Pros and Cons of Slate Roofs

slate roof

Slate roofs are highly regarded for their appearance and longevity but also come with challenges that are unique to this roofing material. Here are the advantages and benefits of this roofing material, followed by some of its challenges.


Curb appeal – A new slate roof can immediately enhance the curb appeal of a wide range of structural styles. Homeowners can select from a full palette of colors including blues, greens, grays, shades of black and multi-colored tiles. Slate tiles also come in a variety of sizes, allowing homeowners to further customize the appearance of their roofs.

Slate is long lasting – As a natural stone product, the expectations for the service life of slate roofs extends out to 150 years. Manufacturers tend to agree with these estimates, as evidenced by warranties on slate materials lasting up to 100 years. As a comparison, an asphalt roof could potentially be replaced 4 times over that time frame.

Slate is fire-proof – The natural stone composition of slate tiles makes them totally fire proof. This can make the difference between a house catching fire from blowing embers and withstanding fires that take place in close proximity to the structure.

Slate is environmentally friendly – Slate can be considered a “green” roofing material for 2 reasons; the first is that once it is installed, it will likely be in place for at least a century. During this time, 4 asphalt roofs may end up in landfills. The second reason is that when slate is pulled from a roof, it is commonly reused in other roofing applications.


Cost – Generally speaking, slate is the most expensive roofing material to install. Its longevity, however, makes it a cost-effective option versus asphalt and wood shingles.

Installation challenges – Of all roofing materials, slate is probably the most difficult to install properly. Still, there are roofing contractors that will take on slate roof jobs even if the complexity of the installation process is above their skill and experience levels. To ensure that slate will be installed correctly, homeowners should only work with roofing contractors that have been certified by the manufacturer of the tiles.

Weight – Slate is one of the heaviest roofing materials and may necessitate additional fortification of the structure to support the extra weight. The engineering, materials, labor and permitting involved in the fortification of the structure can increase the total cost of the installation by a substantial amount.

Weight bearing weakness – Like tile roofs, slate shingles can be broken by someone walking across the roof. To prevent expensive repairs, make sure that anyone going on the roof has the experience, knowledge and tools to work up there without breaking anything.