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How Long Do Slate Roofs Last? Factors, Types & FAQs

Slate Roof

It’s not cheap to replace a roof, even if you can do it yourself. So, when it comes to replacing the roof on your home or buying a home with a recently replaced roof, one must consider the material.

There are many different types of roofing material: asphalt shingles, torch-on rolls, metal, etc. And another material that is very popular in many parts of the world is slate. Even though it’s incredibly durable and long-lasting, slate roofs are very expensive, so they aren’t for everyone. On average, you can expect slate roofs to last 50 to 125 years.

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How Long Do Slate Roofs Last?

Since slate roofs are so expensive compared to other materials it’s important to understand what you’re getting with the material.

Depending on the type of slate used for your roof, you can typically expect the roof to last easily up to 75 years. In some cases, slate roofs have been known to last 100 to 200 years, depending on the slate that’s used. On the other hand, if a “soft” slate is used on the roof, you can expect a slightly shorter lifespan of 50 to 125 years.

That being said, when compared to other roofing materials, even soft slate can last a heck of a lot longer than most.

Factors That Affect the Lifespan

Several things can affect how long your slate roof will last.

Environmental Conditions

Most weather conditions won’t typically affect your slate roof because of its durability. However, they aren’t immune to damage from extreme weather like tornados or hurricanes. No roofing material really is, so that’s why we carry homeowner’s insurance.

Quality of Installation

There’s a little more to installing a slate roof than other roofing materials. This is where doing some research on local contractors goes a long way. When hiring a contractor, ensure that they have experience specifically with slate roofs.

A slate roof must be installed and flashed properly to assure its full life. The same principle applies to hiring a contractor for any maintenance or repairs needed on the roof.

Foot Traffic

Obviously, the roof isn’t something we often walk on. But there are always some circumstances that require being on the roof. This is not ideal for a slate roof because they aren’t hard to break when walking on them.

If anyone needs to go on your roof, ensure that they know how to walk on a slate tile without breaking it. If not, you may have a hefty repair bill on your hands to prevent leaking if one breaks.

What is Slate Roofing Material Made From?

There are several types of slate materials to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Real Slate or Synthetic Slate

Real slate is made from metamorphic rock. It’s available in several natural colors and often has a hand-chiseled look. On the other hand, synthetic slate is typically made from various recycled materials and formed to look exactly like the real stuff.

Synthetic slate offers homeowners a cheaper alternative to real slate. The only person that will probably be able to tell the tiles aren’t natural is an experienced contractor. However, you do sacrifice some durability and longevity with synthetic slate.

Soft or Hard Slate

The other consideration when it comes to slate is soft or hard. The more pricey option is hard because it’s much more durable and has better insulation and fire-resistance properties. In comparison, soft slate gives you a slightly more affordable option.

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Closing Thoughts

No roofing material quite compares to a slate tile roof. Not only are they extremely durable and long-lasting, but they are available in some beautiful colors and designs. If you’re considering a slate roof, they are worth the investment, especially considering the long-term value they bring.

Featured Image Credit: Ron Porter, Pixabay


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