Slate Roofs

This is not a post about what kind of roofs you should or should not have. It is a post about what I learned over the years about slate roofs. Always consult your architect about what kind of roof is appropriate for your structures and what the pros and cons are regarding the various types of roofs.

Slate roofs are beautiful. They stand out in a community full of flat, asphalt, and metal roofs. But they come with a pretty steep price: they are far more expensive to purchase initially, to install, and to maintain than other roofs. Slate pieces will turn lose and slide off the roof shattering on the ground below or causing serious harm to anyone unfortunate enough to be under a falling piece. Many roofing companies don’t work on slate roofs and the ones that do require special equipment since slate roofs can be very slippery when wet.

On the plus side, slate roofs last forever. Well, almost – they have a lifespan of about 100 years which is four to five times longer than asphalt roofs. They really enhance the appearance of a building, and snow melts off them quickly. Also, when they leak, it is often because of a missing piece which makes it easy to find the source of the problem. In general, they have fewer maintenance issues throughout their lifespan.

If you do have a slate roof now, look at the individual pieces. If you see a U-shaped discoloration on the pieces, that is the beginning of deterioration of the tile. It’s impossible to say how much longer that piece will “live” before it breaks off. What you can plan for is to replace your roof if it is over 80 years old – begin NOW to set aside funds each year to replace the roof as it nears the 100 year mark. Creating and funding the “Roof Replacement Fund” today will help the church manage a large financial expense in a few years.

In summary: slate roofs are great for looks and pretty easy on the maintenance budget, but they are expensive to install/replace and finding a company to do the maintenance can be problematic. If you are planning new construction, talk with your architect about what is best for you congregation. Then talk with the church to see if they are willing today to pay for the extra expense realizing it may save on maintenance expenses over the life of the roof.

Lead On!