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The Home Depot

Slate Roofing Basics

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Roofing > Slate Roofing Basics
Slate Roofing Basics

While your roof is high above you and easy to forget about, it’s extremely important to maintain it carefully. A slate roof should last for years without difficult or time-consuming maintenance on your part. Slate roofs also add a rustic and old-fashioned charm to your home.


With a home guide to slate roofing, you’ll know what a slate roof involves and you’ll be ready to make an informed installation decision for your home.

  1. If your roof develops issues, these problems can quickly progress to the point where they have a serious impact on your entire house.

    1.Slate Roof History

    Slate roofs have a long history in North America, first appearing in the early 1600s. By the late 1800s, the United States was actively exporting slate from the New England states and slate was becoming a preferred material for roofing. Slate roofs often sit atop historic buildings in historic sections of a city.

  2. 2.Slate Roof Details

    Slate color varies depending on the region, but the most common colors are black, gray, red and blue. Other colors include purple and green. Attributes of slate that make it an effective roofing material include its waterproof and fireproof nature. In addition, slate is so durable that a slate roof typically lasts for about 125 years. With careful maintenance, a slate roof may even last for 200 years.


    If you decide to reroof your house with slate, match the slate color with the other exterior colors of your home. If you need to replace a portion of your slate roof, match the existing slate with the new slate for a pleasing effect. Because of the historic significance, many communities consider slate roofs important to preserve.

  3. 3.Slate Roof Maintenance

    Some aspects of slate roof maintenance are no different from the way you would maintain any roof. Clean your gutters twice each year to make sure they stay free of obstructions. Avoid walking on the slate roof; however, because you may damage the surface with your weight.


    If you notice areas of your slate roof that appear broken or cracked, call a slater as quickly as possible to assess the problems. It’s important not to allow water to seep under the slate roof or additional problems could occur from water damage. The slater should be able to repair the damaged areas without much effort.


    If you have leaks in your slate roof, start by checking the flashing around the area. Flashing usually wears more quickly than slate and you may need to replace flashing periodically. If you must replace the sheathing underneath the slate, get advice from a professional to ensure that you use the correct sheathing materials that will work effectively with the slate.

  4. 4.Special Considerations

    If you live in an area with snow and ice in the winter, watch for ice dams that occur from water refreezing near the eaves. If ice pushes under the slate roof, major damage can occur. You may notice moisture issues in the attic and behind the siding as a result of ice dams. Get professional assistance if ice dams occur to prevent costly damage.


    If your roof develops issues, these problems can quickly progress to the point where they have a serious impact on your entire house. With basic preventative maintenance, you should be able to keep your slate roof attractive and in good repair for many years. In fact, a properly maintained slate roof will probably outlast you!

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