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Why Slate Roofs Have Made a Comeback in Australia

A slate roof, we would all agree, looks superb on heritage buildings that have been well-maintained. In fact, the majority of the world’s iconic older buildings are crowned with slate roofing, and many of these have lasted for centuries.

In Sydney, slate roofs are seen everywhere in buildings from the early days of the city. Slate was readily available as huge amounts of the stone were shipped to Australia in the holds of trading ships and worked as ballast. Once here, it came to be the preferred roofing material of the new colony.

For many decades, slate has been out of fashion, but fads come and go, and so far technology has been unable to recreate the range of benefits that slate offers for roofing.


Slate is making a comeback

Today, architects are rediscovering slate as a unique material not only for its exceptional properties but even more for its dramatic visual effect. Many new, bespoke builds for residential homes and commercial buildings across Australia are now utilising slate roofing in unusual and contemporary ways.

Inside new buildings slate is being used for ceilings, and the long-time traditional slate floor is more popular than ever, but roofing remains the number one usage. Here are five reasons why slate has stood the test of time.

  1. Slate works in perfect harmony with other contemporary materials

With any matte, polished or painted metal surfaces slate accentuates the visual impact of the design; the same with any wall colour, or most effectively with rustic varnished hardwoods. Slate’s natural glow stands against the sky or water with elegance. As a natural material, slate blends into any commissioned architectural plan with ease and can turn a great design into something extraordinary. It comes in a range of colours, too: greys, reds, greens and purples.

  1. Slate is versatile

Slate offers not only the traditional look we see on churches, old Government buildings, and terrace houses. In creative projects here in Australia, and globally, contemporary buildings are using slate with significant effect.

Slate comes as smooth and fine-grained as an old blackboard, or with a rustic texture and colour. Many architects are experimenting with slate and are using custom shapes and different applications – larger tiles, square-finish tiles, tiles as cladding, and more. In fact, slate tiles are being used in many innovative configurations.

  1. Slate is naturally attractive

New creative design ideas are complemented by slate’s natural properties. This lustrous stone resists rot and mildew like no other roofing material and is completely fireproof. Formed by mudstone and shale under intense pressure for millions of years, slate contains mica minerals, which give it its attractive sheen.

  1. Slate is eco-friendly

Slate has very little environmental impact as there is no manufacturing process involved in its production. It comes straight from the ground and can be prepared ready for use without causing carbon emissions.

  1. Slate is in for the long-haul

This stone is stronger and more durable than any other roofing material, and resists weathering, almost laughing off the elements. A well installed slate roof will remain in excellent condition for 100 years, or with care, for many centuries. When a slate roof needs repairing, it’s usually the fastenings that need repairing, not the slate.

If you’re creating architectural plans for clients or having your new home built, then slate roofing could be that magic touch you’re looking for.