Natural Slate – defying the ages

Raasay House

We all know that natural slate is one of the world’s oldest roofing materials; indeed many of our historic buildings are adorned with slate roofs. The benefits of using slate as a roofing material have been recognised since Roman times with the later additions of the Roman fort at Segontium in Wales using slate as a roofing material in the 2nd Century.

It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century that roofing slate really took off. Landowners began to take control of the slate quarries that previously were small scale operations. Transport and technical innovations such as steam engines and hydropower enabled slate to be mass-produced, and it soon began to cover the roofs of new houses being built in the rapidly developing industrial towns. Slate was exported to the United States and Ireland, and by the turn of the century Wales was producing more than half the United Kingdom’s output of slate.

Hence, a new building trade developed, and craftsmen emerged to fix this adaptable form of covering that was relatively easy to mine and split, and easy to stack. Over time, it became clear that natural slate could provide buildings with protection from all the elements – particularly frost and rain due to its low water absorption – and that it required little or no maintenance.

Looking back at natural slate’s origins serves to remind us why this iconic and aspirational material continues to be revered amongst architects, specifiers, builders and developers today. As well as its outstanding performance, beauty and intrinsic design qualities, we are assured that natural slate will truly stand the test of time.

These very attributes serve to make natural slate a premium product in comparison to other roofing materials, and with a lifespan of around 80-100 years, it continues to adorn many prestigious buildings.

Today, natural slate is available from all around the world with 90% of the world’s slate originating from Spain. When sourcing slate, it pays to check the origins before purchase, as not all slate is of the same quality and an inferior product may not deliver on its promise. It’s also worthwhile dealing with a supplier with a solid reputation and a long history of sourcing slate.

SIGA slate is renowned for its quality, reliability and integrity. We have our own dedicated team and operations in the quarrying region of Spain, one of only a few suppliers to have this direct investment. By providing information about where the slate comes from, how to work with it, and clearly identifying different ranges through colour coding, along with notifications on any changes in legislation, there is always clarity and guidance for contractors. Furthermore, SIGA warranties range between 30-75 years and are fully backed by SIG, a FTSE250 organisation, offering security and peace of mindeven if the quarry that supplies the slate ceases trading.

If you’re considering investing in natural slate, why not talk to the experts? Give us a call on 01480 466 777 or visit

Registered Office: SIG Trading Limited, Adsetts House, 16 Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, S9 1XH. Registered in England No. 01451007 VAT No. GB 487 01733