Slate has been a traditional roofing material in America since the 16th century and was used in other areas around the world before that, dating back to around 1300. The first quarry in America was opened in 1734, and in the 1800s slate became more available to the average homeowner, which increased its popularity on homes especially in the northeast region of the country.
Slate roofs can typically last up to 100 years with some lasting upwards of 150 years with proper maintenance and depending on the quality of the original product. Slate roof tiles are manufactured by splitting large pieces of slate into individual tiles that feature their signature raw edge.
As slate roofs weather, they take on a variety of hues depending on the mineral content they contain. Hematite, for instance, will create purple highlights, while chlorite will cause the slate to take on a green hue. Other mineral deposits like carbon lend slate its signature black and gray look.
Despite its longevity and beauty, slate tiles come with a number of different problems, and there is a better alternative for achieving a slate roof without the maintenance and problems that slate roofs have.
Slate Roof Problems
The Final Look Is up to Nature
The final look of natural slate on a roof is up to the minerals it contains and the weather conditions and climate in the area. So while this leads to a natural weathered look, the final product may not be exactly what you expected. For those that have a specific aesthetic in mind, leaving the final look up to chance may not be the best option.
Slate Requires Specialty Installation
The nature of slate makes it difficult to walk on. It can break under the weight of the person walking on it, and it can become slippery if tiles are covered in mildew or mold or when wet, making it dangerous. If tiles have become loose over time, that adds a trip hazard to an already difficult to walk on roof.
Slate is also difficult to install and is not a recommended DIY project. Installation should be handled by a qualified and experienced professional who understands how to prepare the roof, to ensure that it can hold the additional weight of slate, how to cut and fit the tiles, and how to attach it to the roof while protecting the integrity of the tiles and the roof itself.
The Quality Isn’t Consistent
The quality of slate roof tiles depends heavily on where the slate was mined and the quality of the workmanship and quality control. Since it is a natural material, the process to manufacture slate tiles can’t be mechanized, so quality craftsmanship is paramount for a quality product.
If you end up with a low quality slate tile, the problems will add up, which can lead to a roof that absorbs water, has decreased durability, has delamination, and has an unsightly appearance.
They Come with a High Price Tag
Slate tiles are largely manufactured by hand and are made from natural materials, so they are more costly than other types of roofing material. The cost can be mitigated by slate’s lifespan, however it has a large upfront cost combined with maintenance costs over its life.
The Roof May Need Additional Support
If the home was built with a slate roof in mind, there may be enough structural support to hold the weight of slate tiles. If you’re considering adding a slate roof where other materials have been used, you may need to add additional support to the roof which adds additional cost and time to the roofing project.
A Better Alternative to Slate: Brava Old World Slate
If you want the look of a slate roof but without the problems that come with natural slate, Brava’s Old World Slate composite roof tiles are a better alternative.
You Control the Look
The final look of natural slate depends on its mineral content and the weather conditions where it is installed, but composite slate tiles come in a range of Nature-inspired colors that capture the color variation of naturally weathered tiles. We infuse our tiles with natural minerals to give it the multi-toned look that is part of natural slate’s draw. Our product visually matches the look of natural quarried slate to capture the Old World European style.
Installation Is Easy
Slate requires specialized skill and tools to cut to size and install. Brava tiles, on the other hand, don’t require any special tools. In fact, Old World Slate Tiles can be hand nailed or nailed with a pneumatic nail gun. They can be cut with a standard skill saw, or they can be scored with a utility knife and separated by bending over your knee, which makes fitting tiles easy while on the roof. Brava roof tiles can be installed by a professional or by an experienced do-it-yourselfer.
Brava products are manufactured with recycled materials, and our products maintain consistent quality in each tile. Our Old World Slate polymer tiles feature a 1” profile that makes the quality easy to see and feel. With the thickest synthetic slate roof profile available, you can see the beautiful color exposure and unsurpassed durability of our product.
While the cost to install a composite roof is comparable or slightly less expensive than the cost to install a slate tile roof, there are no maintenance costs over the life of the roof. Slate tile roofs need maintenance every five to seven years and maintenance costs can add up to $3,000-$4,000 over the life of the roof.
No Additional Support Is Needed
Brava’s Old World Slate tiles are lightweight, so no additional structural support is needed. This lowers the overall cost of installation and frees up time and resources for other projects.