Slate can be made into slate tiles for roofing also known as roofing shingles. Slate tiles are a specialist material and due to the nature and properties of slate, they must be installed by an experienced professional called a slater. The slate stone has two lines of breakability known as the cleavage and the grain. This allows a slater to manipulate the shape and size of the slate tiles when installing slate roofing.
Slate tiles are particularly good for roofing as they have a very low water absorption index of less than 0.4%. This makes slate tiles very resistant to freezing and breakages as a result of frost damage and cold. Slate tiles are also known for its longevity and environmentally friendly properties. Slate roofs installed properly have been known to last over 100 years and slate tiles are nearly 100% recyclable. Slate tiles are also extremely resistant to fire and heat and can be used without sarking (wooden panelling beneath the roof).
The most common methods for installing slate tiles on your roof are nail fixing or hook fixing.
Quite common in colonial buildings, nail fixing is typically done with double nails into timber batons. Although it is not necessary to use sarking, slate tiles can also be nailed directly onto timber sarking boards if used in the roof. Traditionally slate tiles are installed using copper nails, however recently modern alloy and stainless steel alternatives have been developed for nail fixing slate roofing installations.
Hook fixing means there are no holes in the slate tiles being installed in the roof. This method allows for the use of smaller slate tiles and so is more commonly used for the installation of valleys or domes. Hook fixing is also commonly used in areas with extreme weather conditions as there is greater resistance to wind uplift as the lower edge of the slate is secured in installation. The metal hooks used however are visible and so this method is not commonly used for historical buildings.
Slate is a natural product with over 300 million years of history. Slate tiles are a great option for residential and commercial roofing. From churches and civic buildings to colonial homes, slate tiles give a heritage styling that can only be achieved with a slate roof. As well as roofing, slate tiles are also commonly used for interior and exterior flooring, stairs, walkways and cladding.