Slate has been used as a residential roofing material for hundreds of years because of its natural beauty and durability. It is as tough as rocks, because that is pretty much what slate is. The material is a type of stone that can be found in various parts of the world, and its laminated composition is conducive to being split into tiles of varying thicknesses. Slate's numerous color shades are created by generations of soil conditions in the areas where it is found.
Who makes slate roofing?
Slate is mined in several states in this country with Vermont perhaps being predominant and Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia not far behind. Once the slate has been removed from the ground, skilled craftsmen use specialized tools to split the stones and cut them into roofing tiles. The shingles are then sold to homeowners and roofing contractors or sent to roofing distribution centers. The tedious process of creating slate shingles and the more budget-friendly roofing options now available have reduced the number of companies that market this timeless product. However, the material's popularity among upscale homeowners allows companies such as these to continue to thrive:
- Greenstone Slate Company
- New England Slate Company
- Roof Tile & Slate Company
- Black Diamond Slate
There are also slate roofing companies in Europe and South America.
Are there different styles of slate roofing?
The primary differences in slate shingles are size, thickness, and color. Length can vary from 12 to 24 inches and width may range from half the length to a maximum of 14 inches. Lengths of 13 inches are rarely found, possibly due to superstitious beliefs through the ages. Standard thicknesses are 1/4-inch to 3/4-inch, and weight differences should be considered when deciding on a size.
Like other types of roofing materials, slate roofing is measured in squares, with a square consisting of 100 square feet of roof area. Greenstone Slate Company's select grade shingles are a uniform 1/4-inch thick and add a load of about 680 to 780 pounds per square to your roof. If you elect to install 3/4-inch thick slate shingles, that load per square can increase to as much as 2,500 to 3,000 pounds, and in most cases your roof framing should be reinforced.
Slate shingle color options often depend on where the stone is mined, but the following are some of the more common shades:
Many slate roofs have several colors mixed together to create contrasts and patterns that can grow even more beautiful with age.
How much does it cost and how long should it last?
If you want a roofing material that should last longer than you'll be in your home, slate may be your best choice. Slate manufacturers often offer 100-year limited warranties on their products, and there's a very good chance the roofing could last even longer. Slate roofing is also considered to be a green building material due to its longevity, low maintenance and the fact that it can be recycled to another roof in the future.
Slate's primary downside, other than weight, is that the shingles can be costly to purchase and have installed. A square of slate shingles can cost in the range of $350 to $600 depending on size, color and where you are located. If you need to have the shingles shipped a long distance, freight costs can be very high due to the material's weight.
How to get started with slate roofing
The first step in getting slate shingles installed on your home is finding a reputable roofing contractor who has experience working with the material. Not all roofing contractors can install slate. Filling out the form on this page is a good way to locate qualified roofing contractors in your area. You might also ask a local homebuilder who specializes in high-end or custom homes for a recommendation.