Why use slate roofing?

If you’ve ever seen a house roof, the likelihood is that you have seen slate – its durability and longevity have helped to make it a go-to choice of roofing material in the UK since the Romans were around. It must sometimes seem that things were much simpler in those days!

Now, though, even if you are sure that you would like to invest in slate roofing for your Yorkshire home, you still need to choose between local, imported and man-made slate.
These three choices have different implications as far as quality and value are concerned, so let’s take a closer look at them.

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Local Slate

When you are on the lookout for tough, hardwearing and watertight slate, it’s difficult to look past good old British slate. Its attractiveness has only been further boosted by recently-introduced regulation requiring all freshly quarried British slate to be both frost and fireproof.

There are also various types of British slate from which to choose, with the greyish-blue Welsh slate the most sought-after option. It is also widely regarded as the highest-quality slate that you can buy.

However, it should also be noted that there are various other very prestigious British slates
available, ranging from Scottish Ballachulish, Westmorland and Burlington to Easdale slates and Cornish Delabole.

Naturally, the highest-quality slates may not be a brilliant choice if you only have so much money to spend. They can be very expensive, thanks to not only the cost of the materials themselves, but also the labour required for installation. Having a natural slate roof fitted calls for the most professional skills, and you can rest assured of having to pay a premium for such skills.

If you are having an existing slate roof refitted, you do have the option of asking the roofer to save as many of your current slates as possible. These could then be matched with the new tiles and laid randomly to create a new, distinctive character for your roof, or you could simply have your old slates reclaimed (sold off). This serves the purpose of both saving you some cash and providing a sustainable solution to the sheer level of demand for slate roofing.

Slate tiles lined up
Slate roofing tiles
Completed slate tiled roof

Imported Slate

If you require a more affordable alternative to local slate, you may be interested to learn that imported slate is gaining great popularity in the UK. While Spain provides about 75% of all of the world’s slate, Canada and China are also prominent sources, with the latter thought to be a good alternative to Welsh slate.

Although this slate has come in for criticism from some quarters, it is certainly an option, provided that you undertake the necessary research. For example, we would urge you to only choose slate that has been tested to BS EN 123261, which tests for water absorption.

It’s also vital to have the carbonate content checked for any slate that you wish to import, given the potential for discolouring. A content percentage of 20% or more is considered quite high. It is natural for slate to show slight colour changes, but if you are concerned, we would advise you to ask your manufacturer for both a statement and a guarantee, the latter of a minimum of 30 years.

Before you use any slate, you should tap a piece of it to assess its quality. It has been said that good quality slate tends to make a ringing sound, as opposed to the thudding noise associated with slate of a lesser standard.

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Man-made slate

Man-made slate roofing is considerably cheaper than natural slates, but also lacks their longevity and other characteristics. The manufacture of man-made slate tiles to the same size and colour makes them much easier to lay, thereby also ensuring greater uniformity.

Such consistency means that man-made slate tiles can be laid single bond while still preventing water from getting into your home, which is a huge advantage. The fact that man-made slate is frequently pre-drilled with holes will also save you money in the long run.

Another option that you may wish to consider is concrete slate or roof tiles made from slate dust. Lightweight fibre-cement slates are the best choice if you desire a more complicated design such as a steep roof pitch, although such slate may be at risk of discolouring as it weathers.

Alternatively, you may want to give some thought to clay-based slates, which are relative newcomers to the world of man-made slates that nonetheless offer exceptional weather resistance.


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Findley Roofing & Building recently carried out a number of significant improvements to our Edwardian terrace house, to our complete… “Punctual, professional and respectful”

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Findley Roofing & Building provided a much-needed new roof, bringing the house right up to date. It was a pleasure… “A knowledgeable, reliable company”

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