Slate is one of the most widely used building materials in Scotland. It is particularly well known for its use as a roof covering on many traditional Scottish buildings. Slate has been used for this purpose for centuries.
Scottish slate has a well-earned reputation as a long-lasting material. But slate from some areas is much more durable than slate from other locales. Research has found that two main factors affect slate’s durability: its mineral composition and its crystallinity.
It’s wise to regularly inspect any areas of slate on a building to spot potential problems as soon as they appear. You should also make it a rule to check a slate roof, which is especially vulnerable, after any storms or gales.
Regular maintenance and repairs of a slate roof should be relatively inexpensive. Keeping on top of repairs will ensure that the roof stays watertight and performs well. The occasional replacement of a handful of slates is usually all that’s needed. Annual checks and replacements are usually about £200 – £300.
Scotland has a long history of slate quarrying. There were at least 80 slate quarries at one time. Ballachulish, Scotland’s largest slate quarry, had an annual output of 25 million slates by the mid-1800s. But the industry had dwindled by the early 20th century.
Looking after slate is all the more important since the material hasn’t been quarried in Scotland since the 1950s. Supplies for replacement purposes are very limited and so it’s best to reuse slates wherever possible.