Slate is a roofing material with an extremely long lifespan, which makes it an ideal roofing option for homeowners who are looking to upgrade from more typical roofing systems. But is it right for your home?
If slate is being installed on an existing roof framing, the first consideration is the pitch, which should be no less than 4/12 (4 inches of rise for every foot of run). This rules out low-slope roofs as slate would not be as efficient in shedding rainwater and would be more prone to water intrusion. This means your roof framing will have to be rebuilt if it happens to be pitched lower than 4/12.
Another important consideration is weight. Slate, in particular, is at least three times the weight of asphalt shingles and will thus require a stronger structure. An existing roof framing will need to be reinforced (or rebuilt) if it’s expected to support the additional weight.
Plywood, particle board or any other laminated wood will work as decking for most types of roofing systems. Slate roofs, on the other hand, require decking that won’t delaminate during its lifespan. Keeping in mind that slate roofs last for about 100 years, a roof deck made of natural wood timber is the logical choice. This extended lifespan should also be considered with other components, such as underlayment and leak barriers. A capable roofer will help you choose which materials are appropriate.
Flashing is typically made of galvanized steel and is enough for most types of sloped roofing systems. Given the longer lifespan of slate roofs, you need flashing made of a material like copper or stainless steel. While slate has the advantage of being locally repairable – individual slate tiles can be removed without affecting bothering adjacent pieces – investing in copper or stainless steel flashing will cost less compared to having flashing replaced periodically.
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