There are few roofing materials as long-lasting and elegant as slate. But these benefits come at a cost: Slate roofs are some of the most expensive to install.
The average cost to install a slate roof falls between $20,825 and $26,010. However, your cost can vary widely based on the size of your roof and the specific type of slate you choose.
Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about installing slate roof shingles and how much they cost. We reviewed pricing data provided by actual contractors and industrial suppliers, then compared this information with current public market information.
- Slate is one of the most expensive roofing materials, but also one of the most beautiful.
- Slate roofs can last as long as 200 years.
- If you’re considering converting from an asphalt shingle roof to a slate roof, you’ll need to budget for extensive reinforcements of your home’s roofing structure.
What Is the Cost of a Slate Roof?
The current national average cost for a slate roof is between $12.25 to $15.30 per square foot. Since the standard American roof is 1,700 square feet, that puts the average slate roof installation cost at $20,825 and $26,010. However, slate is one of the most widely varying materials regarding price, and some types of slate roofs can cost homeowners well over $50,000.
|Cost Level||Material Cost (Per Square Foot)||Installation Cost (Per Square Foot)||Total (Per Square Foot)||Project Total (For a Typical Roof)|
|Low-end Cost Range||$6.03–$8.25||$2.97–$3.97||$9.00–$12.22||$15,300–$20,774|
|National Average Cost Range||$8.35–$10.25||$3.90–$5.05||$12.25–$15.30||$20,825–$26,010|
|High-end Cost Range||$13.74–$20.10||$6.76–$9.90||$20.50–$30+||$34,850–$51,00|
We retrieve cost data from RSMeans, a project estimator for contractors and home improvement experts. The average costs listed in this article include materials and labor fees.
What Is the Cost of Slate Roof By Type?
One of the major reasons why a slate roof cost can vary so wildly is due to the numerous types of slate available. Slate roofs can come in natural, synthetic, and hybrid shingles. Natural slate comes in two subcategories, hard and soft. Each of these materials has its own pros, cons, and associated costs.
Natural Hard Slate
Hard slate is one of the most expensive roof materials on the market. These roof tiles are dense, durable, heavy, and beautiful. They are also the longest-lived shingles you can buy, lasting up to 200 years. The materials themselves are expensive, but the installation costs are high, as well: Due to their weight, most homes must be specially fitted and reinforced before putting in a natural hard slate roof, requiring specially trained contractors. With all these requirements, hard slate roofs typically cost between $20 to $30 or more per square foot.
Natural Soft Slate
Soft slate is cheaper than hard slate but less durable. As its name implies, soft slate is much easier to cut, manipulate, and install. This makes its total costs much lower, between $15 to $25 per square foot on average. However, this softness also means that it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as a hard slate, only having a lifespan of 50 to 100 years.
If your home isn’t compatible with natural slate, your next best option is hybrid slate tiles. Hybrid slate combines natural slate with waterproof synthetic materials. These tiles look like a real slate but with a more affordable price tag, typically costing $12 to $15 per square foot. These tiles, unfortunately, don’t share slate’s longevity, only lasting between 20 to 30 years.
The most cost-effective type of slate roof is the synthetic variant. In reality, synthetic slate isn’t slate at all, but instead, another type of material that has been modeled to look like slate.
The most common type of synthetic slate is composed of rubber, clay, asphalt, and other plastics.
These tiles look exactly like authentic slate but only cost around $9 to $12 per square foot, are easier to install, and lack the heavy weight of authentic slate. The downside is that these roofs are also the shortest-lived, lasting only 10 to 20 years, and some brands are known to fade, crack, and peel after only a few years.
What Is Slate Roof Installation Cost by Roof Size?
After material costs, the next major determiner of your new slate roof installation will be square footage. The larger the roof, the more materials and labor hours are needed for your project.
The average American roof comes in at around 1,700 square feet. Below is an analysis of the total expected cost of a slate roof replacement based on varying roof sizes.
|Roof Size (In Square Feet)||Price Range||Average Cost|
How Much Does a Slate Roof Cost In Materials?
Natural slate tiles are typically sold in two ways: squares and bundles.
- Squares: In roofing, a square refers to a package containing enough material to cover a 100-square-foot area of a roof. Squares are in most big-box, home improvement, and onlies stores.
- Bundles: A bundle is roughly one-third of the contents of a square. These are typically used for smaller projects, like repair jobs or shingling a shed roof.
In most cases, you or your contractor will purchase your slate roof materials in squares. For the average 1,700-square-foot roof, you’d need 17 squares – plus extra to compensate for damage. Below we’ll explain what you can expect to pay when purchasing slate shingles in both squares and bundles. Note that these tables only show the cost of materials and don’t include labor or overhead.
|Number of Squares||Total Material Cost Range||Total Material Cost Average|
What Factors Impact How Much a Slate Roof Costs?
Total square footage and material type are the two most significant contributors to the cost of roofing projects. But other secondary factors can also majorly impact your final bill. You’ll want to understand these factors when shopping for a quote; otherwise, you might be in for some sticker shock when the bill comes due.
Below, we’ll review these factors and explain how they can impact your roof installation price.
You might assume that your roof’s square footage will be roughly the same as the base square footage of your home – but this is not typically the case. Unless you have a flat roof, it will likely have one or more distinct slopes that can increase its square footage by a shocking amount.
To find your roof’s true square footage, you’ll first need to know how steep its pitch is. A roof’s pitch is determined by how many inches horizontally it extends by every 12 inches it rises. For example, if your roof extends four inches for every 12 inches it rises, your pitch is 4:12. With this information, you can head over to a roof pitch calculator, plug in your roof’s information, and find your actual square footage.
Here is a quick table looking at how much pitch can affect the square footage of a roof and your project’s total cost. Your roofing contractor will take these measurements before giving you a quote on a new slate roof.
|Base Square Footage of Home||Roof Pitch||Roof’s True Area in Square Feet||Slate Shingle Installation Cost|
If you’re replacing an existing roof, the old roofing material will need to be removed. Shingle removal typically costs $125 to $500 per square. Most companies will also charge a disposal fee, which can vary greatly depending on region, but is typically between $300 and $600.
You may also be charged for small roof repair jobs during this process. Roof structures like flashing and decking may need to be removed during the replacement. If any major work, like alterations to gutter systems, needs to be done, most reputable roofing companies will ask permission beforehand and generate an updated estimate.
Here is a rundown of the average cost of shingle removal based on roof size (shingle disposal fee included).
|Roof Size (In Square Feet)||Shingle Removal and Disposal Cost|
Reinforcing Existing Roof Structures
Slate roofs are more than three times as heavy as standard roofing materials. So if you’re replacing your typical asphalt shingles with slate ones, you’ll likely need to reinforce your existing roof or completely build a new roof structure.
Reframing and replacement costs vary wildly depending on your home’s size, roof design, age, and condition. Still, you can typically expect to pay an additional $15,000 to $30,000 or more for roof reinforcement or reframing. If you’re replacing an existing slate roof, you can likely avoid this expense.
Keep in mind, if you’re just looking to replace your roof from wear and tear, you might be covered with your roof warranty if you have one.
What are the Benefits of Investing in a Slate Roof?
Choosing a roof can be a tough decision, and slate roofs are some of the most expensive on the market. But this high price tag isn’t unwarranted, as these roofs have some of the best benefits, as well. For one, slate roofs are the longest-lasting option available, with slate having a lifespan of up to 200 years with proper maintenance. Additionally, slate roofs are some of the most durable and resilient, able to easily withstand high winds, heat, impacts, rain, and other hazards.
Here are some additional benefits of slate roofs:
- Beauty: Slate roofs are known for their beauty. Natural stone has an elegant, distinguished look that most homeowners love. Not only does natural slate look impressive, but slate shingles come in various designs, styles, and colors, allowing you to customize the look of your roof.
- Environmental friendliness: Slate roofs are made from natural materials and can be recycled when replaced, keeping them out of landfills. Slate is as energy efficient as other roofing materials, meaning you won’t see an increase in your heating and cooling bills.
- Low maintenance: Slate roofs resist water damage, mold, mildew, wind, and general weathering. This resilience means they require much less upkeep and maintenance when compared to asphalt roofs or metal roofs.
- Fire-resistant: Slate roofing materials are the most fire-resistant options on the market, making them highly valued.
What Is the Professional Vs. DIY Slate Roof Installation Cost?
Most roofing projects require the trained expertise of a professional contractor, and slate roofs are even more difficult to install. Slate is a high-end, heavy-duty material that is extremely difficult to work with. Due to its weight, installation difficulty, and the special equipment needed to haul it, it’s functionally impossible for a homeowner to DIY a slate roof installation.
Hiring a Professional for a Slate Roof Installation
Finding the right roofing contractor can be difficult, but following these steps can make your search easier and more successful:
- Find local experts near you: Your best bet is to search specifically for slate roof installers over general contractors and roofers. Slate is a specialty material, and not everyone carries or installs it.
- Get a quote from a few options: It’s always a good idea to shop for multiple quotes before making your final decision. This way, you get to vet your contractors beforehand while finding the best price.
- Consult them about their recommendations: A slate roof installation isn’t like other roofing projects. You’ll need to talk with your roofer about any modifications to your roof’s structure and home’s supports.
- Consider if other options might suit your needs better: While slate is beautiful and long-lasting, other options, like hybrid slate, offer many of the same looks without the needed modification to your home.
So, Is a Slate Roof Worth the Cost?
Slate is one of the most impressive roofing materials on the market, but it has some downsides, too. Slate is heavy, expensive, and requires the work of trained professionals. However, its superb qualities are worth the investment: Slate roofs can last up to 200 years, plus they’re fireproof, durable, and require little to no maintenance.
These roofs should be seen as a long-term investment. While a $20,000 to $50,000 roof may sound like a high cost at first glance, you can pass it down to your children, and they to theirs, before it has to be replaced.
FAQs About Slate Roofs
Do slate roofs mold or rust?
Slate is a porous material that can grow mold, mildew, and algae, but this is rare and only occurs in climates with high moisture. Slate can also contain trace amounts of pyrite, which can cause slight discoloration and rust to form. In most cases, this rust is not harmful but can occasionally cause flaking and require the replacement of affected shingles.
Which is better, synthetic or natural slate?
Both synthetic and natural slate have their own advantages and disadvantages. Natural slate tile roofs are heavier and longer lasting but also heavier and pricier. Synthetic slate roofs are cheaper and easier to install, but it only lasts for a short time and is generally lower quality.
Does slate only come in gray?
No, slate comes in multiple colors, styles, and designs. Common slate colors include gray and black, with peach, purple, green, and blue shades.
How long does a slate roof last?
Soft slate can last between 50 and 100 years, and hard slate can last up to 200 years.