Is Slate Roofing a Good Choice?
Slate roofs can last upwards of 200 years! If you know your home will be yours or remain in the family, it can be a very wise investment. However, they’re not without their drawbacks. Slate roofs will be among the heaviest of roofs and require careful inspection prior to install to ensure any necessary architectural upgrades are installed.
Slate roofing is fireproof! We definitely consider that a major plus for a roof! Additionally, slate is incredibly hail resistant. A recent study done by the National Slate Association highlighted their efficacy as a roofing material during storms. A ¼’’ slate shingle took impacts from 1 ¾’’ hail at 69 MPH and displayed no damage. Since mica occupies some compound in slate and has a ‘’cleavage’’ quality, it will never be impervious to damage from ‘’Acts of God’’. However, it does a pretty darn good job. That being said, you need to carefully read your insurance policy to understand what the implications of installing a slate roof might be. If you are buying a home with a slate roof, it is a good time to double check to make sure you have the correct policy.
Primary cons to slate roofing include the high-cost & experience required to properly install one which will serve its purpose. Slate roofing can cost upwards of 4x a standard asphalt roofing system.
We also need to address selecting the right contractor to install or repair slate roofing. These roofs require unique experience. Selecting an inexperienced contractor for the job could be bad for you and your contractor. If he/she doesn’t understand the expected labor costs, they could end up losing money on the project. One of the main attractions to roof slates is that it will last a long time. The worst-case scenario would come from an improperly installed roof which will have premature problems, defeating the purpose of the large investment. Likewise, the warranty you get from an inexperienced contractor shouldn’t give you peace of mind.
Warranty work can be tricky. Let’s say your contractor goes out of business or moves locations. Who’s going to do the repair work if it falls under the warranty? What about if it turns out to be a manufacture defect? Many manufactures require that you use multiple of their products and accessories to create a roofing system which qualifies for coverage outside of insurance claims.
The Contractor Quiz
So how do you know if a contractor has experience with slate roofing projects? You should select a licensed contractor, even if it isn't necessary for your area. Licensure speaks volumes about a contractor, especially if it’s not required. The exams contain industry knowledge, best practices, and procedural changes. Contractors at the very least, pass their exams to become licensed. Usually though, they are in a constant state of learning and take their profession seriously.
You can perform a short quiz to determine their level of expertise with slate roofing. Since slate has a lifespan of 75-200 years, you can imagine it would be nice to have high quality materials to work alongside it. Specifically, the decking should be individual planks, 3/4'' to 1 1/2'' thick. Any wood which uses glue as part of it's composite is not suitable for a slate roofing project. The glue wont stand the test of time, and should be avoided.
Additionally, you should ask your contractor how they go about determining if the house is sturdy enough to handle all the weight which will be placed on the structure. They should also know to mix up their slate supply as they work to avoid random color changes as material pallets switch.
Roof jacks should be utilized to minimize worker contact with the slate.