Slate Roof Basics: How It Works and What to Expect from It

Posted by Brett McCutcheon on Jan 4, 2020 8:30:00 AM

Slate Roof Basics

Of all materials currently available on the market, slate roofing is one of the longest-lasting and most durable, with an expected lifespan of up to 150 years. This makes it a sizable investment for homeowners, who can expect a healthy ROI long after the initial purchase.

As such, when adding a slate roof to a home, you need to think long-term – at least 75 years or more. Chances are all the materials you implement into the roofing will wear out before the slate roof does. So, choose roofing materials that can withstand the elements and support the slate roof for several decades with few maintenance requirements.

Choosing the Right Slate Roofing

Whether you are building a new home or replacing your old roof, there are several items you need to consider before installing a slate roof including:


When it comes to slate roofing, the perception is that thicker is better. It is true that thicker slate roofing lasts longer. However, contractors often discover that thicker slates are more difficult to implement and can easily break during installation. Therefore, extra care and skill are required to lay out a slate roofing system.


Slate is mined from all over the world. As a result, it contains different core elements, which produce various shades. Roofing that contains a high concentration of iron or other elements is likely to bleed out when it rains or snows. Consequently, it will streak down your roof or the side of your house.


When choosing slate roofing size, you need to strike a balance between design, adequate roof coverage, and labor intensity. Smaller tiles can be incredibly attractive and last longer but are more labor-intensive. Larger tiles require less material and labor but do not necessarily provide better coverage. Furthermore, they do not last as long as smaller tiles.


Quality slate roofing requires a high level of craftsmanship and design. Furthermore, it’s an investment into the overall value of the property. If you’re going to choose slate roofing, then invest in products from reputable manufacturers. Sure, the cost is higher. However, a homeowner will spend less on repairs and replacement down the road.

Useful Tips for Installing Slate Roofing

If you are new to slate roofing, you can eliminate novice mistakes by following these tips:

  • Create a proper seal with the tile and the underlayment.
  • Proper overlap with the headlap and sidelap is essential.
  • Mix different pallets of slate tile to avoid color patches in the roof.
  • Outline your course on the roof to ensure stability and uniformity.
  • Avoid walking on the slates, as this may crack or break them.
  • Choose the right tools that help you perform your job efficiently with precision.

Remember: You need to assess how the roof will perform 50 to 100 years from now. Therefore, focus on creating a proper seal with the tile, while adding proper underlayment as support and protection. In addition, make sure the overlap is properly spaced. Insufficient overlap will compromise the seal. Too much overlap will cause the fasteners to erode.

BECK Slate Roofing Tools and Hardware

BECK slate roofing solutions make it possible to complete every job with accuracy and efficiency. You can maintain consistent depth and spacing while meeting industry standards for performance and safety. BECK fasteners contain precision diamond points and hook ends that prevent wear on the slates, making them more resistant to the harsh outside elements.

To find out more about the BECK Group's slate roofing tools and hardware, contact us at 1-800-239-8665 or request product information on our contact page. You can also download our free Slate Roof eGuide.

Download the Slate Roof eGuide: Proper Techniques for Installation

Topics: Roofing, Slate Roofing


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