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7 Types of Slate Roofs

7 Types of Slate Roofs

Just like any roof, whether it’s asphalt, metal, tile or slate, the function is always to provide shelter, shield from rain and snow, and resist the often high speed winds we experience here in Hampton Roads.  Slate, on the other hand, is special in that it is a naturally solid, ultra-dependable and one of the longest lasting roofing materials created by the earth itself.  A slate roof can last anywhere from 100-200 years.  Wow!  Adding more cool points to this stone we admire so much, there are a variety of roof types that can be installed.


Standard Slate Roofs – The most common slate shape is rectangular with a standard 1/4″ – 3/8″ slate length and width and square cut butts.  These standard roofs are laid in uniformly spaced horizontal courses with alternating vertical joints carefully aligned.

Patterned Slate Roofs – Incorporates a specific design or course with different slate shingle colors and/or shapes into the main design of a slate roof, which is most frequently the standard slate roof due to the way it is laid out.   Creativity is one the added benefits where one has several color options and accents, such as floral and geometric patterns, dates, words, or names.  How cool is that?!

Random Width Slate Roofs – The same standard slate roof installation process with slate shingles of the same length and thickness, yet different widths.  They can range from as few as two widths or as many as eight widths.  Most experienced slate roofing contractors find this to be the easiest to lay out and the fastest to install of all the ones mentioned in this article.   

Multicolored (Blended) Slate Roofs – Take the random width slate roof, blend in a mixture of colors together and there you have it - voilah!  A four-color medley tends to be the most popular arrangement, however any number is possible to achieve the desired results.  Blending unfading slate colors and semi-weathering colors is common practice to ease the transition between colors.

Graduated Length Slate Roofs - There was a time when quarries didn’t produce slate in specific lengths and widths, which left roofing contractors sorting the “as available” sized slate shingles on site in graduated order, from longest and widest to shortest and narrowest.  Thus, this type of roof was born!  The organized graduated order laid out on the ground was the blueprint for installation on the roof, where the longest and widest pieces started at the eaves, which is where they carry the most water, and graduating several other lengths with the shortest and narrowest at the top, where they carry the least water.  Slates at the eave could be 1 inch thick, or more, and the 3/16 inch thick at the top of the slope. There’s a lot of muscle going into installing this roof! Whew!

Textural Slate Roofs – No slates go to waste!  Even the slates of rougher surface textures and thicknesses are used by mixing throughout to make this roof truly stand out from the crowd.  The effect creates a rougher hewn appearance by leaving slates of varying thicknesses lying adjacent to each other.  Slates may be of single size, random width, graduated length, uniform color, or multicolor.  

Hang-down (Staggered Butt) Slate Roofs – Longer slate tiles are randomly installed with the top laying in the same course line or higher and the additional length sticking out  past the bottom of the other slates. Thus, creating a hang down appearance.

We couldn’t have said it better than how the National Slate Association states about roof style and design, “it is the genius of the design professional, roofing contractor, or building owner that deserves the credit for creating a spectacular roofscape.”  

The images below are compliments of the National Slate Association showing incredible skill, craftsmanship and creativity in slate roof installation.  

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