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Why Don't More People Install Slate Roofs?

by Jon Nunan

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While there are many options out there for homeowners who need to replace a roof, slate roofing is the cream of the crop. Unlike asphalt shingles that are likely to last between 10 and 20 years, slate roofing tiles are built for longevity; slate roofs are often guaranteed to last for 40 or 50 years, but it is a known fact that many of these roofs that were installed over a century ago are still performing well today! Slate roofing is not for everyone and isn't the most appropriate material for every situation, but if you want a roofing material that you'll never need to replace, slate roofs are worth looking into.

If Slate Roofing Is So Great, Why Doesn't Everyone Have It?
Though there are many reasons to install slate roofing, there is one huge reason to opt for a different material: Cost. Slate roof installation is relatively rare for the same reasons that most people don't own a helicopter. Though that chopper might get you from point A to point B far faster than any car on the market, it will be more expensive to buy and more difficult to maintain due to the infrequency of good helicopter mechanics. Slate roofs can last a lifetime (and in some cases, several lifetimes), but it is extremely expensive to install and when a repair is needed, you'll have to pay more (and often search harder) to hire a contractor with enough experience to do the job right.

Asphalt shingles may not last as long, but you can probably afford to replace an asphalt roof 3 or 4 times without surpassing the budget of a single slate roof. Additionally, slate roofing tiles are brittle; while they can hold up for decades and decades under normal conditions, a fallen tree branch can spell huge repair costs. Even walking on a slate roof tiles may cause damage, which makes hiring a repair company with experience even more important, and often more costly.

If You Already Have a Slate Roof
If your home is already topped with slate, you are certainly better off repairing what you have than opting for a different material. Not only can your slate roof last indefinitely with the proper maintenance, it is likely to play a significant role in your property's resale value. Slate roofing is considered the best of the best, and keeping it in good condition rather than replacing it with a lesser material is akin to maintaining a classic Rolls Royce rather than replacing it with a brand new Chevy.

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Looking to Install a Slate Roof?
If you have the means and the desire, slate roofs are great investments. They are valuable additions that are attractive, fireproof, come with durability that is unmatched by any other roofing material. Installing slate roofing is a little easier for a house being built from the ground up, but it should be one of the first things you decide upon, as houses topped with slate must be designed to bear a fair amount of additional weight. Those looking to install a slate roof on an existing home should be aware that supplementing a structure's support system to handle the weight of slate is a job in itself that will carry its own price in addition to the cost of installation.

Metal as an Alternative to Slate Roofing
Of course, asphalt shingles and slate are not the only roofing options on the market! Ceramic tile, wood, and metal are all popular choices, but when it comes to getting the most bang from your roofing buck, metal is tough to beat. Though it used to be that metal roofs were noisy, poorly insulated, rusty things, today's metal roofing products are just about the perfect combination of quality and affordability. Far more expensive than asphalt, but far less expensive than slate, metal roofs are often guaranteed for up to 40 years. Though they don't carry the same weight as slate (in status or in pounds), metal roofs do provide excellent performance that is within the reach of far more home improvement budgets!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.