A Short History of Slate Roofs

When you have a mortgage on an older property it may indeed have a beautiful slate roof. This is something that really can add value to the home. Here we take a look at the history of slate roofs.

Slate roofs have been around for over 700 years. Used on castles, it originally was a product reserved for such buildings because of its expense. Today, slate is still used on roofs. It is one of the longest lasting materials so anyone buying a century-old home with this material for the roof can expect to get plenty more use out of it.

Slate roofing Sydney
Image courtesy of Slate Roofing Sydney

Evidence of slate roofing is shown in records of homes in England and Wales in the 1300s. This material came as shale sediment. It was also composed of clay and volcanic ash depending on where it was sourced. By the very early 1800s, the rock was quarried in Spain. The process used was efficient and roofing made of slate become common in regular homes, not just castles or those meant for the wealthy.

Slate took off as a roofing material in America in the 1600s. A quarry opened in the late 1700s. It quickly became available to ordinary citizens. The material did not begin being mass quarried in the United States until the 1800s. The biggest producer of slate tiles is Vermont.

Vermont was home to many immigrants who arrived there in the mid-1800s from Wales. This is one reason they immediately set about finding a way to source and produce slate. When the railroads arrived, the slate produced there was able to be shipped across the nation.

It was the most common material used for roofing in the country until the early 1900s. Homes built from this time period that exist today often still have the slate roofs intact. It is a long-wearing, durable, weather-resistant, fire-resistant material. Its average lifespan is about 100 years, making it one of the best materials for any roof. However, it is still very expensive.

When newer materials began appearing on the marking, including tiles and wood shake, they began to predominate. Slate felt out of favor as the first choice for many builders. This is because the other materials were easier in many cases to come by and they were cheaper.

When asphalt shingles came on the market they became the most common material used in home building. This left slate to fall away as a commonly used roofing material.

Today it has made a comeback due to many people wishing to refurbish older or historic homes. It is still the most expensive roofing material but it is durable and it offers a beauty that withstands the test of time.