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Slate Roofing Materials; best alternatives, cost, types, pros & cons

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Slate Roofing Materials; best alternatives, cost, types, pros & cons

Slate roofing materials are fine-grained rocks which are composed of clay or volcanic stones. They can be turned into smooth, flat sheets of slates and can be installed as types of roof shingles.

Slate roofing materials have low water absorption features which is less than 0.5%. This important factor has made this material resistant to water and frost. Natural roof slate is fire resistant and energy efficient.

Although buying slate roofing materials will add beauty and curb appeal to your building, before choosing them, you need to pay attention to their price, advantages and disadvantages and even better alternatives. Fortunately we are here to break them down for you.

slate roofing materials


What is Slate roofing materials?

Slate roofing comes with different materials, the main type is made of natural rock – mined and cut into a form of shingle.

If they are made of natural rock then this is the mineral composition of slate that will determine the color, strength and other features.

Although roof slates are not tiles but they are sometimes mistakenly used with this name – as tiles are referred to clay and concrete roofing.


Are Slate roofing materials easy to install?

No, it does not come with an easy or quick installation. Slate roofing materials are heavy and this makes them more difficult to work with. So this is a professional installer’s job and not a DIY project. Slate tiles are installed one at a time and this makes the installation process even slower.


What are the different types of slate roofing?

There are at least 5 different types of slate roofing materials:

Natural Slate

Natural Slate


Fine-grained natural stones that are composed of small chlorite and quartz particles are cut into natural slates. Natural slate roofing materials come in variety of colors and are more resistant to fire – moisture and pest.

The beauty and lifespan of +50 years in natural slate roofs have made them a popular choice for home owners. But big disadvantages of natural slate roof are their heaviness and high installation costs.



Fiber Cement Slate

This type is a cheaper and lighter version of slates and is made of cement, sand and cellulose fibers. Fiber cement ingredients were marketed without asbestos after 1980. Now they are safe and exist in many colors and shapes.

This kinds of slate roofing materials have some drawbacks too: The chances of slate roof breakage are now higher. Fiber cement slates are also less resistant to wind and storms. Fine-grained natural stones that are composed of small chlorite and quartz particles are cut into natural slates.


Synthetic Slate

Synthetic Slate

Composite slates are lightweight and recyclable plastics. Synthetic slate roof materials look like natural slates but come with easier installation and lower cost. They resist well in extreme weather. You can walk on them without worrying about breaking or cracking.  Synthetic composite slates are also more resistant to UV rays, impact and temperature changes.


Read more: best roof materials


Metal Slate

Although it is one of slate roofing materials, most of its features are similar to metal roofs. Such as temperature changes – which is the result of cooling at night and heat during the day. Hence, the roof will contract and expand and this reduces the life expectancy of the metal slates.

Other disadvantages of metal roofs is that: they are prone to dent, rust and corrosion. Metal slates can make excessive noise in heavy rains. But they come with some advantages too: they are flexible and ecofriendly. They resist fire and mold. They have an easier and faster installation, too.


Bituminous Slate

Bituminous Slate

These types of slate roof materials are made of asphalt. They go to asphalt shingles category as they look like each other. But the difference is in the appearance and the materials.

While asphalt shingles give a harsh or rough feeling, bituminous roof material has a smooth surface and seem more like natural slates. The soft quality of bituminous slates cannot be always a positive point – as in high temperature of the day and cold at night they soften or become brittle.

The bituminous slate roofing materials have protective granules on the surface which are sensitive to UV rays and can get damaged in hot days. Over time this leads to breaking down of the asphalt.


Advantages & Disadvantages of Slate Roofing Materials

Advantages & Disadvantages of Slate Roofing Materials

Although slates with traditional designs or geometric shapes, make durable roofs; but if you plan to invest in them, you should not ignore their downsides. Here is the list of pros and cons of slate roofing that may help.



Pros of Slate roofs

  • Fire resistant materials in slate roofing
  • Beautiful & unique appearance
  • Longevity – on average 50 years
  • Eco-friendly


Cons of Slate roofs

  • Slate cost much more than other roofing materials & Expensive to repair
  • higher price of installation
  • harder to install
  • heavy



Cost of slate roofing installation & replacement

Cost of slate roofing installation & replacement

The price range of slate roofing depends on materials or slate types – size and complexity of your roof or design – Labor or installation.

But generally speaking, in sate roofing almost 40% of the cost goes to purchasing the materials and 60% to labor.

The installation process for almost all types of slate roofing materials – on average – is somewhere near $10 to $30 per square foot. (Installation Cost in 2023).



What is the best alternative for slate roofing materials?

Those of you who have already had the experience of installing slate roofs are well aware of the high costs and problems of installing this type of roofing. But if you plan to replace your roof or buy a new one for the first time; will you choose slates or will you think about other roofing materials, as well?

Here is the most important advantages of UPVC roof sheets. If this is the first time you hear about it we suggest that you take a look at the amazing pros and huge benefits it brings to your life.



Comparison between Slate roofing materials & UPVC roof sheets


In spite of durability, slate roofing materials are brittle and may crack in some situations. So they may need early maintenance and the process of repair or replacement has a higher cost. Besides that, walking on the roof to fix or install them, increase the chances of cracking and finding the same match for slate roofing materials will not be easy. In hot and sunny days the slates will be hot too. So they may transfer the heat to the roof and around the building.




UPVC – Unplasticized vinyl chloride – on the other hand cannot crack or shatter as the material is not too hard or too soft. But it is anti-impact and shockproof roof which can withstand heavy loads without breaking or getting damaged. UPVC materials are low maintenance roof. The cost of installation is definitely lower than slate roofing. UPVC roof panels are coated with poly urethane protective layer that is an excellent barrier to UV rays. It is also a cooling roof that reflects much of the heat and solar radiations. Hence it is a perfect shelter for carports, awnings, etc.








Sepidfam Varna – supplier of UPVC roof tiles with best quality

Sepidfam Varna

UPVC roofing sheets – Sepidfam Varna


Anti-corrosion roof in cold areas – cooling roof in hot and tropical areas – beautiful and durable are only some of the features of UPVC panels in Sepidfam Varna Companies. We manufacture our products in Iran and send them to all around the world with easy delivery and fair price.

For more information on our price and to get a free consultation, please contact us:


+98912 0465 839



What are the main disadvantages of slate roofing ?

Price of slate roofing & Weight – Slates are expensive materials – compared to other roofs. Installing slates cost about twice of asphalt shingles. Another drawback of natural slate roofs is that they are heavy tiles – almost like clay roof tiles.


What is the life expectancy of slate roofing materials?

Hard slate roofs can have a life expectancy up to 100 years.


What is a better roofing material to slate?

If you want to avoid early repairs, and choose a roof with low cost of materials – installation and maintenance – lightweight and easy to transport, and have high durability; UPVC panels are one of the best choices for your roof.