Slate or tile roofs?

When installing a new roof you are will be faced with a choice: slate or tile? The main difference between the two materials is that slate is a natural stone which is mined, while tiles are manufactured and therefore man-made. However you can also get a fibre cement slate, otherwise known as a man-made slate, which is an alternative to a natural slate. This month we take a look at the differences between these two materials and offer some thoughts on the most suitable applications for each to help you make a decision for your own home.


Natural Slate is often seen as a more luxurious addition to a home given its fine-grained composition. It is also particularly suited to traditional homes as it helps to maintain that period character. Typically grey in colour, it can be found in a variety of shades, patterns, and textures offering variety of choice. Slate offers good protection against fire, rot, and insect damage and has a long life-span giving you peace of mind regarding the need, or lack of it, for early replacement. A well-installed slate roof can last as long as two lifetimes.

The fibre cement slate, is a cheaper alternative to the natural slate. This is becoming very popular in the domestic roofing industry, when the client wants to keep the same aesthetics of the property, but budgets play a part when choosing the materials. The man-made slate comes in a variety of colours and will be supported with a minimum 15-year warranty, but these slates will typically exceed 25 years if installation is of a high standard. Man-made slates are also used often when the weight of the roof coverings needs to be kept to a minimum.


The newer roof tiles are man-made and come in two varieties: concrete and clay. Both types of tiles are robust, but clay tiles will outlast concrete ties by double if installed to a high standard. Like the man-made slate, the fact that they are manufactured means that they come in a wider variety of colours, textures, and patterns offering greater choice. It also means that they also have greater application to more modern building designs. Both large and small tile options are available on the market, with either overlapping or interlocking styles.

The type of tile used on a roof can be determined by factors such as the surrounding property styles or the design of the roof, but most importantly, you must get the right tiles to match the pitch of the roof. If your roof has a shallow pitch of 15 degree’s (which is the absolute minimum we recommend), then it is no good choosing a tile that is has a minimum recommended pitch of 22.5 degree’s. These recommendations are put in place due to tests being carried out by the manufacturers.

Choosing between the two

In our opinion, the main reasons for using either slate or tiles would be personal preference, style of your home and budget. If your property is in a listed area then you will have to use ‘like for like’ materials, but if your property is not in a listed area, then have a look at what the surrounding property roofs look like, and get an idea of what you like. When you are ready, give Roof Rescue a call and we will do our best to make sure your roof is the best it can be.

Still unsure and want an expert opinion? Our Roof Rescue team is here to lend a helping hand; just give us a call on 020 3189 1618 and we’ll help you find the right solution.

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