Slate is a roofing material fit for kings–literally! Castles and military buildings built over 700 years ago across Europe used slate as a roofing material because of its incredible durability and high cost.
The price decreased as quarries increased in number, and today, many Victorian-era homes across Europe and America feature elegant slate roofing work.
While now slate is affordable even for those of us who aren’t royalty, it is still one of the most expensive roofing materials. So the real question is: are slate roofs worth the price?
Material Fit for a King
The benefits of slate roofs are numerous, meriting the price tag that comes with them.
First off, slate roofs have the longest lifespan of any other roofing material. The lowest-quality slate roofs will last 75 years! Most roofs have a max lifespan of 50 years.
If you take care of your slate roof, and are quick to repair damage to your shingles and roofing structure, your slate roof could last 200 years. While you probably won’t live 200 years, having the peace of mind that you won’t have to ever worry about your roof again is well worth the price.
Slate roofs are also kind to the environment. Slate is a homogenous metamorphic rock–it’s completely natural. When a slate roof has lived out its life, it won’t add any waste to our planet.
With wildfires running rampant through the west, slate roofs are also capable of protecting your home from the flames. Even if you don’t live out west, having a fire-resistant roof gives peace of mind.
Another benefit of slate is its appearance. Kings didn’t choose slate just because of its durability (though that’s certainly part of it). Slate is a stunning choice for roofing material and comes in a variety of color options. And, since its natural, each home has a unique look to it; nature doesn’t make anything the exact same way twice.
Finally, the biggest push for slate is its durability. As we mentioned, it is fire-resistant, made from volcanic ash, and can last a couple centuries. Those qualities are not found in cheap materials. Slate is strong, able to withstand both time and weather. If you want to feel personally protected by Superman, slate is your best option.
The Drawbacks of the Crown
Slate was a choice among kings and military operations, but heavy hangs the head that wears the crown–literally.
Slate is an extremely heavy roofing choice and not all homes are built to support its weight. If you’re hoping to install a slate roof, have someone check out your rafters or trusses. They will be able to tell you whether it can support the slate roof as is, if it needs some extra backing, or if it simply isn’t possible for your home.
Additionally, the installation is tricky. Installing a slate roof isn’t a DIY project and it isn’t one you want to trust anyone who hasn’t worked with slate before. The material is fragile to work with and inexperience will easily chip and break away at the slate tiles (which are not easily replaced).
When choosing your contractor for a slate roof, make sure they are well-versed in the art, otherwise, you may be paying more out of pocket.
Finally, the cost of slate can be seen as a burden. Slate, on the cheaper side, can cost $500 per square of roof, and go up to $2000 per square. It’s hard to believe that centuries ago, it was even more expensive than that.
So Is Slate Worth the Price Tag?
The short answer is that you have to decide for yourself. You have to weigh in how long you are going to live in your home, what you find most valuable about a roof, and how much you are willing to spend.
The longer answer is probably. If you plan on your home being your forever home, if it has the proper support system, and you have a trusted contractor, then slate is a very good option for you. While you may be spending five to ten times more on your slate roof, you will be enjoying the benefits of it for ten times as long.
Not to mention, it will be an impenetrable fortress against your foes.