Slate Roofing Shingles
Slate roofing shingles are shingles made from a fine-grained rock. Slate is a very elegant, high-end roofing material. It's one of the more durable roofing products (can last up to one hundred years) and also one of the most expensive. It is easily three times as expensive as any other roofing product.
Slate was a popular roofing method in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth-century. Slate was at its peak of popularity as a roofing material in the United States in the 1880s. It was used primarily throughout the Eastern seaboard states and into some southern regions. Slate declined in popularity during the early twentieth-century as other roofing methods became available, at more reasonable prices. New mining technology has made slate a much more affordable, durable roofing option than ever before.
How are Slate Shingles made?
The rock that makes up slate is actually a combination of many minerals, clay and/or volcanic ash compressed over time into sheets of rock. This rock can easily be split, with the right tools, along the grain or cleavage of rock, forming flat pieces of rock that can be used on roofs. Slate is mined in Portugal, Spain, Wales, United Kingdom and China. In the United States, slate is mined in Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania. Slate rock is cut into shingle sized pieces for roofing. It's available in a variety of colors.
How long do Slate shingles last?
Slate is one of the most durable, long-lasting roofing options available. In fact, in some instances, the nails used to attach the shingles rust out long before the shingle goes bad. You can be sure they will easily last for thirty years, and with some routine maintenance, may last another 30 years. In some instances, slate shingles may last up to a hundred years.
Common problems with Slate Shingles
Slate shingles are heavy -- after all, they are made from rock. This may require additional reinforcement of some of the roof framing on homes. Slate roofs are also not meant to be walked on -- the slate tiles can easily break in half or shatter. This can make upkeep of gutters difficult, at best. Typically, slate is used on very steeply pitched roofs. It requires specialized installation (roofers that specialize in using slate), and frequent maintenance to check for problems.
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Slate Shingle Ratings
Slate shingles are very desirable in areas prone to forest fires. This roofing material is highly fire resistant. Most shingles are rated by class. Class A ratings are the most fire resistant. Slate shingles can be considered class A rated because they are virtually fire resistant.