What are Slate Shingles?

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

When it comes to durability, few roofing styles are able to compete with slate shingles. With an average lifespan of 75 years, consumers often look to slate shingles for a long-lasting roofing solution. Made from sedimentary rocks, the slate used in this roofing system create a unique appearance that is easily distinguishable from other installations.

Often the drawback of slate roofing is the high upfront cost, a slight trade off for their higher degree of durability. A recent study of the Los Angeles roofing industry found that less than 1.5% of total tile roofing work in the Los Angeles/Orange County area involved slate roofing tiles.

The cause of this disparity when compared to slate roofing's dominance in other roofing sectors can be attributed to California’s lack of extreme weather conditions. By utilizing the resistance of natural stone, slate roofs generally outperform presidential asphalt shingles in nearly every side by side comparison.

This benefit is often ignored by new homeowners who are more concerned with immediate costs, but it is not uncommon for experienced homeowners to eventually install a slate roofing system after dealing with the maintenance costs associated with asphalt shingle systems.

The major variety of slate roofing materials are fiber cement, bituminous, and natural. Natural slate is known in the roofing industry for it's long lifetime and low cost of maintenance making it the most popular material for slate roofing.

Coming in a close second are the fiber cement tiles that are quickly showing their dominance in the Los Angles roofing sector due to fiber slates increased variety and color options over natural slate.

While technically both fiber and natural slates use bituminous as their main ingredient, newer slate roofing systems use a higher level of bituminous thus making the slate a bituminous slate. These slates are desired due to their ease to install and high degree of durability.


  • Value: Slate shingles in some circumstances can be a more affordable roofing option than traditional asphalt shingles, especially when longevity is taken into account.

  • Durability: Depending on maintenance, slate shingles can have a high degree of durability when compared to traditional asphalt shingles.

  • Long-Term Weathering: These shingles are have excellent long-term heat and weather resistance, and a well-installed slate roof may last a century or more.

  • Standardized Process: Slate shingles are an industry standard and have a heavily studied and standardized installation.

  • Efficiency: The slate shingle installation process is incredibly cost effective and efficient given you have the right roofing provider.

  • Environmental Impact: When slate shingle roofing systems are properly installed and maintained they can have minimal environmental impact.


  • Poor Installation: The vast majority of roofing contractors, as well as general contractors, know very little about slate roofs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t deter a lot of them from trying to install slate roofing tile anyway. When hiring a contractor, be sure to inquire about experience and ask for references.

  • Weight: The weight of slate roofing tile is anywhere between 800 and 1,500 pounds per 100 square feet. You’ll need to have your residence evaluated from a structural standpoint before you install slate roofing tile on your home to make sure it can take the weight.

  • Fragility: The natural fragility of slate shingles is a big negative for homeowners. Improper maintenance or incorrect footfalls can easily break or damage tiles.

  • Color Variance: Since slate comes in lots, that makes it nearly impossible to find replacement tiles that are a perfect match if you need to make repairs.

  • Quality: There is a large variance in quality between products. Less expensive materials can crack, craze, and delaminate, and the seam welds can fail, especially when exposed to severe temperature differences. As a rule of thumb, we suggest opting for better quality, more expensive materials to save you more in the long run.

Southland Roofing Inc. of Los Angeles and Orange County has entire teams that exclusively deal with slate shingles and slate shingle installation. We are proud to serve your roofing needs in the most efficient, safe, and cost effective manner possible.

While you consider what type of roof will work best for your property, contact us for a professional inspection and free roofing estimate on any work or repairs that may be required. Call us today at (310) 903-0536 to schedule an inspection and determine the right materials and services for you. Southland Roofing Inc. is committed to providing premier service at the right price. Serving Los Angeles and Orange County, we pride ourselves on safety, efficiency, and competitive pricing as we revolutionize the roofing industry. Contact us today to find out how we can serve all your roofing needs.

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