Slate tiles are a popular choice as a roofing material for residential homes because of their beauty. They offer a unique variation in color that is natural and beautiful. They originated in the northeast US where slate deposits were first discovered but are easily accessible in all parts of the country today. They also offer a unique look as every slate deposit where the stone is mined is slightly different and look and color giving each home a unique look that can’t be exactly duplicated. In recent years, synthetic slate has become an option and are made from manmade materials. Slate roofs, because they are made from stone, are heavy and require the roof support material are up to the challenge of holding the weight. Slate roofs are beautiful but are expensive both in terms of the material and the installation. With that said, if you were to look at the long term return of a slate roof, in will increase your home’s value and last as long as a century if it is installed well. Expect to pay more upfront but expect to get a great return on the investment the longer you live in the home. Keep in mind that if you do not purchase extra slate tiles upfront and store them for repair, you will be nearly impossible to find matching colors if you need a repair some years later.
Slate roofing tile has some huge upsides, mostly due to the fact that it’s a natural stone product, giving it a unique, beautiful appearance, and the longevity that slate is famous for. Here’s a list of the most popular reasons homeowners choose to install slate roofing tiles on their home.
First and foremost, homeowners are drawn to slate because of its beauty. There simply isn’t a roofing material on the market that has a classier, more celebrated appearance. Furthermore, slate roofing tiles offer more choices than most homeowners realize, available in varying sizes and thicknesses, as well as a wide range of colors, including gray, green, purple, black, red, and mottled tiles that sport several colors mixed together.
Slate roofs can and should be routinely built to last at least a century. In fact, 150 years is a reasonable expectation of a roof’s longevity if the roof is properly constructed. That’s a big plus in an industry where many roofing systems are lucky to last 20 or 30 years before needing replacement.
Slate roofing is one of the most fire resistant roofs that exist. Unlike many other roofing materials, slate tiles themselves are completely fire proof. That’s a big advantage when it comes to preventing fires caused by air borne sparks from fireworks, wildfires, or from adjacent house fires.
Roofing waste accounts for more than 5 percent of the total waste sent to landfills across the nation every year. Since the majority of that roofing waste can be attributed to asphalt shingle roofing that needs replacement every 20 to 30 years, it’s easy to see the positive environmental impacts of installing a roof that is going to last 100 years or more.
Do not trust your slate roof installation to just anyone. Slate roofs are not the easiest roof to install and require many steps if done correctly. Like any facet of the construction industry, however, installations of slate roofs benefit from experience, knowledge and practice. Here are 17 things to keep in mind before choosing just any roofing company to install your slate roof:
You would think this goes without saying but we have to say it. The slopes have to be just right or you will have problems soon after your slate roof is installed. This also means using materials that can last as long as the slate, up to 150 years! 1
This means you need to do your homework and understand the differences between roofing slates — they aren’t all the same by any means. Price and color are not the only criteria to go by when selecting roofing slates. You should also consider the size, thickness, type, and manufacturing quality. Don’t worry we will help you with this step! 2
Not every roofing company has a slate cutter, slate ripper and a special slate hammer… we do! 3
Over generations, it will wear out, disintegrate and crumble beneath the slates. Slate roofs, in fact, do not require underlayment at all. We use the underlayment to keep out the water until the roof is installed. The underlayment will keep out the water until the slates and flashings are installed and it makes a good surface on which to write our chalk lines. When we are concerned about ice-damming, we double the felt along the eaves and spread trowel grade roof cement in between, then increase the slate headlap along the eaves. See we know what we are doing.4
If installing a new slate roof requiring several pallets of slate, blend the slates by taking some from all the pallets at once before sending them up onto the roof. Otherwise, the roof can look splotchy. 5
Use roof jacks and planks. Stage the roof properly. Walking on slates during installation is the most common cause of “shedding slates,” or slates that break and fall off after the roof has been installed. Shedding slates can be avoided by properly staging the roof during installation. 6
We install every course of slates along a permanent chalk line chalked on the surface of the roof, measured from the bottom of the roof to ensure accuracy and consistency. The lines mark the top edges of the slates. We do not chalk on the slates themselves an do not “eyeball” the courses by trying to lay the slates without chalk lines. 7
Slating nails shall not be driven in so far as to produce an excessive strain on the slates. If the nails are driven too hard, they can punch through the slates and leave the slates hanging on one nail. The nails should instead be driven to a depth such that the nail heads lie within the counter-sunk nail hole crater. This way, the nail heads will not rub excessively against the overlying slates, eventually wearing a hole in them. 8
Copper flashings or stainless steel are best. We use minimum 20 ounce copper on valleys and built-in-gutters. You can use 16 ounce copper on ridges, step flashings and chimney flashings, although 20 ounce is better. Sheet lead is also a good flashing material. 9
Saddle ridges, Boston hips, mitered hips and copper or stainless steel hips or ridges, are all good. Unexperienced installers might run your field slates to the top and leave them with exposed nail heads and sealant along the apex and nothing else. One such ridge is called a “comb ridge,” and should be avoided. You should leave this to the pros like us! 10
We do not use electro-galvanized steel nails except to nail felt paper. We use copper or stainless steel roofing nails for nailing roofing slates. We sometimes use hot-dipped galvanized roofing nails on slates too, especially when installing recycled salvaged slates. 11
If the last 11 steps hasn’t sold you we know what we are doing, then nothing will. With this type of investment picking the wrong installer is a bad idea. We have the knowledge and know how to install your slate roof so it will last for generations to come! 12