Most homeowners are moving away from asphalt shingles to more premium options such as slate tile roofs. Slate tiles come from natural rock and have been used as a roofing material for hundreds of years.
It is not a mystery that people are opting for the tried-and-tested. Roofs that only last for 20 to 30 years don’t make economic sense anymore, especially if you intend to live in a house for a lifetime.
However, slate tiles have advantages and drawbacks, just like any other roofing option. Therefore, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with them before making a decision. We outline some of the pros and cons below.
Table of Contents
Pros of Slate Tile Roofing
Before we get to the drawbacks, let’s look at what makes slate tile roofing a popular option. Here are some of its advantages.
Natural Beauty Appearance
Slate tiles have a natural beauty with a classic, gothic appearance. The tiles feature slight variations in color and texture, giving the roof a rich and unique character. A house with such a roof will certainly stand out from the rest.
Most people are surprised to know that slate tiles come in a variety of colors despite being natural. You’ll get them in gray, green, purple, black, gold, and red. Some of the tiles will even have a mixture of several colors.
Another advantage of slate tiles is they never lose their original color. So, the natural beauty is guaranteed to last for the lifetime of the tiles.
One of the most notable advantages of slate tile roofing is its longevity. Very few roofing alternatives can rival it in this respect. It is probably why you are considering the option yourself. But exactly how long do slate roof tiles last?
A slate tile roof can last anywhere between 50 and 100 years. However, it can last even more with proper installation and maintenance. In fact, it is not uncommon to see houses built in the 1800s with their slate tile roofs still intact.
One disadvantage with many roofing options is their susceptibility to damage. That results in frequent repairs and maintenance that are usually heavy on your pocket. You will not incur such costs with slate tile roofing owing to its durability.
Slate is a hard material that can withstand harsh weather conditions, including temperature fluctuations, high winds, or even hail. Also, it is waterproof due to its high density. That means you won’t have to worry about fungal growth.
Moreover, slate tile roofing is fire resistant. It has a class A fire rating, making it your best bet if you live in an area prone to wildfires.
Slate tile roofing maintenance is not frequent. You need not do much save for an annual cleaning to remove dirt and debris. Repairs are rare as well since the tiles are durable. And if any, they usually involve replacing a broken tile or two.
Slate tile roofing is long-lasting and does not contribute to waste. A large percentage of construction and demolition waste that ends up in US landfills is asphalt waste. Unlike slate, asphalt shingles only last for 20 to 30 years.
Moreover, slate comes from natural stone. Therefore, it does not give off VOCs and other pollutants. If the tiles outlive their usefulness, they are also recyclable. You can install them on another roof or utilize them for another purpose.
Slate tiles are dense. Therefore, they will not allow heat to penetrate the home during the summer, thus keeping your house cool. Moreover, they will not allow heat to escape during winter, thus retaining warmth inside the home. In other words, you will never worry about hefty energy bills again.
Increases Your Home's Resale Value
If you intend to sell your home in the future, slate tiles are an added advantage. Homebuyers will prefer a house with a beautiful roof that they will not have to replace after several years. They will also be willing to pay more for such a house.
Cons of Slate Tile Roofing
We have painted a rosy picture thus far. Let’s balance things out by looking at some of the disadvantages of slate tile roofing.
Expensive to Buy and Install
One of the significant drawbacks of slate tile roofing is its high cost. It is the most expensive option, even more than its counterparts-clay and concrete tiles. You should expect to pay $5 to $15 per square foot for the tiles.
Also, installing slate tiles is not a straightforward affair. It is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and requires specialized knowledge and skills. So, installation is not cheap either. Overall, it will cost you between $10 and $30 per square foot to install the roof.
All state tile roofs don’t cost the same. The following table outlines the costs of various options, from the best slate roof tiles to the least.
Cost per square foot
However, it is imperative to point out that you can recover most of the costs incurred in the long term. For instance, an energy-efficient roof will save you a lot in energy bills over the years. Moreover, you will not incur additional costs due to frequent repairs and replacements.
Slate tiles are heavy, weighing around 800 to 1500 pounds. That weight is bound to put a lot of pressure on your roofing deck. Without proper reinforcement, it will cave in under pressure. You need to hire a structural engineer to evaluate whether the structure can handle the weight.
Despite being durable, slate tiles are naturally brittle and will crack or break under impact. That can happen when you step on them during installation, cleaning, or maintenance. Also, fallen branches from overhanging trees can cause damage.
Slate tiles are hard to replace when they get damaged. That’s because they are naturally occurring and will have variations in thickness, color, and texture. Therefore, learn how to walk on slate tiles during cleaning and maintenance to avoid unnecessary repairs. Also, get rid of branches from overhanging trees that could potentially fall and damage the tiles.
Challenging to Install
As we mentioned above, installing slate tiles is challenging. First, the tiles vary in thickness. They are also heavy and require a lot of labor. Furthermore, they are brittle and are likely to crack or break when you step on them.
A contractor who only installs other roofing options like asphalt will not hack it. This particular job requires specialized skills and experience. Unfortunately, that may not stop them from trying it out. That’s why screening your contractors beforehand is crucial.
Insist on experience in slate tile roofing installation. Ask for evidence of previous work or testimonials from satisfied customers. Remember, an incorrectly installed slate tile roof will not be as durable and long-lasting as expected.
Is a slate roof worth it? The answer is yes. Some people might hesitate due to the high cost of buying and installation, and understandably so. However, it is a wise investment in the long term if you consider longevity, durability, and energy efficiency.
No roofing material is without flaws. Even the best slate roof tiles have their share of drawbacks. However, the benefits far outweigh the cons. Overall, it is one of the best options to consider, especially in this environmentally conscious age.