Roofing Slate Selection Guide

There are a wide variety of types of slate available to builders and home owners and our experienced tilers can advise on the right type of roofing slate for your project.

When selecting a slate type for your roof it is important to consider factors such as the pitch of the roof, the aesthetic that is required, and the durability of the product.

What are the Different Types of Slate Roofing?

Slate offers a beautiful natural finish to a roof but not all slate is equal. The three main types of slate available are:

  • Natural Slate: Sourced and taken from natural environments. This is usually the most expensive option but the quality of the finish is evident. Natural slate can be brought in from a range of countries and each has advantages and disadvantages.
  • Man-made Slate: Predominantly made from reconstituted slate this is a cheaper alternative to the natural version but still with a very natural look and feel.
  • Fibre Cement Slate: This is composed primarily of cement and other elements but is a versatile, cost-effective option.


What are the Benefits of Natural Slate?

As well as the striking natural aesthetics of slate, its durability has made it a popular building material for centuries. Often the aesthetics of natural slate are imperative to a project, particularly with renovations of older properties. Choosing natural slate for a roofing project is not usually the cheapest option but it is a high quality product which will wear well and require very little maintenance over the longer term. Slate roof tiles can only be installed onto pitched roofs with a minimum pitch of 25°.

Slate tiles can typically last up to 150 years or so, although roofing structures may need maintenance and repair. Natural slate tiles vary in cost from around £1 to £2 per slate depending on the source of the slate and at around 20 to 25 tiles per square metre this means the cost can vary anywhere from £20 to £50 a square metre.

When sourcing natural slate it is imporant to look at carbonate content as this reflects the quality of the slate tiles. Slate with a high carbonate content (over 20%) will often turn darker once exposed to the elements. In addition, be aware of European Standard BS EN 12326 which is used to regulate the quality of slate products.

Welsh, Spanish and Brazillian slates all have their own characteristics and colours and although these are all natural slate products, it is worth looking at samples of each to see which aesthetic fits your project.

What are the Benefits of Man-made Slate?

Man made slates are a low cost alternative to natural slate and are usually made from a combination of ground down slate and synthetic resin. They are often larger than natural slate which means fewer tiles are needed for the same area coverage, reducing labour costs. They are also considered more eco friendly as they are composed from 60% to 80% recycled slate and their lightweight nature reduces the need for reinforcement in the underlay.

Man-made slates are designed to last for up to 30 years in normal weather conditions which is similar to the life expectancy of concrete or clay tiles, although a significant difference from natural slate. They have an advantage over natural slates in that they can be laid on pitched roofs down to 15°, and because they are often designed to interlock they require less labour and skill to install, driving down cost. In terms of pricing they are comparable on a per slate basis to natural slate, but due to their larger size the cost per square metre is typically around £20-£35 which is cheaper than the natural alternatives.


What are the Benefits of Fibre Cement Slate?

Made from a mixture of cement, fibres and mineral additives, fibre cement slates are lighter in comparison to natural slate and can be used on both steeper and lower pitches and roofs that require a more complex design such as valleys or intersections. They will usually last between 30-60 years depending on the conditions they are exposed to and come in a huge variety of styles, shapes and finishes.

Fibre cement slates are extremely cost effective and usually cost between £1 and £3 per slate, working out at around £14 to £40 per square metre. As with man made slate they can be used on pitches as low as 15° if required and often come with predrilled holes for quick and easy installation.


For examples of recent slate projects or more information about the right slate product for your project, get in touch with us and we will be happy to advise or help to secure slate samples for you.