The History of Slate Roofing

Slate is one of the most suitable and popular methods of roofing used by companies all over the UK. When approaching a Roofing Company Exeter homeowners aren’t always sure exactly which material is best for their job. At Exeter Roofing, however, we know how to match your building with the best possible material, and more often than not slate is what we opt for.


A Little History

Historically, slate has always been used in roofing, but almost exclusively in houses close to the site of excavation due to transportation costs. However, with the Industrial Revolution, slate began to pour into all parts of the world. Today, slate mostly comes from Spain, the world’s largest producer and exporter of natural slate. Over 90% of Europe’s natural slate used by roofing companies is from there.

However, that’s not to say that all our slate is imported. Slate has also been mined and quarried in the United Kingdom for centuries. You can find the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, Wales, at the site of old 19th century mining workshops. For roofing companies, Exeter is a great place to be located, because one of the UK’s well-known sites of slate production is just down the road in Cornwall, in the famous village of Delabole.


Slate’s popularity with many roofing companies in Exeter and around the country is due to its extremely low water absorption index – less than 0.4%! This makes the material practically waterproof, and in a city like Exeter at this time of year, this can definitely be needed!

Since waterproofing is already present in natural slate, it requires minimum processing. Slate’s durability also means that there is liSle to no maintenance required after installation. This “natural slate”, as it is known, also looks quite beautiful and comes in a variety of colours, often in shades of green and purple. In fact, both of these shades are often found in the mines at Wales.

The advantage of slate being waterproof also makes it almost immune to breakage due to freezing. In addition, it is an insulator of both fire and electricity.


There are a variety of ways in which slate can be incorporated into buildings, though it is now mostly used for roofing. In the UK, slate is cut to size and fixed with double nails onto timber before being fixed onto the roof. This way is common in England and Wales, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland prefer to nail the slate directly onto timber sarking boards. Either way, both methods provide a roof with a life of up to 80-100 years, with extreme durability.

As you can see, slate is an incredible material for more than just its practical advantages. And we’re not biased because we’re a roofing company, Exeter homeowners will love slate too because it is a beautiful, natural resource that has the ability to add a touch of history and personality to any building. For information on how to make your home look like it’s right out of a 19th century fairy-tale with a slate roof, contact us today.

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Fully qualified in traditional roofing works

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