A Brief History of Slate

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NSW Slate Roofing has been in the business of installing beautiful, durable slate roofs for decades. Our founder, Kinsley Dennings, has been working with slate since he was a teenager. Slate roofs have a unique, rich history and are used all over the world. Slate offers superior durability and longevity compared to any other building material on earth. The craft of working with slate is usually passed down from father to son in the industry. Today, we’ll discuss a brief history of slate and why this roofing material is one of the most iconic in the world.

What is slate?

Slate is a fine-grained, homogeneous metamorphic rock that comes from shale-type sedimentary rock. Sedimentary rock is comprised of clay and volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism. Slate is an entirely natural product that has been used for centuries. Today, homeowners can enjoy natural slate tiles as well as composite slate tiles for their floor or roof.

When and where was slate first quarried?

Slate quarrying began in the UK and North Wales hundreds of years ago. With the influx of UK and Welsh immigrants into Australia in the latter half of the 19th century, slate roofs became a central feature in Australian building construction.

How is slate used in buildings?

Slate can be used as a roofing material or as floor tiling. It is incredibly durable, lasts for centuries, and is a beautiful material that comes in a variety of colours and textures.

Slate has two lines of breakability called cleavage and grain. It is, therefore, possible to split the stone into thin sheets, making tiles. Even when broken into tiles, slate maintains its natural appearance and structural integrity. When it is cut, the slate can be stacked and easily transported.

In the 19th century, slate was incredibly popular in UK building construction. Not only can you use slate for roofs, but an entire building can also be made out of slate. Slate buildings are an iconic feature of the Bethesda area in Wales. Today, slate is sometimes put into walls and is used as a damp-proof membrane. Slate offcuts are fashioned into shims and used to level floor joists, too.

How is slate used in Australia today?

Slate is an incredibly popular and sought-after roofing material in Australia. Because Australia derives much of its heritage from the UK and Wales, the craft of slate roofing installation has been passed down for many generations.

Property owners enjoy the variety, durability, and longevity of slate roofing tiles. Slate can be found in shades of grey, as well as greens, reds, and purples. The colour of slate is determined by the stone’s amount and type of iron and organic material present in the rock.

Slate can be quarried and cut into different sizes and textures too. Homeowners can choose from many different slate tiles that will fit any architectural style.

Best of all, slate will last for more than 100 years. It requires very little maintenance and is an excellent investment in the property. While popular roofing materials, such as asphalt shingle, are tough on the environment, slate is a green material.

Today, you can purchase and install Welsh, Canadian, Spanish, and composite slate tiles.

Welsh Slate

Welsh slate is mined from the 12th-century quarry in Bethesda, Wales. This material is renowned for its blue-grey appearance. Welsh slate offers superior durability, colouration, and energy efficiency.

Spanish Slate

Spanish slate is mined from a quarry in the Cabrera mountains of Spain. Many slates will fade in colour, but Spanish slate is renowned for maintaining its blue-grey appearance for 100 years. Spanish slate has been used in Buckingham Palace and the British Museum.

Canadian Slate

Also known as Glendyne slate, this stone is famous for its fine, smooth texture. Canadian slate is sourced from a 500 million-year-old slate deposit near Quebec and comes in blue tones that offer a distinct, polished look to the roof.

Composite Slate

Natural slate is a heavy material, and because of the process involved in slate quarrying, it can be cost-prohibitive for many homeowners. Composite slate, a synthetic material, offers the look of a natural slate roof without the associated costs. Composite slate looks polished and is a low-maintenance material.

Here at NSW Slate Roofing, we’re highly experienced with installing natural and composite slate roofs on a variety of homes and commercial buildings. With decades of experience in the craft of slate repair and installation, we’re happy to give our valued customers a beautiful slate roof that will last a lifetime. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote for your roof.