Authored by Trent Cotney of Cotney Law

When considering roofing materials, you may immediately think of asphalt shingles, followed closely by tile or metal. After all, those are the materials we use most often. But slate is an attractive, environmentally friendly alternative that deserves consideration and attention. The versatile material can also be incorporated into flooring and landscaping.

What Exactly Is Slate?

Slate is a natural product made from fine-grained metamorphic rock resulting from volcanic ash and sedimentary deposits. This material has been a mainstay in construction for centuries.

What Makes It Special?

For years, slate has been a popular material because it is highly durable and resistant to both water and fire. Those properties alone explain its high demand. However, there is even more to appreciate:

  • Long-lasting: Slate can be more expensive than other materials, but it endures much longer. Based on most estimates, ASTM S-1 Grade slate has a minimum 75-year life expectancy and many slate roofs will perform well in excess of 100 years and up to 150 years. A slate roof can withstand wind, rain, frost, and heat, as well as everyday wear and tear. If you calculate replacing an asphalt roof several times, a slate roof can actually be less expensive over the long term.
  • Environmentally friendly: Compared to other roofing materials, manufacturing slate has a substantially lower environmental impact. The production process involves handcrafting at the quarry, so there is little manufacturing and no chemical emissions. When you look at embodied energy—the combination of energy used for manufacturing, transportation, and waste—slate has the lowest of roofing materials. In addition, it has the lowest overall carbon footprint. Its durability means slate will not be replaced often, which increases its sustainability. And when it does reach its end, the material will not contaminate a landfill.
  • Readily available: Slate quarries are located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, as well as in Canada, so the material can be transported by truck. It is also quarried in Brazil, China, and Spain, which requires overseas shipment.
  • Visually appealing: This natural material can be distinctive and stunning. Especially when complemented by other natural elements and surroundings, it provides an aesthetic that few other products can match.

Is Slate the Right Material for Your Next Project?

There are many reasons to consider slate. Slate roofs generally outlasts other roofing systems and have a storied history of long-lasting results. Slate is also the best ecological choice. This natural material is sustainable, which may be an essential factor for your business and your customers. In addition, slate is available in a variety of shades, such as green, gray, red, purple, brown, and black, offering an elegant appearance for any roof.

Before you instinctively choose a standard material for your next project, consider the craftsmanship and high-end appearance of slate.

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National Slate Association’s Mobile Field Guide is available free of charge via an internet browser on your smart-phone* or tablet when an internet connection is available.Or you may also scan the QR code here with your QR reader.

Click here to download the Mobile Field Guide press release.

*The NSA Mobile Field Guide is best viewed on iPhones, iPads and the newer Android phones. Windows® smart phones are not supported at this time. The mobile site is not intended or formatted for desktop computers or laptops.