If asphalt shingles represent the “serviceable and inexpensive” end of a sliding scale, then the item on the other end of the scale from asphalt would be slate. “Classy” and “elegant” are words often used to describe the distinctive look and feel of slate tile roofs.
To use an automotive analogy, where an asphalt shingle roof might be compared to a small Asian compact car, inexpensive but efficient, slate tile is the Rolls-Royce of roofing materials.
Literally carved out of rock, slate roofing tiles are naturally resistant to fire – after all, stone doesn’t burn all that well. Slate is also pretty much impervious to water, greatly reducing the incidence of damage from frost, or breakage due to freezing. Further, since slate is impervious to moisture, choosing slate eliminates entirely the need to periodically paint your roof in order to water-proof it. Slate is also incredibly durable and requires little or no maintenance; some examples of slate are still quite serviceable even after several hundred years.
Slate roofs, however, require special consideration; choosing to reroof your house with slate is not a decision that should be made lightly. Aside from the expense – slate is one of, if not the most, expensive roofing material currently in use – slate is heavy. The relative thinness of slate tile can be misleading; the sheer weight of the material means that not every roof has the structural reinforcement required to support a slate roof. Though extremely durable, slate is brittle, and unlike shingle roofs, roofs tiled with slate cannot support the weight of a person walking on them. This is also one of the reasons why slate will require professional services to install – roofing your house with slate is no do-it-yourself project.
Despite the expense and the generally slow rate of installing a slate roof, the best reason to switch to slate is for its sheer durability. If you’re already considering roofing your house with wood shingles, then you might want to see if slate is a good option for you.