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HomeFactsHow Long Should A Slate Roof Last

How Long Should A Slate Roof Last

Life Expectancy Of Ribbon Slates

Will A Copper Roof Last As Long As A Slate Roof?

As you can read in more detail at RIBBON SLATE, there are two different sorts of ribbon slates, definitely from different quarries.

Some ribbon slates whose ribbons or lines of color through the slate demonstrate color lines comprised of soft minerals, sometimes even with small voids, often of a red or rust-brown color. In our experience, in the Northeastern U.S. where these slates were found, often these were a low-priced and short-lived roofing slate.

But other ribbon slates, also found in the Northeastern U.S. as well as in other areas, prove to be as durable as other high quality roofing slates, with lifetimes from 20 to 80 years, perhaps even longer.

Above, the ribbon-slate roof in Poughkeepsie, New York was about eighty years old when we took the photo in the 1980s.

It remains in good condition and was still on the home in 2018.

On a different home in the same city, the mansard style slate roof shown below right employs a mix of ribbon slates, some of which were quite worn and appeared to be at the end of their life.

Slate Roof Wear Slate Rot Slate Roof Lifedurability Of Slate Roofs

  • about slate rot, soft, mushy roofing slate, slate that is “shot” even if slate doesn’t really “rot”

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Signs of slate roof wear & deterioration from close-up inspection allows one to assess remaining roof life: the abandonment of good slate roofs which should have been repaired is a financial shame and the destruction of a valued asset.

At the same time, careless optimism about a bad slate roof which is at the end of its life risks an angry inspection client.

This article describes various indicators of wear and aging found on slate roofs as an aid to assessing the overall roof condition, its risk of extensive leak points, and its probable remaining life.

We also provide an ARTICLE INDEX for this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

How Many Years Does A Slate Roof Last

When youre getting a new roof, you have a few options. Its best to weigh those options to ensure you get the right type of roof for your needs. Longevity is an important factor in this decision. One kind of roof you might choose is a slate roof. Roofing Repairs Manchester, which does roofing in Manchester, has shared some information to help you learn how long a slate roof lasts and determine if its a good choice for your roof.

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How Long Does A Tile Roof Last

How long tile roofs last depends on many parameters. For example, a new tile roof with premium roofing materials will last longer. On the other hand, when you pick Concrete tile roofs, expect a 50-year service.

But thats if you let a qualified roofing company install the concrete tile roof. Compared to other roofing materials, concrete tiled roofs have shorter lifespans.

Airtight spray foam insulation helps in boosting the longevity of some tile roofs. But, again, to avoid broken tiles, dont go for a lightweight concrete tiled roof. Youd want to know how long a tile roof last. Well, well analyze the various tile roof types. And also the factors that affect their lifespans.

The Replacement Of Deteriorated Roofs Return To Top

Canadian Glendyne roofing slate

Historic slate roofs should be repaired rather than replaced whenever possible. Before replacing a slate roof, check for isolated damage, corroded and worn flashings, leaky gutters, poor ventilation in the attic, and other possible sources of moisture. All too often slate roofs are mistakenly replaced when, in fact, they could have been effectively repaired. Deciding whether an historic slate roof should be repaired or replaced can be difficult and each roof must be judged separately.

If repair is not possible and a new slate roof must be installed, it is important to remember that more than just the replacement of the slate is involved. The old slate should be removed to prevent overloading of the roof timbers. Stripping should be done in sections, with felt installed, to avoid exposing the entire subroof to the weather. ln the process, rotted wood sheathing should be replaced and the roof timbers checked for signs of stress including deflection, cracking, and twisting. If such conditions are found, a structural engineer experienced in working with older buildings should be consulted. Other repairs, such as chimney repointing, which may require access to the roof should be completed before the new roof is put on.

Prior to a replacing a roof, historical documentation is gathered to determine the roof configuration. Photo: NPS files.

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Choose Mccoy Roofing For Your Slate Roof Project

With proper installation and care, theres no reason a slate roof shouldnt last for 150 years. No other roofing material can come close. They also present very few roof repair issues and give your property a presence that cant be matched.

Not all roofing contractors have the skills and experience to make a success of your slate roof project, but you can trust the team at McCoy Roofing to do so. We have over ten years of expertise in all kinds of roofing projects.

Contact us at for a free roofing inspection today and see how we can make your roof goals a reality.

A Slate Roof Can Last Up To 200 Years With Proper Maintenance Repair/replacement Guideline

A slate roof can last up to 75 to 200 years, with proper maintenance. Every 20-25 years the slate will need to be replaced or repaired depending on its condition and weather exposure.

The following suggestion is aimed at assisting in the decision-making process for repair or replacement:

  • Consider the age and condition of the roof concerning its anticipated serviceable life, based on the type of slate used.
  • Is there a significant number of damaged and missing slates? Is the proportion less than 20%? Is the roof in generally excellent condition?
  • If so, rather than replacing the roof, it should be looked at for repair. Its best to consult a professional for advice on how to clean your roof. Keep in mind that the amount of upkeep required for a roof will increase with time.
  • Check for active leaks and the source of any detected ones. Do not jump to the conclusion that the slates are leaking.
  • Gutters, valleys, and flashings are more likely culprits than your assumption. Moisture condensation in the attic as a result of poor ventilation can cause false leaks.
  • Examine the roof rafters and sheathing for damp discoloration. Poke an awl into the wood to see if it is rotting.
  • Keep in mind that extremely old, delaminating slates will retain moisture and cause adjacent wood members to decay even if there are no apparent leaks.

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Damage From Overhanging Trees

Overhanging trees present a couple of major problems for slate roofs. For one, they provide consistent areas of shade that prevent the roof from drying out properly and allowing the growth of moss and mould. The other problem is the danger caused by falling debris like broken branches, which can damage or break the slate and cause the slates to slip and come loose from their fixings.

Slate Roofing Costs: The Complete 2022 Uk Pricing Guide

Slate Roof Types, Cost and Lifespan

A slate roof is a worthwhile investment, especially if you are going to live in your home for many years to come. Apart from its attractive appearance, a slate roof is long-lasting and durable.

In this guide, we give you the approximate costs of laying a new slate roof. We also tell you about repairs and roof renovation. You can learn what goes into laying a slate roof and the types of slate you can choose from.

Youll also find out how to find a slate roofing installer and the question to ask when you talk about a quote. We compare slate to other roofing materials and answer some common frequently asked questions.


  • How Do I Maintain a Slate Roof?
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    What Problems Can Occur With Slate Roofing

    One of the biggest problems with slate roofing occurs if its installed improperly. Slate shingles are heavy. Proper support needs to be added to the roof to prevent damage. Without the right support, damage can be done to your roof.

    When youre hiring a roofer for slate roofing, make sure they know what theyre doing. As long as the support is correctly done, you shouldnt have any problems with slate roofing.

    Who Installed The Shingles

    Slate shingles require an advanced degree of skill to apply properly on a residential rooftop. Poorly applied shingles will lead to problems that will compromise the integrity and longevity of the slate. Therefore, slate shingles should only be installed by a licensed roofing company with years of experience.

    With slate shingles, the slightest imperfection could cause a shingle to fall off. The exposed area would then be vulnerable to leaks. Due to the price of slate and the complicated nature of the installation process, a missing slate shingle is more difficult to replace than a wood or asphalt shingle. A slate shingle, after all, is not as easy to replicate as a cedar shingle.

    Despite the high stakes involved in the installation process, a lot of less-than-qualified roofing companies apply slate shingles on residential properties. In worst-case scenarios, the installer might crack a shingle or two while walking over the roof. Therein lies one of the weaknesses of slate its vulnerability to motion pressure. When someone walks on a slate roof without care, slate shingles can crack.

    Other problems with a poorly installed slate roof may involve an inconsistent layout. If gaps exist anywhere between the shingles, water can seep under the slate and form saturation points on the underlying wood. Therefore, only the most skilled and qualified of installers should work on slate shingle projects.

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    Picking The Right Materials

    Slate is available in a variety of colors. The most common are grey, blue-grey, black, various shades of green, deep purple, brick red, and mottled varieties. Slate varieties are classified as either fading or unfading and they mean exactly what you think. The fading varieties will change color much like wood weathers to a soft grey. These slates should be expected to change color with exposure though it is not a sign of deteriorating. If you are looking to match an existing roof its important to get a variety of samples from manufacturers and understand if they are fading or unfading so the match will last more than a few months.

    Historically, slate was 3/16 thick and modern slate is sometimes 1/4 to 3/8 thick so double check the thickness of slate on your house before buying replacement slate. Widths and lengths ran the gamut and you will find dozens of different sizes of slate as well as unique shapes other than rectangles. If youre not tied to matching an original type of slate then you have a lot of options to choose from. Not all slate is created equal and some varieties will last longer than others so keep that in mind as you shop.

    Time has shown that the Vermont and New York slates will last about 125 years Buckingham Virginia slates 175 years or more and Pennsylvania SoftVein slates just north of 60 years. Those are sizable differences and definitely something to consider with new or replacement slate roofs.

    How Much Will It Cost To Replace My Slate Shingles

    Your roof may take a beating over the course of their service life. As ...

    If you move into a home with slate roofing, you probably won’t have to replace the roof during the years you own the property. After all, slate shingles can last up to 200 years. Unless the house pre-dates the construction of the Statue of Liberty, chances are you won’t be the lucky homeowner to preside over the property when the shingles finally do expire. That said, you might need to get the roof maintained if damage occurs in select areas.

    Two main types of problems can arise when maintaining slate roofs broken tiles and faulty flashing. Select tile replacements can sometimes rectify the first problem. If the roofing consists of hard slate, it is probably salvageable as long as you get the broken tiles replaced as soon as possible.

    The most significant mistake some homeowners make in this situation is to ignore the problem until more tiles break, by which point rainwater can make its way under the slate and penetrate the roofing foundation. Once the problem has advanced to that level, the only option is a total roof replacement. Likewise, a problem with faulty flashing will generally require a a new slate roof installation or full roof restoration.

    When roofing comprised of soft slate begins to crack, it is better to get new roofing. Soft slate is more liable to crack, and the cause of one crack could easily spread to other parts of the roof. If new roofing is required, consider upgrading to shingles made of hard slate.

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    Which Flat Roof System Is Best

    All flat roofing materials have their own unique properties and potential advantages. EPDM rubber roofing is the preferred choice for many homes and businesses, while others prefer the lightweight properties of fibreglass for flat roofing systems. At the top end of the scale, a premium flat roofing system has the potential to last up to 50 years â almost entirely maintenance free.

    How Long Do Slate Roof Tiles Last

    How long do slate roof tiles last? Check out this guide for everything you need to know about the life expectancy of slate roof tiles.

    Are you looking to crown your house with the very finest of roof materials? Do you want a roof that will not only look fantastic but withstand everything the elements can throw at it?

    If you do, then its time to think about investing in a slate roof. A slate roof is the gold standard of roofing! And theyre not just for historic homes, they suit any type of architecture.

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    Example Of Very Soft Roofing Slates Past End Of Life

    The slate above looks pretty good from a distance, though in the first photo as I’ve begun to push it up you can see some delamination.

    In my second “rotted slate” photo below, I’m demonstrating that my weak puny thumb and forefinger are engough to smush this red slate into mud.

    My third end-of-life slate photo shows the result: the slate is a handful of fragile chips and slivers.

    This red slate, probably from the Granville NY quarry, was also wet through to the touch. A few of these slates were on the ground along a barn on the FDR estate, the rest were still on the roof.

    We strongly advise inspectors not to walk on slate roofs. Risks include falling – very slippery, and extensive damage to the slates.

    Repairing Slate Roofs Return To Top

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    Broken, cracked, and missing slates should be repaired promptly by an experienced slater in order to prevent water damage to interior finishes, accelerated deterioration of the roof and roof sheathing, and possible structural degradation to framing members.

    The damaged slate is first removed by cutting or pulling out its nails with a ripper. If steel cut nails, rather than copper nails, were used in laying the roof, adjacent slates may be inadvertently damaged or displaced in the ripping process, and these, too, will have to be repaired. If the slate does not slide out by itself, the pointed end of the ,slate hammer can be punched into the slate and the slate dragged out. A new slate, or salvaged slate, which should match the size, shape, texture, and weathered color of the old slate, is then slid into place and held in position by one nail inserted through the vertical joint between the slates in the course above and approximately one inch below the tail of the slate two courses above.

    After removing the deteriorated slate and sliding the new slate into place, it is secured with a copper nail. A copper bib is formed to protect the newly created nail hole. Finally, a slate hammer is used to push the bib in place over the nail head. Photo: Jeffrey S. Levine.

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    Where Does Slate Come From Return To Top

    Slate is a fine grained, crystalline rock derived from sediments of clay and fine silt which were deposited on ancient sea bottoms. Superimposed materials gradually consolidated the sedimentary particles into bedded deposits of shale. Mountain building forces subsequently folded, crumpled, and compressed the shale. At the same time, intense heat and pressure changed the original clays into new minerals such as mica, chlorite, and quartz. By such mechanical and chemical processes bedded clays were transformed, or metamorphosed, into slate, whole geologic ages being consumed in the process. Slates vary in composition, structure, and durability because the degree to which their determinant minerals have been altered is neither uniform nor consistent.

    These traditional slaters tools are used to cut and trim, hammer, measure, and rip out nails. Photo: Jeffrey S. Levine.

    The adaptation of slate for roofing purposes is inextricably linked to its genesis. The manufacturing processes of nature have endowed slate with certain commercially amenable properties which have had a profound influence on the methods by which slate is quarried and fabricated, as well as its suitability for use as a roofing tile.


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