7 Facts That Will Change Your Views About Slate

by Diane Barnes

Throughout our lives, we run into slate a lot. Many roofs are made from slate. Slate comes in a wide variety of different colors and patterns and can turn a roof into a piece of artwork. Here are eight things you probably didn't know about slate that will change your viewpoint on slate:

  1. Slate is a type of rock that is created when clay sediments, known as shale, are compressed and subjected to heat. Over time, this clay sediment turns into mica minerals and starts to harden. From there, it turns into mudstone and continues to get harder and more compact. Finally, it hardens enough and becomes slate. This is why slate is so strong and is such a great material for roofs.
  2. It takes about 500 million years for slate to form. That means that there is a limited amount of slate in the world, and we cannot just produce more if the demand for slate increases.
  3. No two pieces of slate are exactly the same. Each piece of slate is unique because slate is a natural element.  
  4. It takes a skilled crafter to handle slate. If you want to handle slate, you have to go through a special training process or an apprenticeship. Skilled craft people split and cut the slate. They base their measurements on the intended use of that piece of slate. Each piece of slate is categorized according to its grade and is inspected before it is packaged.
  5. Every batch of slate is labeled with very specific information. Each batch of slate includes information about where it was mined, what type of slate it is, any unique characteristics as well as all the colors that were observed in that batch of slate. 
  6. Slate roofing tiles are fireproof and waterproof. Due to these qualities, with proper care, slate roofs can last for at least a hundred years. Some have been known to last for centuries. Often, it is the nails and fasteners that need to be replaced on slate roofs, because they have worn out, not the slate!
  7. Slate from each area of the United States is a distinct color. 
  • Pennsylvania, Maryland and Maine produce black slate.
  • Pennsylvania and Virginia produce blue gray slate.
  • New York and Vermont produce purple, gray and green slate.
  • New York produces red slate.

The next time you see a slate roof, floor or other item made from slate, take a second to appreciate what you are really seeing. Each piece of slate takes millions of years to form, and requires the care of expert crafters to turn it into useable materials. Remember that every piece of slate you see, even those on rooftops, has a story to tell. Contact a roofing company, like Homestead Roofing Co, for more information.