Slate roofs have a long story behind them, being one of the best quality and longest lasting roofing material for many centuries. Drawbacks that kept it from being more widely used were the high cost, difficulty of installation and greater fragility during the installation process. This is why slate roofs are not ideal for all kinds of buildings.
Benefits of Slate Roofs
Being a natural stone product, slate roofs have many attractions. It has a unique and stylish appearance, and is more durable than most other forms of roofing material. Home-owners over the ages have chosen to install slate roofs for the following reasons.
1. Appearance – Slate roofs are beautiful. The sheer elegance and elan of a slate roof has appealed to home owners who want a stylish look and feel to their homes. No other alternative confers such class and flair to a residential roof than slate. It offers many different choices by way of color and texture. Slate roofs can be installed in different thickness and sizes. Color choices range from green to gray, purple to red, and even mottled tiles with several colors mixed together.
2. Durability – Slate roofs typically last a century. 150 years has been quoted as a “reasonable period” to expect slate roofs to last. In an industry where the typical alternative lasts only 15 years or so, this is a serious advantage when it comes to choosing a roofing material. Just the savings from repair and replacement of a roof can serve as an incentive to invest the extra amount into slate roofs.
3. Resistant to Fire – Slate roofs are among the most fire resistant kinds. The material itself is completely resistant, unlike most other options which need to be specially treated or cured to make them less flammable. When worry about a stray spark or electrical malfunction resulting in fire damage is a constant worry for home owners, slate roofs provide mental peace and comfort. This is heightened in areas prone to fire damage from wildfires or forest conflagrations.
4. Environment Friendly – Roofs need replacement from time to time. The waste from roofs that have to be torn down account for over 5% of all waste sent to landfills around the country. Most of this is asphalt shingle waste from roofs. As asphalt shingle roofs need replacement every 15 to 20 years, this adds up to become a serious environmental threat. Slate roofs avoid this problem. The positive impact on the environment comes from the installation of a roof that lasts 100 years or longer.
Drawbacks of Slate Roofs
Not all is rosy and sweet about slate roofs. There are some significant drawbacks to using them. High cost is one of the most obvious disadvantages, but there are others. Tougher installation requirements and the fragility of slate tiles can lead to serious consequences unless factored into your decisions.
1. Poor Installation – Most roofing contractors today are uninformed about slate roofs. That is a direct reflection of the relative unpopularity of this kind of roofing in the price-conscious market. But without knowing much about installing slate roofs, contractors still go ahead and try to execute such projects, resulting in problems. Check with your roofing contractor about their experience in installing slate roofs. Ask for specific references of projects they have personally handled, and verify them. A poorly installed slate roof will lead to more headaches and hassle than savings.
2. Weight – The load of slate roofs can range from 500 to 1,450 pounds per square. This load cannot be borne by regular roof frames, and you may need to evaluate the structure of your existing roof and maybe even reinforce it to withstand the added load.
3. Fragility – Slate roofs are fragile, and this can be a drawback. You cannot walk on the roof, or have repairmen climbing on it for installations, without running the risk of having the roof crack and break. Broken tiles need replacement or repair, or else your roof will leak. Replacing slate roof tiles isn’t easy either. It’s difficult to find matching tiles to replace as each slate lot of different.
How Much Do Slate Roofs Cost?
The cost of slate roofs is high, making it the single biggest drawback to installation. At between $6,000 and $8,000 per square, this can become as high an upfront investment as with higher end metal roofing. Conventional roofing materials are only a fifth as costly. This higher expense is offset by the longevity of slate roofs, and so the choice of material for roofing should be made on a multitude of different factors.