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Want to Boost the Lifespan of Your Slate Roof?

Want to Boost the Lifespan of Your Slate Roof?

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August 18, 2010

It's hard to drive by a house with a slate roof and not stop to admire it. Slate roofs have been around for hundreds of years, adding a rich, sophisticated look to many upscale houses, churches and commercial buildings.

Slate Roof Lifespan

One selling point of slate roofs is the lifespan--typically 100 years or more when installed properly. You might be surprised to find out that not all slate is alike, with some lasting only 60 years. As you interview contractors, here's what you should know about getting the most out of your slate roof. The lifespan is affected by:

  • It's place of origin--Some areas have slate with more impurities in the veins that can affect how it wears and absorbs moisture. If your contractor selects a slate from Pennsylvania, the material might last only 60 to 75 years versus Virginia slate which lasts for 175 years.
  • Density--Thicker slate will wear longer than thinner slate, even if it has some impurities.
  • Ribbons--Some slate has random stripes, called ribbons, across the pieces. This is caused by minerals in the sediment where the slate was formed and will shorten the lifespan to 75 to 90 years.
  • Roof pitch--Steeper pitches are better, as they allow for better drainage of water and snow.
  • Installation--Make sure the roof has proper flashing and support.

Your Slate Roof Investment

Slate is a beautiful material that can add a stunning look to any house. It is an investment, however, so talk to your contractor about where it was made, its density and whether there are characteristics that would shorten its lifespan.


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