Origin of Slate Roofing

The first slate quarry in the United States opened in 1785 in Pennsylvania; however, it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that slate roofs saw more demand and popularity. This was largely due to an increasing population, advances in technology developed for quarrying, and the extension of the railroad. In addition, several slate quarries opened in Virginia, New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Near the turn of the century, the United States slate roofing industry reached its all time high with over 200 slate quarries.

 

Slate saw a drop in demand around 1915 due to an an increase in competition from substitute materials, including asphalt shingles. These alternative materials then surpassed slate in popularity since they were  offered at a cheaper price. This is because they could be mass produced, more easily transported, and had a simpler installation than slate roofs. However, there has been a recent increase in popularity in slate roofs due to their obvious advantages over asphalt roofs.

 

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Photo: GAF TruSlate Onyx Black slate shingles

Slate vs. Asphalt Roofing

The biggest differences between asphalt and slate roofs is the price tag and the longevity. Asphalt shingles are one of the least expensive materials, while slate roofs tend to be one of the most expensive options. One of the biggest drawbacks of asphalt shingles is their short lifespan; asphalt shingles only last around 25 years. This is a small period of time compared to slate roof tiles, which last over twice as long. Some slate roofs can even last for over 2 centuries.

 

Benefits of Slate Roofing

Aside from their natural beauty, slate roofs are best known for their longevity and fire resistance. As we discussed, slate roofing tiles outlast asphalt roofs by a long shot. This is a major advantage, especially for those who plan to stay in their homes for some time. Additionally, slate roofs are available in a variety of colors including: gray, black, blue-gray, red, green, and purple.

 

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Slate Roofing Tiles

Since slate roofs are a huge investment for your home, it is worth it to perform regular maintenance and inspections on your roof. After all, regular maintenance is important to maintain the longevity of your slate roof. Maintenance includes cleaning out gutters and replacing broken tiles. Additionally, an overall inspection on your slate roof should be performed by an experienced professional approximately every 5 to 7 years.

 

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns of slate roofs is the installation. Slate shingles are extremely fragile and prone to breaking or cracking, which is why it is important to hire a professional with experience in slate roofing. Slate is a beautiful option for any home and has a natural beauty unlike any other roofing option.

One thought on “Slate Roofs: What You Should Know About Them”
  1. Thanks for the information about slate roofing. I have been thinking about having a slate roof installed, but I want to be sure of the benefits. I didn’t realize that they could last for over two centuries. That is incredible. I will have to give it a try.

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