Slate roofs have many advantages in terms of durability, strength and classic beauty and style. Most are well known, some less so.
Yes, natural slate is one of the most expensive and attractive roofing options for homes, but it is certainly not suitable for every roof or every home structure.
The high price of slate is probably one of its biggest drawbacks. In extreme cases, it can cost about the same to cover one square foot of roof (100 square feet) with high quality natural slates as it does to cover a small roof, say 1000 square feet (or 10 square), with asphalt shingles. In terms of price, however, it would be totally unfair to compare two fundamentally different roofing materials. Slate is much more costly than asphalt shingles.
That said, you can expect to pay between $15.00 and $25.00 per square foot to install slate tile on a typical single-family home. Most houses with slate roofs are larger than average. Assuming the roof is 25 square or 2,500 square feet, you can expect an average price range of $37,500 to $62,500 to install a new slate roof on a suitable home with reinforced framing (to support the weight of the slate roof).
For most types of roofing, a professional roofer is best, but for natural slates, a specialist in tiles or slates is best.
Although the typical layman or roofer is initially confident in their installation skills, they are often mistaken.
But if you are really tempted to save on labor costs and opt for this solution, be sure to ask them about their experience and recommendations or examples of their past slate roof installations.
As this page in Roofing Calc shows, a poorly laid slate roof is the same as having no roof at all.
Cost of materials
At the lower end of the price scale, natural slate alone costs about $4.50 to $6.00 per square foot. While this makes it almost affordable, keep in mind that low-end asphalt shingles cost less than $1.00 per square foot (based on purchasing a 3-tab or mid-range architectural shingle kit).
At a high level, natural slate tiles can cost as much as $10.00 to $15.00 per square foot for materials alone.
Good tip: A reasonable price range for residential natural slate tiles is $4.50 to $8.50 per square foot.
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Concerns about high weight
As we mentioned in our introduction, slate roofs are not suitable for all homes. They add a tremendous amount of weight to the house, about 800 to 1,500 pounds per square foot.
If you live in a snowy area, you should also consider the extra weight of heavy snow.
The Slater or specialist will take this into account before work begins. In general, large houses are best suited to slate roofing.
However, it is entirely possible for a smaller, well-built house to effectively carry a slate roof.
Check out this checklist from Greenstone Slate to see what’s involved in an installation.
Historical costs and benefits of slate roofs
To put the value of a slate in perspective, look at the value it provides. A high-quality asphalt roof will last up to 30 years. The average life of an asphalt roof is 15 to 20 years for most homes. Wood or cedar roofs have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years if properly maintained.
Metal roofs (i.e., steel and aluminum) have an average lifespan of 35 to 60 years. Slate roofs, on the other hand, can last up to 100 years if installed properly.
As a natural stone, it is a dense material and high quality slate tiles are thick and durable. When a slate roof is properly installed, it can sometimes last for several hundred years.
Because of its superior strength and durability, but not only for that reason, slate roofs have a significant return on investment. Add to that the idea of natural beauty, and homeowners enjoy a return on investment when selling a home with a quality slate roof.
In terms of expected return on investment, metal roofing systems generally have the highest return on investment (ROI) of most roofing systems, ranging from 75% to 86%, and while there is no clear data on the ROI of slate systems, it is likely in the low to mid 80% range.
As a natural material, slate is undeniably environmentally friendly. Only its sturdiness and durability guarantee that.
While an asphalt slate roof will likely need to be torn down at least five times in 100 years, feeding the landfills, a slate roof has a long life. And to top it off, slate is or can be recycled.
Due to the high density of the material, slate is essentially waterproof, impervious to mold or fungi, non-flammable and highly resistant to temperature fluctuations.
More options than you see at first glance
A slate roof can conjure up the image of uniform, all-black shingles covering a roof in a rather soft pattern. While this is possible and perhaps even the norm, this is just a tip of the hat to the options you have when choosing slate.
Thickness or quality may be the first option to consider. This ranges from a thin 3/16 inch too thick to an inch too thick.
Did you know that? Thickness is an important factor in the price of the material and subsequently in the installation, as heavier batches of slate are more difficult to handle. A thickness between 3/16 and 5/16 is considered the nominal thickness.
The size of the different parts, their texture and shape should also be taken into account. Frankly, there are too many variations to list them all, but rectangular pieces of the same size for many (i.e. the order of your roof) will be consistent unless specifically marked as different.
Check out this page from GreenstoneSlate.com to learn more about the random width of slate.
Texture and colour
Texture and color are the elements that become interesting. Surface structures or features occur naturally when a rock is exposed to pressure for a (very) long period of time. It is usually flat and smooth, but again many variations are possible and occur. The same goes for the color.
Common colours are green, grey, black, purple and red. Sometimes color patches create multi-colored panels, or the colors of the entire surface give it a unique look.
It is then possible to mix coloured roof tiles on the whole roof. Check out this page from the Vermont Slate Company website for some ideas.
There is also the idea that the slate roof can be equipped with modern technology, or as Greenstone Slate calls it, the possibility of an integrated solar panel.
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- Life, a century or more
- The natural beauty is only surpassed by the wood (for example, the roof with cedar shingles).
- Waterproof, fireproof and so dense that most other elements and animals cannot damage it.
- Wide range of options available
- Pricing. Compared to all other materials, it is very expensive, although in this case it is necessary to take into account the cost it offers.
- Fragile. Although it is very durable, it can be damaged if stepped on carelessly. And because tiles are unique in so many ways, it’s not easy to find tile substitutes.
- You will benefit greatly from professionals who have experience with such installations. Conversely, improper installation can cause significant damage.
- Not every home needs an expert to determine if your home can support a large amount of excess weight.
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frequently asked questions
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Red is the strongest color of all. It tends to stimulate the mind and attract attention.
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Colour plays an important role in the world we live in. Colour can influence thinking, change actions and provoke reactions. It can irritate or soften the eyes, raise blood pressure or suppress appetite. … As a powerful form of communication, colour is irreplaceable.
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