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Is a Slate Roof a Good Investment?

An expertly installed slate roof can provide decades of superior protection for your home. Some slate roofs have lasted 100 years. Older types of slate roofs that are still in use in the United States today are sea-green slate, purple slate (typically from Vermont), Pennsylvania black slate, New York red slate, and Monson slate quarried in the state of Maine.

Slate Roof Installation Requires Expertise

Contractors and homeowners warn that poor installation of your slate roof can be costly. These are five common mistakes you don't want to make:


  1. Hiring a contractor without expertise in using slate
  2. Using sub-quality, foreign slate with a poor track record of durability and life-span
  3. Failure to use a three or four-inch headlap when laying the front line of slate, exposing the roof or fascia to damaging water
  4. Using inappropriate flashings for use with slate, (or sub-par nails--copper, hot-dipped galvanized, or stainless nails are recommended) resulting in slate tiles sliding off the roof
  5. Hodgepodge or slipshod patterns in laying down slate roof tiles, causing leaks and rot

Modern Hybrid Slate Roof Installation

Hybrids are a modern advancement in slate roof installation. This method uses a moisture membrane and self-adhering rubber mat that attaches to the sub-roof prior to installing the slate tiles. Homeowners report that hybrids show greater resistance to the elements, and at the same time use up to 40 percent less slate tiles to protect the roof.

Slate Roof Alternatives

Imitation slate roofs are cheaper to install, but can significantly alter the character or value of a historic home where a slate roof had been installed initially. If that's not your concern, you might consider asphalt shingles, concrete, clay tiles, or cement alternatives. However, if the cost of real slate concerns you, don't be surprised if alternative materials cost just as much--or more.

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Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material in North America mainly because they are economical and versatile, work well on steep-sloped roofs, are sunlight and weather resistant, require little-to-no maintenance and are reasonably priced. In addition, asphalt shingles are also easy to cut, fasten, and fit, as well as being compatible with many different kinds of flashing and edging products.

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