What Are the Pros and Cons of Slate Roof Tiles?

What Are the Pros and Cons of Slate Roof Tiles?

While many types of tiles are available, like clay tiles, asphalt shingles and tiles made from precious metals, slate roof tiles will always be a timeless and popular option. But why is this?

Slate roof tiles have multiple benefits, including durability, visual appeal, and environmental benefits. However, slate tiles aren’t perfect because they are expensive, fragile and heavy.

Our slate roofs guide will explain the high and low points of slate tiles and determine if they are worthwhile for your roof.

What Are the Pros of Having a Slate Roof?

Our first step is to explain why slate roof tiles are brilliant. They are equal parts functional and visually appealing, which is one of the reasons why they are still popular despite the belief that they are old-fashioned.

Here are the benefits of slate roofs.

They Are Durable and Last a Long Time

Slate roofs are naturally durable, unlike some roofing materials that require weatherproof coatings. If you maintain them well, they can have a long-lasting lifespan of over 100 years.

The durability of slate roofs extends to their ability to resist weather like rain, wind, snow, and hail.

Finally, their durability is part of why you don’t need to maintain them as often as other roofing materials.

Slate Tiles Are Aesthetically Appealing

Slate roofs will always have a timeless, elegant appearance. Natural slate is enough to take any standard house and make it look striking and memorable.

You can also get variations in colours, thicknesses and textures to find slate roofing tiles that fit your aesthetic.

Finally, because a slate roof adds visual appeal, it can enhance the overall value of your home.

Slate Roof Tiles Are Fire Resistant

Along with resisting snow and rainwater, natural slate tiles can also protect from fire.

Because fire is a terrifying and wild force of nature, having a roof that can protect from it adds priceless value to a home.

They Are Great for the Environment

Slate (Spanish slate and Welsh slate, for example) is entirely natural.

Miners quarry it directly from the Earth itself, and it undergoes relatively minimal processing to get into a state where it’s okay to sell it.

Additionally, if you want to replace it with a different natural material, disposing of it won’t affect the environment because it is completely recyclable.

You Don’t Need to Maintain Them That Often

Because a slate roof is naturally durable, you barely need to maintain it across its long lifespan. However, we still recommend inspecting slate roofing at least once a year to check for cracks or missing tiles.

A damage type you need to look out for on most roofs is mould and rot. However, slate roofing products have a natural resistance to this, which is crucial because rot can cause costly damage to the roof’s structure.

Finally, a slate roof is easier to clean than other roof products; the rain can do most of the job by washing dirt and debris away. However, we still recommend gently cleaning the tiles 1-2 times yearly to ensure no debris is between the slate roofing tiles.

What Are the Cons of Slate Roof Tile Products?

Despite multiple reasons to purchase slate roofing tiles, you must also consider some significant downsides. 

These elements are unavoidable because slate is a natural product, and they don’t devalue it as a roofing material. However, it’s still essential to be aware of them to make an informed decision.

Here are the downsides you must be aware of regarding slate roofing tiles.

They Are Costly

While you will most certainly benefit from the durability of slate roofing tiles, you must understand that there is a high price to pay from the outset.

The cost of installing slate roofing tiles is high because of the material's price and the labour costs for the roofing specialist. 

You can install the slate tiles yourself, but you must be aware of some considerations you must make, including:

  • You may think that installing the slate tiles yourself is cost-effective, but you still need to buy the materials and all the equipment you need for the installation, like a roof ladder, nails, safety equipment and more.
  • If you have little confidence and experience installing roof tiles, you may do a sub-par job, resulting in damage like roof leaks and rot in the attic.

You also must consider the cost of adding extra support to the roof because of the weight of the tiles. While expensive, doing this is critical because your roof won’t be able to support the weight of slate otherwise, potentially resulting in a roof replacement.

While the cost of hiring a slate specialist is initially higher, you will experience long-term savings because the tiles are durable and resistant to multiple harmful damage types.

They Are Challenging to Install

As mentioned, incorrectly installing the slate tiles can cause more problems for your roof; it doesn’t help that they are challenging to install without knowledge and experience.

You must have specialised skills to install roofing slate perfectly, so installation costs can be much higher than the average. For example, asphalt is usually around $10 for every square foot, but slate is usually $30.

Along with installation, replacing and repairing roofing slate can be tricky because it requires similar expertise. You must be able to remove cracked tiles safely and keep the design uniform when you install new ones.

They Are Heavy and Can Impact Your Other Roofing Materials

While roofing slate is durable, it is also heavy, so you may need to spend extra money reinforcing the roof with trusses.

If you don’t reinforce the roof, it may collapse after heavy rainfall, which means you must replace the entire roof.

While roof trusses and other supports are an extra cost, they are less expensive than a complete roof replacement.

Slate Tiles Can Break if You Aren’t Careful

Despite their durability, roofing slate isn’t completely invulnerable.

For example, when subjected to extreme weather like rain and snowstorms, individual tiles can crack; you must head to the roof to repair or replace the tile. When you do this, be careful because applying too much pressure on other tiles when you step on them can cause further cracks.

Additionally, when you need to repair slate, it can be challenging to replace it without causing further damage; you need to be extra careful when securing the tiles with roofing nails.

There Are Few Options Regarding Styles and Colours

While some variations are available for styles and colours, there are limits because you can only find slate in a few monochromatic shades. In contrast, you can purchase asphalt in multiple colours and styles, making them more versatile for roofing designs.

Also, because of the limited variety, roofing slate doesn’t look suitable on some contemporary roof designs.

Final Thoughts on the Overall Quality of Slate Roofs

In summary, there are multiple benefits and drawbacks of roofing slate. To recap, here is why slate roof tiles are brilliant for a new roof:

  • They are durable and long-lasting.
  • They are visually appealing.
  • They can resist rain, wind and fire.
  • They have environmental benefits.
  • They need little maintenance.

Before committing to a slate tile purchase, you must also remember the drawbacks, including:

  • They are expensive.
  • Installing them requires expertise.
  • Their weight can compromise other materials.
  • They can break under a lot of pressure.
  • There aren’t many design options.

Whether you choose slate tiles or not, your individual roofing needs are what you must keep in mind. Slate roof tiles are an excellent choice if you value visual appeal and durability.

If you found our guide to slate roofs helpful, we have more advice on creating an excellent roof on our blog on Roofstuff.

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