Virginia slate roof shingles date as far back as the mid-1600s, not long after the colonies were officially founded in 1606. The first slate used in the colonies was imported from North Wales, but colonists opened their own quarries in 1785 where they could take advantage of the natural slate found in their new world.
It was not uncommon to see slate paired with brick in the early colonial days. Due to the abundance of clay in the region, brick quickly became the building material of choice. Homes in Virginia exemplify a range of building styles with Federal and Georgian styles high on the list with their stately brick facades. Slate tiles were also used on Queen Anne, Gothic Revival and Second Empire styles.
As asphalt shingles gained popularity in the early 1900s for their relative durability and affordable price, they were also easier to ship than slate tiles, and the use of natural slate as a roofing material declined.
Preservation efforts have seen a rise in the use of natural slate roofing tiles to restore some buildings to their original state. However, natural slate is expensive, heavy, and difficult to install, so projects that desire the beauty of slate without the added expense and difficulty have other options to consider as well.
Virginia’s five climate regions — the Tidewater, Piedmont, Northern Virginia, Western Mountain, and Southwestern Mountain — are wide ranging and include the Atlantic coast and eight mountain ranges. These distinct areas come together to create a state where the climate is varied.
In Northern Virginia, the winter sees temperatures that can fall below freezing contrasted with warm and humid summers. The Tidewater region includes the southern Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore Regions. This area has hot and humid summers, and winter temperatures rarely fall below freezing. The coastal areas can also be subjected to the impacts of hurricanes and the high winds and heavy rainfalls.
Roofing Materials For Virginia
Virginia slate shingles were a common roofing material in the early days of the American colonies, but they were largely replaced by mass-produced asphalt shingles as time went on.
Asphalt shingles are relatively durable, and they are an affordable option for projects with a tighter budget. They are mass-produced and can be seen on a wide range of roofs, but they don’t add a unique aesthetic to a home.
Available in a range of colors
Can be replaced by the homeowner
Some are available with a Class 4 impact rating
Less eco-friendly than other roofing materials
Can be damaged during storms and by high winds
Requires continual maintenance to replace broken or missing shingles
Asphalt granules wear down over time
Freeze-thaw cycles can make them brittle and susceptible to cracking
Slate shingles offer incomparable beauty and historic appeal, but they are heavy and can be costly.
Natural, Old World beauty
Durable and long-lasting if property cared for
Difficult to install and requires specialized installation
Can chip, flake, or break if not properly maintained
Composite Slate Shingles
Composite slate shingles offer the depth and dimension of traditional slate but without the weight, specialized installation, and added cost to install and maintain.
Class 4 impact resistance
Class A fire rating
No maintenance over the life of the shingles
50-year limited transferable warranty
Made from recycled materials
Capture the charm of natural slate shingles
Higher cost than other roofing materials
The Best Roofing Material For Virginia
Composite slate tiles maintain the original charm of naturally-sourced materials but without the disadvantages. Regardless of the home’s style or design, the natural look of composite slate roofing provides stunning beauty and durability that will make your roof last for years to come without worrying about care or maintenance.
The climate in Virginia can vary based on where you live. Coastal areas experience hot, humid summers and mild winters with an increased risk of storms and the damage that comes with them. Inland and northern areas have cold winters with temperatures that routinely fall below freezing, and hot, humid summers. The risk of intense storms is lower, but the freeze-thaw cycle can still damage roofing materials and lead to leaks that compromise the integrity of the roof.
Using Brava Old World slate tiles for your Virginia slate roof shingles means that the roof will be durable enough to stand up to temperature fluctuations and resist damage from storm events that asphalt shingles and natural slate roofs can’t. It also doesn’t require regular maintenance to maintain its beauty and integrity.
While composite slate has a high initial cost, it offsets the savings throughout its life.