and appealing. If you have an old roof that’s been troubling you more often than before, maybe it’s time to consider an upgrade. Many homeowners with old slate roofs, or shingle roofs, get their roofs repaired every season.

However, installing new slate tiles is far more economical and hassle-free. Slate roof technology is more advanced than ever before, and there are now lots of shades and profiles to choose from. If you are exploring new roofing materials, you’ll enjoy learning about this timeless option!

At North Star Roofing, we aim to educate you about the roofing industry so you know what you’re paying for. We help homeowners enjoy a beautiful, sturdy roof that will stay that way for years. This article explains everything homeowners need to know about a slate roof before they plan to invest in a new roof.

What Is A Slate Roof?

Slate is a product of sedimentary rock that has been naturally transformed under high heat and pressure. The material is formed when clay and shale are compressed over millions of years into a fine-grained rock with a tightly packed structure that doesn’t have room for air or water to seep in.

Slate roofing has been around for centuries, perhaps most famously in the American northeast. In colonial times, slate was used over wood shingles because of its fire-resistant properties. You can now find this type of roofing anywhere in New England, where it’s often referred to as “New England style” or “colonial style.”

Slate roofs are popular today because many areas require highly protective material to withstand weather conditions. They’re also popular for the way they add value and curb appeal to a home.

slate roof

Why Do People Prefer Slate Roofs?

While most homeowners in the U.S. have shingle roofs, they are also the ones who replace and repair their roofs more often than others. Shingle roofs are undoubtedly beautiful and an economical option, but slate roofs can offer maximum benefits.

Slate Roofs Are Fireproof

Slate is a natural fireproof material with no combustible components, and is not flammable or toxic. This makes slate roofs ideal for multi-story homes in thunderstorm and fire-prone areas.

Slate has been used to build homes and structures for thousands of years in many countries worldwide. They are also ideal for areas prone to earthquakes or hurricanes. Many historic structures made of slate are still standing strong today.

Slate Tiles Look Beautiful And Luxurious

Slate, as a roofing material, has been used to cover castles, forts, and other vital buildings for centuries. Slate roofs are beautiful and luxurious. They can give your home a look of elegance and sophistication that will help it stand out from the crowd.

A Slate Roofing System Enhances Your Home’s Resale Value

One of the best things about slate roofs is that they enhance your home’s resale value. It’s not difficult to understand that houses with slate roofs typically sell faster and for more money than homes with other roofing materials.

This is because buyers are willing to pay the full price for a home with unique features such as a slate roof, hardwood floors, or a stone fireplace. A unique selling point like this will make it easier for you to sell your house quickly without significantly lowering the price.

Slate Roofs Are Energy Efficient

Slate roofs are energy efficient and can help you save money on heating and cooling costs. There is less chance for heat to escape through the roof, so you’ll spend less on heating your home in the winter. Slate retains its warmth even when exposed to minimal sunlight or shaded by trees or buildings. Slate is also very good at keeping the heat out during the summer when you pack your home and turn on the air cooling units and roof vents.

Slate Is An Eco-Friendly Roofing Material

Since slate is a natural rock, it contains zero toxic materials. This is also applicable when building a slate roof because there’s no need to reinforce the tiles with chemicals or other materials. Slate also requires less energy to manufacture than other roofing materials, such as rubber and asphalt shingles.

You Can Choose Between Different Colors Of Slate

Slate roofs are available in many colors, and it is best to select the right color for your home. For example, dark-colored slate is best suited for homes located in an area where the air quality is poor due to industrial pollution, or a large city. This dark coloring will mask dirt and other imperfections that end up on your roof, and absorb more light from the sun. In contrast, light-colored slate is the better option for homes located at higher elevations, or those with lots of sun exposure as it will reflect, rather than absorb the sun’s rays.

Slate Roofs Are Low Maintenance

Slate roofs are low maintenance. Once the good-quality slates have been installed, you don’t need to worry about them as often as other roofing materials. A slate roof can last for decades with little maintenance. However, after a decade of wear and tear it would be best to look out for any signs of damage to avoid expensive repairs.

You can hire a roofing contractor to clean your slate roof if it’s stained. They will use bleach or pressure washing techniques to remove stubborn dirt or stains from your slate tiles. Make sure you don’t climb up yourself, as slate can become slippery when exposed to moisture, rain, and snow.

Common Concerns About Slate Roofs

It is important to note a few facts about slate roofs that concern some homeowners. Some slate roofs are either old or made with low-quality material that cannot last as long as the original slate.

  • Homeowners with damaged slate need to know the history of the slate tiles on their homes before moving on with repairs. Replacing slate tile roofs can be tough because you need to find slate that matches the existing style and type of what’s already on your roof. This is particularly hard to do when comparing slate from an older house to newer products on the market.
  • You’ll need a strong roof structure and decking to hold a new slate roof. If your wooden beams or OSB sheets are old and compromised, you need to replace them with thicker, new lumber.
  • You need underlayment that can withstand high temperatures as slate tiles can heat up quickly, and you don’t want to transfer this heat into the attic space below.

How To Figure Out If Your Roof Needs A Replacement

Determining whether or not your roof needs a replacement can take time and effort. Even with signs like shingles falling off, leaks, and discoloration appearing, it’s hard to tell if the problem is just general wear and tear or a more severe issue. Here are some more ways to know if your slate roof needs a replacement.

Look For Signs Of Wear And Tear

A seasoned contractor can identify leaks and water damage by looking at the slate shingles, flashing materials, drip edges, and more. If there are cracks and gaps in any of these components, then it’s most likely that the inner layers of your roof have been exposed. If the underlayment has worn out and the wood is rotting, it’s time to replace all the damaged materials before the damage spreads.

Check Your Roof’s Pitch And Slope

Pitch is the steepness of your roof, and slope represents the angle at which each tile lies on top of the roof. A roof should be as steep as possible, allowing rainwater and snow to run off quickly into the gutters. To hold up a slate roof, you must have a roof pitch of 20 degrees or higher. If you have a low roof pitch, it may be necessary to change it to accommodate new slate tiles.

If Your Property Is Old And Less Maintained

Old roofs are often damaged beyond repair. Below are the average life spans of residential roofing materials with proper upkeep.

  • Shingles: 15 years.
  • Metal roof with hidden fasteners: 50 years.
  • Metal roof with exposed fasteners: 30 years.
  • Clay tiles: 50 years.
  • Natural slate: 100 years.
  • Concrete slate: 70 years.

If you’re unsure about the condition of your roof, it is always safe to get a roof inspection from a local roofing company. Shingle and metal roofing contractors are easy to find. But if you have an old or standard-quality slate roof, find a roofing contractor specializing in this type of roofing material.

Things To Know Before Getting A New Slate Roof

It is essential to do things correctly, as slate is not an ordinary roofing material. It is incredibly sturdy, expensive, and heavy. Improper installation and accidents should be avoided at all costs. When considering slate for your roof, consider the following things:

Quality Of Slate

The best slates are made from 100 percent natural materials, with no synthetic additives or chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Slates should also be kiln-dried before being shipped to your home to ensure durability and color retention over time.

Thickness Of The Tiles

Most slate tiles come in various thicknesses, ranging from 4 mm to 8 mm, depending on your preference and budget. It’s essential to keep in mind that though thinner slates may save money, they will only last for a few decades compared to their thicker counterpart.

Slate Size And Color Options

Slate manufacturers offer precut and custom-made pieces with different sizes, textures, and colors. The standard sizes for residential slate tiles are:

  • 12×8 inches.
  • 14×8 inches.
  • 16×8 inches.
  • 16×10 inches.
  • 20×10 inches.

You can choose from plenty of textures and shades for slate tiles. From traditional gray shades to earthy and multicolored slates, there’s a color for every home.

A slate roofing expert will help you figure out how many tiles you need and what the dimensions should be. They will also suggest whether or not it’s worth re-slating an existing roof. For example, if the original slate tiles are in good condition, but the mortar between them is crumbling away, the solution would be to re-install the old slate that is loose.

Slate Roof Installation Is Not A DIY Job

Do you want hand-split or machine-split tiles? What size and thickness suit your home’s pitch and existing material? These are questions for a slate roofer to answer based on experience and knowledge of local building codes. So, hiring a roofing contractor specializing in slate roofing is essential. Depending on your local handyman or a roofer who only specializes in shingles can be risky, and costly in the long run.

Slate Roofing Contractors Are Rare And Skilled

Find a slate roofing contractor who can install slate and suggest better roofing practices for your home. Slate roofing has been historically regarded as an art form by experts and roofing contractors, and for a good reason! Slate is tricky material that requires specialized skills for perfect manufacturing and installation. While some homeowners may be able to find DIY instructions on their own or through YouTube videos, these instructions cannot replace professional training and experience.

Slate roof installation may cost more than other roofing materials, but it is worth your investment when the roof outlasts everything you own.

Cost To Replace Or Install A Slate Roof

You should expect to pay between $7-$12 per square foot for slate roof installation. The average cost to install a new slate roof is $29,000, but this will vary depending on your location and roofing material.

  • If you’re getting a new slate roof over existing roofing material, you may want to remove the damaged materials first. Otherwise, it will affect the durability and installation of the tiles.
  • Removing and disposing of old materials will add about $1-$2 per square foot to your total cost. Additional labor costs involve removing old sheathing and installing new rafters or trusses. Slate roofs need high structural support and wooden beams that are close together to be supported. Otherwise, the OSB sheets can sag due to the weight of the tiles.
  • The labor cost depends on your home’s location and current weather conditions. Roofing costs are higher in summer and lower in other seasons. That’s because dry, warm weather is best suited for a new roof installation when roofing materials seal better, making it perfect for roofers to work without worrying about mistakes.

When you decide to get a new slate roof, look for an experienced slate roofing contractor who is a part of your community. A local expert will know how to handle the area’s weather conditions and abide by the local building codes. They will also be able to answer all your questions and help ensure the job is done correctly. We highly recommend finding someone licensed by the state and whose team has extensive experience working with slate.

Consult Our Slate Roofing Experts

If you’re looking for a slate roofing contractor in North Wales or surrounding areas in Pennsylvania, we can help you. At North Star Roofing, we have been working with luxury roofing materials like slate for years! The durability, beauty, and low-maintenance qualities of slate make this material an excellent roofing choice for homeowners who want to invest in a roof that will offer a lot during their lifetime. With so many options available from different manufacturers worldwide, there are plenty of choices when deciding which type of slate will work best in any given situation.

If you want to learn more about slate roofs or discuss more options, call us at (484)-302-7663.We will be happy to help you with a free consultation and roof inspection.

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