Slate is a durable, long lasting roofing which has been a popular roofing choice in Great Britain since the days of the Romans; way back, when things were a whole lot easier.
These days, however, you have to make your choice from local, imported or man-made slate and decide which offers the best quality and value.
Let’s examine the three types of slates from which you could make your choice.
British slate is known for its toughness, hard wearing and watertight qualities; making it a great addition to any roof. There is a new regulation that all newly quarried British slate must be frost and fire-proof, which is also an added benefit.
British slate comes in diverse types, with the most popular being Welsh slate; a greyish blue and highly sought after slate; which is often regarded as the highest quality slate available. That having been noted, there are some other alternatives for slate, including Scottish Ballachulish , Westmorland, Burlington, Easdale slates and Cornish Delabole; and they are all very prestigious slates.
If you are on a tight budget, such high quality slate might not be the best option as they come at quite a hefty cost. The setback here is not just the cost of the materials but the labour involved a well. Installing a natural slate roof involves professional skill application and thus a big cost for you to factor into your budget.
You could however cut down cost when re-fitting your roof by asking the roofer to save as many of the existing slates as possible. You could then match with the new tiles and then lay them randomly to create a new roof character, or get it reclaimed (sold off). This not only saves you some cash, but also provides a sustainable solution to slate roofing demand.
This is a cheaper alternative to local slate and is quite becoming a popular choice in the UK. You could pick slate from the likes of Spain; provider of about 75% of all slate worldwide; to Canada and even China, which is believed to be a good option to the welsh slate.
Though this slate is commonly looked down upon and criticised by some slate critics, it sure does presents itself as an option as long as it is properly researched. Ensure that any imported slate you use has been tested to BS EN 123261 – this tests for water absorption.
The carbonate content should also be checked, as this could encourage discolouring, with anything above 20% content being considered quite high. However, slight colour changes are natural, but if this troubles you, you could ask your manufacturer for a statement as well as your sure guarantee, which should be 30 years minimum.
Before using the slate, you should check for quality by tapping a piece of it. Some say good quality slate should make a ringing sound, compared to not so great slate which simply makes a thudding noise.
Man-made slate roofing lacks the longevity and characteristics of natural slates. However because it is considerably cheaper it is therefore a very popular choice. Man-made slate tiles are produced to the same size and colour, making them far easier to lay and thus ensure better uniformity. This consistency allows for them to be laid single bond yet still keep the water out of your home, which is an immense benefit. Man-made slate is also usually pre-drilled with holes which will save you in the long run.
There is also the option of concrete slate or roof tiles which are made from slate dust. If you desire a complex design such as a steep roof pitch then you are best to go for fibre-cement slates, as this is a more lightweight option. The challenge with this choice is that over time it could well experience discolouring as it becomes weathered. Yet another option are slated that are clay-based, which are quite new to the man-made slate market; and they offer a far better resistance to the weather.