Are slate roofs good?

Close up of dark gray slates on a roof.

The Popularity of Slate Roofing

Throughout Maryland, a slate roof is as common as an asphalt roof – on older historic homes and structures they are, anyway. As new homes are built, many developers and homebuyers are looking for ways to keep up that historic appearance, so slate roofs have picked up some popularity. 

What is a slate roof?

Slate is a natural material that comes from the earth, primarily in Italy. A slate roof is a premium roofing material because it has to be mined. It is that process that gives us a beautiful stone that makes a long-lasting roofing material. Installing a slate roof is a time-consuming process because of the care it requires not to break the slate slabs. 

Because it is a beautiful material, yet too expensive for many homeowners, manufacturers have designed asphalt shingles that mimic a slate roof in appearance. While this may give a home the appearance of a slate roof, there is no comparison when you look at the details. 

Why is slate used for roofing?

The slate roof benefits are key to why this distinct and unique roofing material is used so often. Before you select this roofing material, your slate roof contractor will discuss the capabilities and value of a slate roof. Additionally, they should review certain things about a slate roof you should be aware of. First, let’s look at the benefits: 

  • Color and Pattern Options


With slate being a natural material, it can come in a variety of colors and patterns. Once the material has been mined and is shipped to the roofing manufacturers to prepare for slate roof use, the texture is smoothed to a uniform precision. This also creates patterns, either a standard style width or a wide width. Colors vary, with black, green, greys, purples, and reds being available, lending to the overall style for a home’s architecture. 

  • Lifespan of a Slate Roof


Slate roofing is essentially made from rock, particularly homogeneous metamorphic rock, and is composed of clay or volcanic ash through regional metamorphism. Essentially, before a slate roof is ever installed, it has existed for millions of years. It is an incredible and durable material that can last for hundreds of years when installed professionally. 

Before a slate roof can be installed on a home, your roofing contractor will have an engineering inspection performed. Any home that has never had a slate roof will usually need additional supporting rafters installed first because of the extreme weight of slate. 

Why is slate expensive?

While a slate roof is beautiful, it is costly to have installed, but when you review the reasons why it makes sense: 

  • The cost of a real slate roof is attributed to it being an all-natural product that is mined from the ground and then processed from quarry blocks to pieces that measure approximately 8” x 8’ x 4’ and 2” thick slabs. 
  • The slabs are then split by hand to a thickness between 3/16 and 1/4 inch before having holes drilled or punched along the edge for nails. 
  • Shipping this heavy material is another cost factor. 
  • The weight of slate requires more workers to get these 600 to 800 pound squares to a rooftop. 
  • The cutting process of the slate is done onsite and is a time-consuming process as workers must avoid breaking or cracking the slate roof pieces. 

How many years does a slate roof last? Does a slate roof need to be replaced?

Unless your slate roof suffers from a natural disaster that rips it off your home, it will last up to a hundred years, or even longer. Routine inspections are recommended and any maintenance steps and repairs that may be needed will guarantee the long lifespan of your slate roof.    

Are slate roofs better than tile?

When comparing slate roof vs tile roof, there are many similarities. For example, both are fire and wind-resistant, somewhat moss-resistant, and both are durable materials, although a slate roof will break more easily when walked on, though it is recommended not to walk on a clay tile roof either.

Both have a long lifespan of 70 years or even longer, and basic cleaning is recommended for both for maintenance purposes, preferably by a professional. Both can be hail resistant to a certain degree. Do note that a raised clay tile roof is more likely to experience damage than flat clay tiles. 

Another thing to note is that clay is heavier than slate tile roofs and comes in more color options. Additionally, both need engineering inspection before installation. A clay tile roof can be a DIY project whereas a slate roof should only be installed by experienced professionals. Improper installation of either can cause problems later. 

Ornate window on a roof in front of gray and brown slates.

In Closing 

A slate roof can be a beautiful enhancement to any home but may not look right in some neighborhoods. If your home is a POA division, you’ll want to get approval before going to the expense of getting a slate roof. You should also consider the resale value of your home. If you over-improve, you most likely won’t get your money back. If you are interested in the possibility of getting a slate roof in Baltimore, MD, reach out to the Recovery Roofing & Home Improvement, Inc. by calling (410)-288-1633.