Misconception – A Slate Roof is too Heavy

A homeowner is in need of a roof repair and must go through the many considerations with respect to finances, longevity, aesthetics, and what makes the most sense in that individual’s life. These decisions happen daily across our country and this post will share the experience.

This post is submitted by Rick Vollmar of Blue Line Stone & Home Engineering

Is Slate Too Heavy?

By way of introduction, I am a civil engineer with a love of stone addiction.  I just read your post about the vanishing slate roof industry. One of the things I’d like to add about the “coming together” part is this; homeowners are typically scared off by the weight of a slate roof.  I am a perfect example.  I just re-roofed my asphalt shingled roof (boooo) because I felt like the rafters could not support the additional weight.  As an engineer, I could have solved the problem easily, but time was the big consideration (I wanted to get it done over a 4-day Memorial Day weekend), as well as the learning curve I’d need to get up to speed in installing a slate roof.  On the order of difficulty, this roof was as simple as it gets – 15 squares at a 5:12, 3 vents and a chimney.  Piece of cake.  See pic.

But I regret it now for not spending the time to install the slate.  And that’s my story, and one that I’ll bet is repeated over and over when the far-n-few between people like me who are actually considering slate, don’t go with it in the end because of too much weight for the existing structure.  Is this a misconception?  If so, that is something the industry ought to focus on – changing the perception that a slate roof is too heavy.

This roof was the lower section. In less than 5 years, the upper section (another 15 squares, but a lot steeper (8:12), is going to need to be done. I AM NOT GOING TO REGRET IT AGAIN – this time it will be a slate roof.

So I’m also finally putting gutters up (after 21 years of wet basements).  These will be copper (I know, it would look unbelievably awesome with a slate roof).

Anyway, thanks for listening.  If I had to do it all over again (I’m 56), I would be a stone mason, while also dabbling in slate roofs.  I dig it!  Btw, my father was a tin-knocker, so I have a lot of his old tools – shears, snips, etc.