Roofing with tiles and slates has been with us for many centuries, with early examples of fired clay tiles found in Greece dating back to 3000BC. Styles have varied through fashion, climate and available materials. In Southern Europe, for example, the terracotta half-pipe tile, or pantile, is very popular. Cheap to produce from the local clay and easy to fit, they date back several millennia and panoramas of cities such as Florence would not be the same without them.
In Northern Europe, and especially in the UK, where the weather is often less kind, slate roofs have become the most popular choice. The biggest advantage of a slate roof is its strength and longevity. A slate roof is not the cheapest option to install, but on a cost per year basis it shows very good value for money against concrete or clay tiles. A natural product, slate roofs will often last up to eighty years, and any slate that does become delaminated can easily be replaced.
Within that material there are still several options to choose from. The first choice is natural slate, recognisable by its dark, grey-blue colour. Natural slate is formed from millions of years of pressure on the volcanic ash, silt or clay beneath the surface of the ground. It is most often found in Cornwall, North Wales and Cumbria, where it has been mined for centuries, and there are still a small number of working quarries. However, the advent of other slate types has decimated the industry over the past sixty years. It is a very strong material although perversely is easy to split into rectangular, roof tile shapes from the mined slabs. Because of its source as a mined product, natural slate is the more expensive option. However, confirming its durability, there are many suppliers of reclaimed roof slates who can provide unusual sizes for older buildings, or simply a less expensive way to fit the best material.
Stone slates (favoured by many roofers in Yorkshire) are made from sedimentary rocks, such as sandstone and limestone. Lighter in colour than natural slate, stone slates are often cut into thicker slabs and may be more suitable and in keeping with an older cottage roof. It is essential that adequate strength exists in the roof frame to support these heavier slates.
Concrete slates also require strong roof timbers. As the name suggests these are manufactured to resemble natural slate, but their formulation, which includes cement, means that although they are heavier they weather less well and will not last as long. Usually, concrete slates are cheaper to buy, explaining their common use for roofing on modern houses.
Another, lower cost option to roof your home is fibre cement slate. Manufactured to look like the natural product, they are also a common choice on new build homes.
This wide choice enables every homeowner to decide on the best roofing option – one that fits both the building’s age and structure and the owner’s pocket. Whatever choice is made, it is advisable to get expert help in constructing both the roofing timbers and the roof surface. Investment in skilled craftsmen at that stage will avoid the kind of mistakes that can prove costly in the years to come.
Most skilled Roofers Derby are members of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (www.nfrc.co.uk). The site contains other useful information, as well as how to find experts on Roof repairs Leicester.