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Slate Roof Tiles

Roof slates are incredibly popular among homeowners for their incredible aesthetics, whether for a new build or an existing property. Natural slate has a timeless natural beauty that lends itself bril...

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Common Questions

What Are Roof Slates?

Roof slates, often also referred to as slate roof tiles, are a low-profile roofing material manufactured from natural slate. The raw slate is generally extracted from quarries in Wales, Spain and Canada.

Thanks to slate’s unmistakable appearance and durability, it is one of the oldest roofing materials still used today. Roof slates have been in use for centuries, with a so-called “slate boom” occurring in 19th Century Europe. Slate continues to be a popular choice amongst homeowners and roofing professionals today.

What Are the Different Types of Slate?

Although there are many properties they all share, slates from each of the main regions across the world each have a number of unique qualities, thanks to their environment and differing manufacturing processes.

Spain is Europe’s largest producer of natural slate, making Spanish slate the most common, particularly in Europe. Due to the unique environment in Spain’s primary slate-producing region of Galicia, Spanish roof slates are incredibly durable, and feature a gorgeous mix of blue and grey colouring.

Wales is another major producer of natural slate. Welsh roof slates are incredibly hard and dense, which makes them ideal for many uses beyond roofing applications. Welsh slate is however considerably darker than other varieties, and features the iconic black and grey mix most are familiar with.

Outside of Europe, Canada is another region famed for its slate roof tiles. Canadian slate is particularly suited to colder climates with severe winters. This is because Canadian slate does not age as quickly when exposed to extreme cold. Like Welsh slate, Canadian slate features a distinct dark colouring with subtle tones of blue.

How Much Does a Slate Roof Cost?

The cost of a slate roof can vary depending on the size of the project and the type of slate you choose. However, you can typically expect to pay between £1.30 and £1.70 per individual slate.

Therefore, while coverage can depend on the size of slates you choose, you can expect to spend between £30 and £40 per square meter when using natural slate.

While this is considerably higher than many other materials such as man-made fibre cement slates, natural slate requires very little upkeep and will outlast most other materials significantly – making the cost over time much lower than you think.

What is the Benefit of Natural Slate?

Both natural slates and manmade slates are available on the market today. Unlike natural slate however, synthetic slates are generally manufactured from plastic or fibre cement. As manufacturing techniques have improved, these manmade options now very closely mimic the appearance of natural slate.

There are still many benefits to using natural slate, however. Due to the unique profile of each tile, and the unmistakable patina, they still offer superior curb appeal and additional property value. Natural slate still also boasts a much greater lifespan and durability.

There is one significant disadvantage of natural roof slates however, while they are largely very strong, they can be prone to chipping or cracking. This often occurs in areas which experience severe hailstorms or during transport. This is why we recommend that homeowners account for 10% wastage when ordering natural slates.

How to Cut Slate Roof Tiles

Roof slates will often need to be cut on-site. As long as you’re confident using power tools, and you’ve got the right safety equipment to hand, it can be a rather simple job.

  1. Work outdoors or somewhere with good ventilation. Cutting slate can generate a lot of dust. Therefore you should also wear gloves, goggles and a dust mask.
  2. Mark out the line where you’d like to cut using a straight edge and a pencil or felt-tip pen.
  3. To ensure a clean break when you cut, score this line using a Stanley knife or chisel.
  4. Using a circular saw or angle grinder, carefully cut along the line you’ve marked on your slate roof tile.
  5. Clean the cut edge using a soft cloth to finish.

It is also possible to cut slate roof tiles using hand tools such as tile cutters or even snapping the tile with a hammer and chisel, but these are more labour-intensive and it’s easier to make mistakes.

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