A Look at Slate Tile Roof Life Expectancy

Slate Roof Life Expectancy

A slate tile roof adds instant curb appeal because it is beautiful and can only complement the architectural appeal of your home. A slate tile roof is usually seen on the most elegant homes, so it’s always associated with luxury and good taste. However, before you make the decision to use natural slate on your roof, you need to know the pros and cons about slate roofing tiles and what alternative options you have that will give you the look of natural slate tiles without the problems that come with real slate roof tiles.

Slate Roofing

What is Slate?

Slate is defined as “a fine-grained rock that can easily be split into thin slabs. It consists mainly of grains of mica, chlorite, and quartz and may also have calcite, pyrite, hematite, and other minerals. Most slate is gray to black in color, but the rock may be red or green, depending on its mineral content.”

slate tile roof life expectancy

Slate is made from the natural compression of clay and other materials under heavy pressure in the earth. This is an organic process, and as the layers build one on top of the other, slabs of different thicknesses are formed. As they are mined, they are sent to where the layers are split and will form the roof tiles used for roofing.

Unreliable Quality

The location where the slate was originally quarried will determine the quality of the product that is delivered to your jobsite for installation. Considering that much of the production is done by hand, there is no way to mechanize a process that continuously produces a consistent and superior roofing tile. Each piece of slate roof tile can be no better than the effort put into producing it. That leaves a lot of room for errors in workmanship and quality control. Here are a few things to look for concerning the quality of slate:

  • Take a handful of the slate tiles you are going to use and squeeze them together in your hand. If there is a lot of back and forth movement, it is an indication that the tile will not lay evenly when installed.
  • Look for a straight vertical grain running from the top of the slate tile to the bottom. If the grain is swerving and starts to run horizontal, it is an indication that your tile may not be as durable as it should be.
  • Another test of the quality of a slate roof tile is the sound it makes. When you tap it with your knuckle, good slate will ring, and bad slate will sound dull.
  • A bad roof tile can end up absorbing water and changing color in a short period of time, which will definitely affect the aesthetic appeal and integrity of your roof.
  • Slate roofing tiles that have a lot of mineral content can rust and cause the tiles to start coming apart prematurely (delaminating).
how long does a slate roof last


It is important to find a reliable, experienced roofer with references related to installing real slate tiles. You will need to consult with the contractor regarding where to purchase the product and their recommendation on what type of slate roof tiles to purchase. You should also visit some of their jobs to see what kind of work they have produced. Installing a slate tile roof requires a tradesperson with years of experience handling the product, prepping the roof, setting up scaffolding in a way that protects the integrity of the tile during installation, cutting and shaping tiles with hand tools for a perfect fit around pipes and other penetrations in the roof, and being familiar with the myriad parts of a typical slate tile roof installation in order to deliver a beautiful, professionally completed roof.


Slate is a hard rock and is known for withstanding the elements when first mined, but over time, without proper maintenance, it can grow soft and break easily. Even though slate is hard, it is also brittle and can be broken when walked on if you are not careful. The bottom line for ensuring durability is making sure you are getting a high quality slate to begin with.


Natural slate is a beautiful product, but it is very expensive to install and maintain, since it is extremely heavy and requires seasoned professionals to properly install without causing a great deal of damage. The cost of a slate roof tile installation can run on average between $12,000 and $24,000 for an average size home - depending on the location of the home and the pitch of the roof. If your current roof structure isn’t substantial enough to handle the weight of real slate, there will be a sizable cost to upgrade your roof to accommodate the weight.

How Long Does a Slate Roof Last?

Natural slate is said to last 50 to 100+ years, which is a wide range that is dependent upon numerous factors:

  1. Origin and quality of the slate
  2. Correct installation
  3. Proper maintenance and upkeep

Is Synthetic Slate A Better Alternative?

After considering the pros and cons of installing a natural slate roof, you might be asking: “Is there another way to get the beauty and elegance of a slate roof without the extreme costs and dangers associated with slate tile installation? The answer is yes: Brava Old World Slate!

composite slate roof tile

Our composite slate roof tile gives you the great looks and curb appeal that come with having a slate roof, but without the stress of finding specialty roofers to install the product. You will also be free of the worry and expense that comes with maintaining a real slate roof.

  • Our Old World Slate composite shingle will not delaminate because it does not absorb water.
  • Normal temperature extremes won’t bother it.
  • It is available in a variety of colors, limited only by your imagination.
  • Our products are environmentally friendly - made with recycled contents.
  • They are class 4 impact resistant.
  • Both class C and Class A fire ratings can be achieved.
  • A rigid QA process ensures that each slate tile meets the same high-quality standards.

To quote an authoritative source on the topic: “If you desire every slate to be perfect and every slate to be identical to one another, a man-made slate manufactured from plastic, fibre cement or slate dust & resin, will probably meet your needs better.”

composite shingles from Brava

Utilizing composite shingles from Brava, will give your home the look of luxury, but it will also provide you and your family with the security and peace of mind of knowing that your roof is keeping you safe.

Contact us directly for a free sample of our Old World Slate or one of our other composite roofing products and see for yourself why we are the top choice of discerning homeowners.