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How Long Does a Slate Roof Last?

January 31st, 2024 | 6 min. read

How Long Does a Slate Roof Last?

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How long a roof lasts is a huge factor that homeowners consider when choosing a roofing material. And not many roofs last longer than a slate roof. 

A slate roof is not only one of the best looking roofing materials but also one of the longest-lasting. So, how long will a slate roof actually last? 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been dedicated to helping homeowners make the right decisions on their own. Because lifespan is a big decision-making factor, I’ll break down how long a slate roof lasts and much more. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • How long does a slate roof last? (and what impacts the lifespan)
  • What are the other pros and cons of a slate roof?

How long does a slate roof last?

A slate roof will last 75 years to 100 as long as it’s properly installed and flashed properly. It could even push past the 100-year mark in the right conditions and with routine maintenance. 

Once installed, it’ll be the last roof you ever put on your home. A funny thing we like to say is that your grandkids won’t even have to worry about it. 

However, there are factors that determine how long a slate roof ultimately lasts. Below are the three main factors that directly impact the lifespan of a slate roof. 

The quality of your slate roof installation

Hiring a roofing contractor with slate roofing installation experience is the most important factor that impacts how long a slate roof lasts. It takes a really skilled roofer or someone who’s been properly trained to install the slate tiles correctly. 

Also, each individual tile has to be carefully handled because they’re incredibly fragile. If the installers don’t know how to do this, the slate tiles will break, which leads to problems and a slate roof life’s being cut short.

Foot traffic on your slate roof

Just like slate tiles needing to be handled carefully when installing them, the same goes for after installation. It can shorten a slate roof’s lifespan and lead to a leak if someone breaks tiles when walking on them.

Trust me, it will not be easy (or cheap) to replace them. That’s why no one should be walking on a slate roof unless they know how to maneuver around without breaking one of the tiles, period. 

Maintaining your slate roof

Every roofing material needs maintenance, and slate is no different. Routine maintenance inspections are actually the best way to maximize your slate roof’s lifespan. 

This gives your roofer a chance to check vulnerable areas, provide preventative measures on potential leaks, fix broken/damaged tiles, and keep your slate roof running smoothly. That’s why I always recommend maintaining a roof at least once a year. 

What are the other pros and cons of a slate roof?

The lifespan is the biggest pro of a slate roof, which is tempting to homeowners who want a forever roof. However, you need to consider other pros and cons to determine if slate roofing is right for you. 

Pros of slate roofing

Let’s start with the good of a slate roof. As I said, its lifespan is the biggest pro, but so is a slate roof’s storm damage durability and curb appeal. 

Storm damage durability

A slate roof is one of the most durable roofing materials on the market, which means it stands up well to storm damage. While a strong hail storm can damage slate tiles, they aren’t as vulnerable as asphalt shingles.

However, a tree falling on a slate roof can break and cause damage. Luckily, homeowners insurance should cover any damage to a slate roof as it was caused by extreme weather.

Curb appeal

Besides the long lifespan, homeowners are most interested in a slate roof because of its curb appeal. It’s one of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing materials on the market.

There’s a reason manufacturers make asphalt shingles and synthetic shingles to mimic a slate roof. Just know that the color and size of the slate tiles have a big impact on the look, so keep that in mind when determining how a slate roof will look on your home. 

Cons of slate roofing

Now, we’re ready to get to the cons of slate roofing. While the pros of slate roofing are reasons why homeowners want this roof system, the cons are the disqualifiers. 

Slate roofing is heavy

Slate tiles may be fragile, but they are also incredibly heavy. Because of this, a house has to be built or framed to hold the weight of a slate roof to ensure the walls don’t fall out and prevent the roof from caving in.

If your home can’t handle a slate roof, you’ll have to retrofit it to hold the weight. This must be approved by a structural engineer and completed before the roofer can begin installing. 

There’s no material warranty on a slate roof

Most roofing materials come with some type of warranty on the materials to protect against defects. However, slate tiles are a naturally mined and made roofing material. 

Unfortunately, this means there’s no material warranty on the slate tiles or the roof after installation. If there ever is a problem with your slate roof, you’ll only be able to rely on your roofing contractor’s workmanship warranty

Slate roofing is expensive

The biggest con of slate roofing is that it’s incredibly expensive. For labor and materials, a slate roof costs around $15.00 per square foot to start, with the potential to get up to around $30.00 or more per square foot.

You can expect to pay at least four times more for a slate roof than an asphalt roof, which makes slate one of the most expensive roofs on the market. While the slate itself is costly, the main reason a slate roof is this expensive is the time, labor, and skill it takes to install it. 

Slate tiles are installed one at a time, which makes replacing your old roof with a new slate roof a very slow process. And if you have to retrofit or reframe your home to handle the weight, it really adds to the cost. 

How does a slate roof compare to a synthetic slate roof?

Now, you know how long a slate roof lasts, plus the pros and cons of slate roofing in general. If you’re like most homeowners, you probably saw the cost number and immediately disqualified yourself. 

But you’re not out of luck if you still want the slate look on your home. Remember, manufacturers make materials that mimic slate roofing, and synthetic shingles are at the forefront. 

Homeowners over the last few years have started turning to synthetic slate as a cheaper alternative to natural slate. So, to truly find the best “slate” roofing material, you need to know how synthetic shingles compare to the real thing. 

Check out Slate Roof vs. Synthetic Slate Roof (The 4 Main Comparisons) to learn if a synthetic slate shingle roof is right for you.

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