About Slate

Slate is an outstanding natural material that has stood the test of time. You can enhance the prestige and beauty of any building project when you adorn it with beautiful slate. It’s one of the most functional, natural materials available to us. We know it’s been in use for at least 1,800 years and it is said to have been used as far back as AD 77, in the Roman fort at Segontium in Wales.


The standout feature of slate is its lifespan. Certainly 100 years is normal and there are references to a Welsh cathedral where the slate was taken off and reused after at least 250 years. So using slate on a roofing project is a sound investment. It’s likely that it will outlive you and probably your children as well!

Benefits of using slate

Long life is far from the only benefit of slate. It also offers many individual choices of finish that will enhance your project:

  • Good looks – a slate roof delivers style and elegance.
  • Colour choices – select the perfect tones to suit any project style. They range from black through to lighter blues
  • Grain – a variety of grains are available to add depth to colour and texture.
  • Smooth or textured for a more rustic look.
  • Sizes and shapes – can be cut to size or shaped for decorative features.
  • Slate is waterproof, fireproof and heat resistant. It is also acid resistant and colour-fast. Very tough and almost maintenance free, you will often see it being re-used after removal from an old building.

Types of Slate

Wales, Canada and Spain produce the most sought after slate. Welsh Penrhyn is the most popular, followed by Canadian Glendyne and Spanish Cafersa. These are the top of the range slates and are used exclusively by First Class Slate in all of their work.

Welsh Penrhyn

The world’s premium quality slate comes from the Penrhyn Quarry in Wales, where it has been produced since the 13th century. It has the longest lifespan of any slate, offering at least a hundred years. It has been known to be removed from a building and re-used well over a century after it was first installed, still in perfect condition.

Welsh slate’s main attributes are:

  • Water-resistant.
  • Longevity – at least 100 years.
  • Stands up to adverse weather conditions.
  • Resistant to chemicals, acids and alkalines.
  • Retains natural colour and will not fade, even in UV light.
  • Larger sizes available.

Penrhyn Heather Blue (also known as Bangor Blue) is perhaps the best known, followed by the Dark Blue Grey from the Cwt-y-Bugail quarry . This slate has a dark blue grey colour with occasional white veins.

So even though Welsh slate is more expensive than some other slate, its high quality and durability make it a perfect choice for heritage or other projects which will benefit from authenticity of materials.

Canadian Slate

Though Canada has only been producing slate for about 75 years, it is of excellent quality and original roofs in the area are still in good condition. Glendyne, the most popular slate, is dark grey in colour with tones of blue and a fine texture and grain. While the quality is very high, it doesn’t have the long record that Welsh slate does. But the use of modern extraction and high quality finishing methods is producing a slate which is becoming much sought after.

Spanish Cafersa

Spain is responsible for 90% of the world’s slate production, though it is a very young industry in that country. But production is such that a guaranteed supply is always available. Spanish Cafersa slate, available in colours of charcoal grey through to blue-black can offer more variation than many types of slate, because of its distinctive grains and textures. This slate is pyrite-free, which means it won’t rust and discolour, so it is used in projects that require a totally clean look. This is the least expensive of the high quality slates. Each of the different types of slate offers its own unique characteristics and is chosen to fit the needs of individual projects. One slate does not necessarily fit all, so it is important to discuss the merits of each type with your project manager. But you can be sure that when you want to enhance the looks of your building, add value and ensure minimum maintenance, installing a slate roof on your property is the ideal solution.

Contact First Class Slate for our completely free quote, or to get more information on how we can help with your roofing solutions.