Going back centuries and centuries, slate roofs add finesse and elegance. But then again, not all slate roofs are the same. It has to do with the actual material and the roof installation. If you like the appeal of slate, there are some things you should know before you find your local roofing contractor.
Slate stone vs synthetic slate
Slate is a stone, quarried from earth. And while this adds to both the material’s durability and appeal, the location of the quarry also plays a role. How come? Since the underground is different from one location to the other, the stone qualities – anything from its hue to its durability, vary too. Overall, they are all beautiful and strong, but some may last for over 150 years.
Some years back, a new slate roofing material found its way to the market. This is a synthetic material that mimics the real stone. As a man-made material, synthetic slate has lots of advantages but downsides as well. So, before you decide on whether or not to invest in a slate roofing and which one to choose, let us give you a quick comparison of the two, their pros and cons.
Pros of slate roofs – the real thing
Simply put, slate stones are gorgeous. They bring the elegance of simplicity to the home, the charm of the natural stone. The way the roofers install slate shingles may also add to the home’s excellent appearance. You see, the stones vary in terms of thickness, shape and color. And slates of different thicknesses, shapes, and colors can be installed on a roof, creating patterns and textures.
It might sound far stretched, but you can expect slate roofs to live even over 150 years. Now, if you think that an average roof material won’t exceed 30 years of life, that’s a pretty good deal. Slate is an extremely durable stone.
• Eco friendly
Due to their long-life expectancy, slate roofs are eco-friendly. Approx. 5% of the national waste ending up to the landfills is roof waste. And so, when installing a roof that won’t need to be replaced within the next century – perhaps, two, yes, you do help the environment too.
Apart from the stone’s resilience to the elements due to its hardness, it is also fire resistant. Slate stones are, perhaps, the best roofing material for buildings where there are fire considerations (for example, possibility of wildfire).
Cons of slate stone roofing
The biggest downside of natural slate is the expensive price. And although this compensates with its qualities and long lifespan, it is still a price you have to pay today.
Stale stones are extremely heavy. And while this is good for their resistance, it’s not good for your pocket or the structure. Let me explain. Before you decide on whether or not you will invest in slate, you need to have the structure checked. And not just that. You need to have the structure and framing checked every 10 years or so to make sure they still bear the load of slate, since this roofing material outlives the frame. Now, since the structure may need some reinforcement today and/or in the future, the price will go further up. That’s bad for your pocket.
• Hard to install
You need to find a roofing contractor that has experience with slate. Not all roof companies install slate stones. It’s a very difficult job while at the same time, it must be done flawlessly.
• Prone to cracking
The slate stone installation is not the only concern. The possibility of slate roof repair is also a consideration. One of the downsides of slate is that it may crack. Despite its durability as a material, the stone may crack if walked on. And that’s one more reason why it’s difficult to fix it too.
How about synthetic slate roofs?
Synthetic slate roofs have all the advantages of the natural stone. They are beautiful, very durable, weather resistant. Synthetic slate is made of plastic, rubber or polymer. And so, it has some extra advantages compared with the natural stone. For example, it’s not that heavy and is simpler to install, while its price is not very high. These were also the reasons why synthetic slate roofs were created in the first place. People couldn’t afford the expensive natural stone or take chances with a poor roof installation.
Compared to the natural stone, synthetic slate roofs are cheaper but not cheap. What you need to watch out for? Their fire resistance. Not all synthetic slate roofs are resistant to fire – at least, not to the same extent. So, do your homework based on your expectations.