Why is Slate So Good for Roofs?
Foremost, slate is formidable stuff. A slate roof that has been installed and maintained correctly can last for a century or longer. In some cases, the roof – at least the slate tiles – can outlast the building itself. As such, it is common to salvage slate tiles and recycle them into another roof or project. This helps to keep slate out of the garbage dump, making it among the most environmentally friendly options, as compared to asphalt or synthetic slate tiles which have shorter life spans and no recycled value. Once they’re time is up, into the dump they go.
Synthetic products are mass fabricated and do not present the same way a natural slate roof does. The tiny individual variations in each tile – the color, striping, edge, and shape – are woven into a roof that tells a unique story about that building, its unfolding history, and the land itself. Plastic shingles are versatile, but unromantic and less durable. There’s no poetry, no story. It’s a plastic coating; cheap simulacrum.
In contrast, natural slate is authentic historicity and modernity; a deep look into the past and a bold step into a lasting future. It’s not a me-too product. Slate roofs are timeless, thoughtful, and a testament to human ingenuity. A nod to a time when things were built to last. Sometimes they still are.
Surviving for a century or longer takes a formidable material. Slate is naturally fire resistant – making it great for drier, more fire prone climates – while acting as a natural insulator that can help to regulate your home’s internal temperature. And thanks to its density, insects cannot burrow into slate to lay eggs, deterring them from breeding there.
But longevity is also a function of maintenance. Anything left outside will need to be cleaned and patched up from time to time and slate roofs are no exception. Acts of God, like heavy branches, hail, and other intense weather can damage a slate roof. Thankfully, most slate repairs are relatively minor – a shingle cracked, missing, or askew – and can be repaired fairly easily. In general, it’s worthwhile to have your slate roof inspected annually, to catch small problems early. A slate roof is only as strong as its weakest shingle and issues detected early will save you considerable hassle and heartache. In general, though, a well built slate roof is about as effortless as one can expect from something that protects your home and all of your valuables from the ravages of time.
It’s worth repeating that a slate roof must be installed by a capable specialist. While slate is a resilient material, its incredible longevity as a roofing material depends on the skill of the roofers who installed it. Small missteps or cost-cutting short-cuts will require maintenance or repair far sooner than a job done correctly once.