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The average cost of a slate roof is between $14,000 and $60,000 (to install 2,000 square feet of materials),* or $7–$12 per square foot. Slate tiles are amongst the biggest investments when it comes to new roof costs, but they’re also so durable you may never need to replace them. We’ll explain what determines these costs and your slate type, style, and hardness options.
*Article cost data sourced from Fixr and Home Advisor.
Slate Roof Major Cost Factors
Slate roof costs are primarily determined by the slate’s type, hardness, and the roof’s size.
Type of Slate
The cost of materials for a new slate roof is mostly based on your chosen slate type. When people imagine a slate roof, they usually picture natural stone, but that’s not the only option. Roof slate tiles can be synthetic, natural, or a hybrid of both.
Cost by Type of Slate
Synthetic slate is the most affordable, followed by hybrid. Natural slate is the costliest.
|Slate Type||Cost per Square Foot|
Synthetic slate mimics the appearance of natural materials, but it’s typically a composite of asphalt, rubber, ceramic, fiber cement, or even metal. Some of these materials may be recycled. Synthetic slate roof tiles cost far less than natural slate tiles and are much lighter in weight, but they’re also less durable, with a life span of 20 to 50 years.
Hybrid tiles combine natural stone with other materials. They may be stone-coated metal like steel or aluminum, which is naturally fire-resistant. Alternatively, they may be slate roof shingles where the visible tabs are real slate but the parts covered by the overlap are synthetic. Hybrid slate falls between synthetic and natural slate in cost and weight, comparable to the cost of a metal roof. The tiles’ exact life span will depend on their composition, but hybrid slate should last at least 30 years.
Finally, natural slate is the most high-end option. It’s also the most durable, and slate comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. A high-quality, properly installed natural slate roof can last 100 years or more. The downside, other than the investment, is the materials’ weight. The existing roof decking frequently needs to be reinforced to support so much stone, and there’s a specialty installation process to prevent tiles from cracking.
Hardness of Slate
Natural slate is useful as a roofing material because it’s hard enough to resist many types of damage. All stones and minerals have a hardness value measured on the Mohs scale from 1 (talc) to 10 (diamond). Slate generally falls between 2.5 and 4, putting it on par with marble and limestone. Within that range, natural slate roofing materials are available as either hard or soft slate and are priced accordingly.
Cost by Hardness of Slate
Hard slate tends to cost significantly more than soft slate.
|Slate Hardness||Cost per Square Foot|
Soft slate is a natural stone with the same resistance to fire and water damage as harder materials. It’s generally a bit lighter than hard slate and can last 50 to 125 years.
Hard slate has a life span of up to 200 years and can often be restored rather than replaced. The drawbacks are the heavier weight and bigger investment.
Like all roofing materials, slate is priced by square foot. The more you need, the more it will cost. Here’s how much slate roofs cost by size.
|Size in Square Feet||Cost Range|
Slate roof installation is a complex project—not all licensed roofing companies have contractors with the necessary knowledge and training to install them. Thus, a substantial portion of the total cost of this roofing project goes toward labor. Slate roofing contractors charge between $50 and $100 per hour depending on the project’s specifics and your local cost of living. You may also pay more during the busy spring and summer seasons when roofers are in high demand.
Professional vs. DIY Slate Roofs
Installing a slate roof is a job that should be left to the roof pros. Here’s why.
Professional Slate Roof Installation
Our research indicates that you need to hire an experienced professional when installing slate tiles. First, slate is extremely heavy. Before roofing contractors are able to lift slate tiles to the roof using specialized equipment, they’ll likely need to retrofit your existing roofing system to carry the extra weight. When the tiles are installed, they need to be cut, shaped, and punched, which also requires specialty tools and knowledge. Finally, most roofing materials require installation by a licensed professional in order to maintain the warranty.
DIY Slate Roof Installation
Unfortunately, this is one project where you can’t save on installation costs by doing the work yourself. Roof work in general comes with safety risks, and slate is so heavy and potentially slick that the risk increases. Additionally, while slate is durable, it’s also brittle, so handling it incorrectly or walking on it could cause it to crack or break. To protect your safety and avoid wasting premium materials, have a licensed, experienced roofer perform the installation.
Additional Factors Affecting Slate Roof Cost
Depending on the specifics of your project, the following factors could also determine where it falls in the listed price range.
Any aspects of your roof design that make a project more complex or time-consuming will likely increase the final cost. For example, particularly steep roofs may require more time and safety equipment, particularly when dealing with a heavy material such as slate. Multilevel homes will have higher roofing costs. Working around roof penetrations such as dormers, vents, and chimneys also increases the job’s complexity. Thus, a roof pro will likely need to perform a visual inspection before providing an estimate.
Slate is a very low-maintenance roofing material, but it does require a small amount of upkeep. Although water won’t penetrate the tiles, moss and mold can grow on a slate surface, and cleaning will run about $0.30 to $0.70 per square foot. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have any roof that’s at least five years old professionally inspected on an annual basis. For a slate roof, this is likely to cost around $350.
If you’re replacing an old roof, the existing materials and underlayment will need to be removed and disposed of. These costs are usually included in a professional estimate, costing between $1 and $5 per square foot.
Before contractors can install your new roof, they’ll need to ensure that the underlying structure and decking are in good condition. The cost of roof repair varies from about $200 to patch small cracks and leaks to $5,000 or more to fix widespread sagging or rot. Additionally, if you’re converting from an asphalt roof to a slate roof, you’re likely to need extra support beams, trusses, and other types of reinforcement. This can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the work’s extensiveness.
Style of Slate
Uniform rows of identical slate tiles aren’t your only roofing option. You can also use variations of color, size, thickness, and texture to create styles and patterns, though this may cost a bit more in materials and labor.
Standard slate roofing is composed of tiles that are approximately the same color, texture, and shape for a uniform appearance. The tiles are typically between 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch thick, and are laid out in even, overlapping rows. This is the most common slate roof style, and usually the least expensive and easiest to source.
Graduated Length/Thickness Slate
Rather than use uniform sizes and shapes, some roofs use gradations of these features, installing the shortest and thinnest tiles near the roof peak and the longest and thickest at the eaves. In the past, this was a way to compensate for nonuniformity in hand-quarried stone, but now it’s done to create a specific aesthetic.
These roofs blend two to four slate colors for a variegated appearance. Shapes may be uniform, but it’s more common for multicolored tiles to come in varying widths. Sometimes colors are also chosen so that they’ll weather and fade similarly over time.
A patterned slate roof mixes colors or shapes to create a pattern visible from the ground. There may be accent tiles or bands of color for visual interest.
Tiles used for a textural slate roof are typically thicker and more rough-cut. The effect is a more rustic-looking roof since the tiles are roughly the same width but vary in thickness.
How to Reduce Slate Roof Costs
Although a slate roof represents a substantial financial investment, homeowners can save on roof replacement costs with the following tips.
- If you like the look of slate but not the weight or price, opt for hybrid or composite slate tiles made of other materials.
- If you want natural stone, remember that soft slate is more cost-effective than hard slate.
- Balance up-front costs with durability. Quality slate materials can last a lifetime, saving you money on roof replacement costs over decades.
- Choose a simple, uniform design rather than a complex pattern of different styles or shingle colors.
- In milder climates, have your roof replaced during the offseason when labor is likely to cost less.
How to Hire a Professional
When choosing between roofing companies, here’s what to look for.
- Make sure that the contractor has specific experience installing slate tiles, which requires different tools and processes than other types of roofing.
- A roofing contractor must have a state-issued license. Make sure the license is current.
- All contractors should be bonded and insured to protect you, your home, and themselves.
- Check the company’s Better Business Bureau page, which shows a company’s rating, accreditation status, and any outstanding complaints.
- Ask for references and to see the contractor’s previous slate work. Look at customer reviews on reputable sites such as Trustpilot.
- Get at least three quotes from local contractors. When possible, get a full, itemized estimate so you know exactly where your money’s going.
Although a slate roof’s price is substantially higher than the national average cost of a shingle roof, it lasts far longer. Asphalt shingles eventually end up cluttering landfills after 20 years, whereas natural slate can remain in good shape for up to 200. If you opt for a slate roof, hire a licensed roofer with specific experience installing this material. We recommend starting your search by filling out the form below for a free quote.
Slate Roof FAQ
How long will a slate roof last?
Soft slate roofs last 50 to 125 years, but hard slate can last for up to 200 years.
Is a slate roof worth it?
While the answer will depend on your needs and budget, slate’s long life span and low maintenance make it extremely cost-effective in the long run.
How often should slate roofs be maintained?
Slate roofs should undergo professional inspection once per year to catch any potential problems early. Additionally, while there’s no set time line for cleaning, you may want to hire professional cleaners to remove any moss or mold.