Why use slate roofing

Why use slate roofing

Slate is a durable, long lasting roofing material find out more about the benefits of slate roofing here.

Slate is a durable, long

lasting roofing material

Slate has been a popular roofing choice in Britain ever since the days of the Romans, but things were simpler back then. Nowadays we have to pick from local, imported or man-made slate and decide which offers the best quality and value.

Local slate

British slate is tough, hard wearing and watertight; therefore it makes a great addition to any roof. New regulations mean that all newly quarried British slate must be frost and fire proof, which is a great additional benefit.

There are many different types of British slate, perhaps best known is Welsh slate; greyish blue and highly sought after, it is often regarded as the highest quality slate available. That said, there are some other great choices for slate, including Burlington, Westmorland, Cornish Delabole, Scottish Ballachulish and Easdale slates all very prestigious.

Such high quality slate does come at quite a hefty price though and may not be the best option for those on a tight budget. Its not just the material alone which will set you back, its the labour involved. Installing a natural slate roof is a very professional job and thus a big cost for you to factor into your budget.

You can cut costs when having your roof re-fitted by asking the roofer to save as many of the existing slates as possible. You could match these with your new tiles and re-lay them randomly to create character on your new roof, or you could sell them at a reclamation yard. This would not only be saving you money, but also provides a sustainable solution to slate roofing demand.

Imported slate

Imported slate is a cheaper alternative to local slate and is becoming a popular choice here in the UK. You could pick slate from the likes of Spain (which provides around 75% of all slate worldwide!) to China and even Canada, which is said to be a great alternative to welsh slate.

This type of slate is often looked down upon by slate-snobs, however it can be a perfectly good alternative as long as it is researched properly. Make sure any imported slate you use has been tested to BS EN 123261 this tests for water absorption. Also check its carbonate content, as this could encourage discolouring, anything above 20% content is considered quite high. Slight colour changes are natural, but if it is something you are worried about you could ask your manufacturer for a statement as well as your standard guarantee, which will be at least 30 years.

Before you go ahead and use the slate, check a piece of by tapping it, good quality slate should make a ringing noise, as opposed to bad quality slate which simply makes a thudding noise.

Man-made slate

Whilst man-made slate roofing lacks the long lifespan and character of natural slates, it is considerably cheaper and therefore very popular. Man-made slate tiles are produced to the same size and colour, meaning they are easier to lay and look far more uniform. This consistency allows for them to be laid single bond yet still keep the water out of your home, which is a great advantage. Man-made slate is also usually pre-drilled with holes which will save you not only time, but also money.

You could also opt for concrete slate or roof tiles which are made from slate dust. If you are going for a complex design such as a steep roof pitch then you are best to go for fibre-cement slates, as this is a more lightweight option. However over time it could well experience discolouring as it becomes weathered. Another option is clay-based slates, which are a relatively new addition to the man-made slate market; these offer better resistance to the weather.

Other things to remember about slate

  • When your slate roofing is delivered to your home remember to have it safely stacked, this stops a process called efflorescence, which is a chemical reaction produced when slate tiles that are too close together become wet.
  • If you are re-roofing your home you should consider getting new insulation. Good insulation can cut energy bills by 40%, so is well worth a thought.
  • Once your roof slate is installed you will need to have regular inspections to ensure it remains in tiptop condition.

How much will slate roofing cost?

It depends what type of slate roofing you opt for, but below is a quick guide at the prices you can expect to pay;

Local slate: 3 per slate

Imported slate: 1.5 per slate

Man-made slate: 1 per slate

Labour cost: 15 30 per hour depending on your area and complexity of the job


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