A History Of Natural Slate Roofing and a Rubber Roofing Alternative

February 24, 2022

A History Of Natural Slate Roofing and a Rubber Roofing Alternative

Slate roofing has a unique, rich history and is used worldwide. Slate is known as one of the most durable and highest quality roofing materials with a long-lasting life compared to any other building material. Its malleable nature yet tough qualities enable it to be broken into thin, durable sheets. However, it has a relatively high cost, it is difficult to install and repair, and it is not a product well-suited to heavy snow-load regions like Alberta. However, If you love the aesthetics of slate, we’ve got you covered.

Continue reading to learn more about the history of slate roofing, specifically its progression in North America and the development of an alternative product with the same aesthetic better-suited for Alberta.

What Is Slate?

Slate is a fine-grained, homogeneous material excavated from the ground. It is derived from shale sediment composed of clay and volcanic ash that underwent low-grade regional metamorphism. It is durable, dense, and known as ‘virtually nonabsorbent.’

Like most natural products, the differences in chemical and physical compositions of slate can lead to varying colour, texture, and other characteristics. However, some grades of slate do have the ability to absorb moisture. Over time, this can lead to the deterioration of the roof deck’s components.

When & Where Was Slate First Quarried?

The first-ever slate roof was a private home in North Wales around 1300 A.D. However, it was too costly and labour-intensive to source and install a slate roof back then. Therefore, most of the slate roofing was usually found on castles or other military structures only.

In the 1800s, the Spanish created a quarrying process that worked efficiently to produce enough slate for everyday homes. This was a game-changing moment in the slate industry. Its dominance and expertise resulted in 90 percent of European houses using slate originating from Spain for roofing.

Coming to North America

It was only in the late 1600s when slate roofing became available in North America. Initially, it was very expensive and only a handful of families and organizations were able to afford it. However, after the first quarry opened in the late 1800s, the slate was allowed to be made available to general consumers but in limited amounts.

It was not until the second half of the 19th century, slate became mass quarried. To this day, Vermont is a major producer of North American slate. It is special in its composition, primarily an S1 quality stone. It comes in a rare variety of colours, including gray, black, green, purple, and red.

Slate in Canada

In Canada, slate roofing flourished in the second half of the 19th century. It was stimulated by railway and urban development projects as well as architectural fashion. This made slate quarrying cost-effective with more slate roofs continuing to appear between 1900 and 1930. But, similar to Vermont and America, the slate market was reduced to wealthy clients due to increasing options of cheaper products.

Slate: A Natural Fit

Why was slate chosen as a roofing material when there are so many less costly options to pick from? The answer lies in the composition of slate that imparts its unique characteristics that make it a natural fit for roofing. Its malleable breakability allows it to be formed into thin sheets with relative ease.

On the other hand, slate is also extremely tough, making it a perfect covering for homes and other structures. Where other rocks would be too soft to provide protection or too hard to break, slate perfectly sits in a sweet spot between those extremes.

Slate Roofing Repairs

AKRoN Roofing’s President and co-founder is well-versed in slate roofing. Rodney Gabrielson’s introduction into roofing began nearly 25 years ago with natural slate when he was trained and worked on the Balm Mansion in Pump Hill in SW Calgary. At the time, it was the largest in-city house in Canada and a three-year, all natural slate roof project. He later managed the slate roof installation of a French gothic-style 11,000 square foot cathedral in Kananaskis. AKRoN Roofing was founded with the idea that the same level of installation and attention to detail for high-end projects be applied to all homeowner’s projects.

Slate roofing is susceptible to wear and tear with time, especially if it is old. Alberta’s heavy snow load can cause slate breakage, snow slides and dangerous conditions below a slate roof eave-line. In addition, it can be difficult to acquire replacement slate to conduct repairs that will match an existing slate roof. However, if a homeowner has a stockpile of extra slate pieces, AKRON Roofing can confidently help with slate roof repairs. With our roof measurement technology, such as GAF QuickMeasure and HOVER e360, we can provide on point roof inspection analysis and give you an estimate. Depending on the scope of work, we can perform repairs covering the damaged section or the entire roof, as required. Some typical defects on a slate-roofed building may include:

  • Cracked slate either vertically or horizontally
  • Broken corners
  • Sheet metal repair materials under the slate shingles
  • Insufficient slate overlaps
  • Holes due to incorrectly installed shingle units or iron deposits
  • Delamination of slate resulting from mineral impurities
  • Backed out or protruding fasteners
  • Sealant repairs over defective slate

Rubber Roofing: A Slate Alternative Manufactured In Calgary

As discussed in the article, the slate roofing system has been in use for decades. However, like any other industry, the roofing industry is moving forward in lockstep with technological advances.

Hence, over the past manhy years, several alternatives to the slate roof system have been developed. One of these is Euroshield’s Rubber Roofing which provides the aesthetic appeal of authentic slate but with the lightness of rubber, unprecedented durability, and comparative longevity.

Euroshield Rubber Roofing has Slate options:

Vermont Slate

Vermont Slate roofs are designed to provide you with a balance between beauty and protection. They have the rich texture, edge detailing and fine-grain features of real slate. In addition to this, they also provide protection against ultraviolet radiation, thermal expansion, high winds, hail storms and rapid changes in temperature.

Rundle Slate

Rundle Slate, as compared to Vermont Slate, has a hint of old-world European luxury. They are designed for individuals who want to go for a rugged elegance look, and want longevity. They provide the appeal of upscale, extra-thick, chiselled-edge slate. These qualities are combined with the relative lightness of rubber and the guaranteed durability of a roof that will last a lifetime.

Both Vermont Slate and Rundle Slate include:

  • Hailstone protection with unmatched Class 4 UL2218 Impact resistance.
  • A 50-year warranty.
  • Wind testing of up to 160 mph for two hours of continuous exposure at PRI Labs in Tampa, Florida
  • Increased amounts of carbon black with the ability to absorb otherwise damaging ultraviolet rays

As far as the manufacturing of the rubber roofs is concerned, Euroshield rubber roofs are manufactured from 95% recycled materials. They are made from the highest quality virgin crumb rubber derived from recycled tires.

Thanks to the durability, sturdiness and efficiency provided by these rubber roofs, proprietors of Scotland’s legendary Old Course Hotel at St Andrews (sits on the oldest golf course in the world) decided to get their 28-year-old roof replaced with Euroshield’s Rubber Roof.

Brian Eberle, then-director of marketing and sales at Euroshield, while talking about the topic said,

“They were searching for a product that would match the heritage look of the slate, but also offer a degree of protection and longevity from golf balls hitting the roof and causing damage. It’s an honor that our product was selected amongst all the potential products around the world — we’re very pleased.”

About Us

AKRoN Roofing is a fully insured roofing contractor and a proud member of BBB with an A+ Rating. We are part of a marketplace of trust and integrity. Moreover, our company is a member of the Alberta Allied Roofing Association and if you are planning on applying for the City of Calgary Resilient Roofing rebate, we can help you out. We’ve installed over 100 Euroshield Roofs in and around Calgary.

Our company is a small business in Southern Alberta offering full services and special attention to detail with quality customer service from our owners that only small companies can provide. In addition to providing services like sloped and flat roofing, eavestrough and other soft metals, skylight installation and roof repairs, we also assist homeowners with insurance claims.

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