Natural slate is a product that can vary in quality and choosing the best product isn’t always an easy option. Here Andrea Ramirez, Product Manager – Pitched Roofing, for SIG Roofing discusses the history behind the foundation of natural slate for roofing and why they could be the perfect option for your project.

When it comes to roof coverings, there are many options available on the market and especially for those roofers who prefer the more natural finish offered by slates. The use of slate is becoming increasingly popular across the UK and the benefits of using slate as a roofing material has been recognised for centuries.

During the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the rise in the use of roofing slate soared. Landowners began to take control of slate quarries, which previously were small-scale operations, and slate became mass-produced.

A new building trade developed, and craftsmen emerged to fix this adaptable form of covering that was relatively easy to split, mine 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.

Installing natural slate requires more skill than most other kinds of roof covering. Roofers who are well versed in both British Standard 5534 and BS 8000 Part 6 will have the right level of experience to install a natural slate roof. Slate can only be installed onto a pitched roof, the minimum recommended pitch for natural slate is 25°, although this can be lowered down to 20° with specialist products and can also be dependent on the slate size. There are, however other products, methods of fixing and combination of slate sizes available, which may help achieve a lower pitch if needed. We recommend roofers to consult with technical slate specialists about low pitch roofing projects as guidance is applicable on a project by project basis. Depending on the complexity of the structure, installation of roofing slates can take anywhere from one week up to a few weeks or even longer.

One of the key benefits of purchasing natural slate for roofing is that they are fireproof as well as being environmentally friendly. Natural slate does not produce or give off volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) or any other type of pollution. However, care must be taken by roofers to use suitable PPE equipment such as gloves and masks when cutting slate on site to avoid harm. Once natural slates have been used upon a roof surface they can also be recycled if they outlast the building they are installed on.

Another great reason to use natural slate coverings is that they can provide insulation to the building below, which over a period of time can lower energy costs.

At SIG Roofing we offer a select range of natural slate roof coverings through our SIGA collection. 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 roofers and contractors. Furthermore, SIGA warranties range between 30-75 years and are fully backed by SIG PLC, a FTSE 250 organisation, offering security and peace of mind.

Looking back at the origin of natural slate it serves to remind us why this iconic and aspirational material continues to be revered amongst roofers. As well as its outstanding performance, beauty and intrinsic design qualities, we are confident that natural slate will remain at the forefront of roofing products.

For more information about SIG Roofing, please visit www.sigroofing.co.uk or follow @sigroofing on twitter.

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