Slate roofs have been used for centuries, taking advantage of the natural beauty and durability of slate. Slate has been used as a roofing material since its first appearance around 1300 AD in North Wales, and in the 16th century, made its appearance in America. The first American quarry opened in 1734 and in the 1800s, production made it so that slate, while still expensive, became available for average homeowners.
The strength of hard slate allows slate roofs to last for up to 150 years while slate that is characterized as soft will last between 50 and 90 years. In its natural state, slate is a beautiful material that weathers over time, and depending on the chemical makeup of the slate, can have purple highlights, green hues, or its more traditional blacks and grays.
Despite its strength and durability, slate comes with downsides. Because it is a natural material that requires significant labor to produce, slate is expensive. It is incredibly heavy, up to four times the weight of asphalt shingles, which means that some buildings will need to add structural support to hold its weight which can add cost to an already expensive project.
If you notice that your slate roof is showing signs of wear or damage and is in need of attention, you’ll need to decide whether to repair or replace the damaged tiles or the entire roof.
How To Determine If You Should Repair Or Replace A Slate Roof
You should be conducting regular visual inspections of your slate roof from the ground level regularly, especially after a heavy rain or high winds, to make sure the tiles are undamaged. Damaged tiles should be addressed by a roofing professional immediately to prevent water from seeping under the tile and causing damage to the roof deck or creating a leak in the interior of the structure.
A roofing professional with experience with slate roofing should conduct an annual inspection on the roof and slate tiles to ensure they are undamaged and not in need of repair. If repairs are needed, it’s up to you to determine whether you should repair or replace the roof.
When Should You Repair A Slate Roof?
Sometimes a slate roof needs repairs to extend the life of the material and isn’t in need of a full roof replacement. Here are some examples of when you could repair your slate roof:
Tiles in a small area or a few tiles are broken or otherwise damaged
Tiles in a small area or a few tiles are missing or slipped
Tiles in a small area or a few tiles are faded and unsightly, affecting the overall aesthetic of the house
The flashings are in need of repair or replacement
The gutters are in need of repair or replacement
When Should You Replace A Slate Roof?
When slate roof damage is extensive, you should consider replacing the roof. Here are some examples of when you should consider replacing your slate roof:
Missing or broken shingles in larger areas or scattered across the roof. If you notice that 20-30% of the shingles are broken or missing, the roof may be nearing the end of its usable life.
Discoloration across large areas. If a slate roof begins absorbing moisture, that moisture can seep through and onto the roof deck, causing damage and leaks.
Leaks in the interior of the structure. If the interior of the structure is leaking, that likely means the slate roof needs to be replaced.
When It’s Time to Replace A Slate Roof, Consider Composite Slate Tiles
Slate creates a beautiful and time-tested aesthetic, however its weight and maintenance needs make it a difficult material to install and maintain. Modern technology has allowed for the creation of new, more durable and lower maintenance materials that create the same look, but without the downsides.
Old World Slate roof tiles from Brava are a beautiful alternative to slate that captures the look and feel of slate. The composite material is lightweight, which makes it easier to install and doesn’t create the need for additional structural support.
Our state-of-the-art compression molding technology gives Old World Slate unparalleled strength and durability. It can even be walked on without fear of breaking a tile. Our roof tile molds are cast from pieces of hand-chiseled slate that creates a natural edge and the deep color exposure throughout the entire tile creates a varied depth of color.
One of the draws of natural slate is that it is a natural material with less of an environmental impact than other material. Composite slate is fully sustainable, and we use recycled material in all of our products. Our Old World Slate tiles are fully recyclable so they can be recycled at the end of their life and leftover material from construction can be recycled as well.
Contact the experts at Brava today to discuss your slate roof replacement needs.