Why natural slate is still king

Slate isn’t the only roofing, flooring and cladding material out there. In fact, over the decades, a whole range of alternatives have emerged and tried to take its crown. But natural slate is still the longest-lasting, best-looking, and, over time, by far the most cost-effective.

Interested in using natural slate as your roofing material of choice? Have a browse of our brochure to find out more.

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Incomparable aesthetics and the strength to last a lifetime

Man-made materials might have a lower upfront cost, but none come close to matching the timeless looks of pristine natural slate – and what’s more, slate alternatives like fibre cement, concrete and clay tiles will need replacing several times during the 100-year lifespan of quality natural slate.

St Pauls Church

St Pauls Church

Lifetime cost of slate

Fibre cement tiles cost around £18 per square metre, around £15 per square metre to install, and last approximately 30 years. That equals a cost of £1.10 a year per square metre.

Clay tiles cost around £40 per square metre, £15 to install, and last 40 years, equalling £1.25 per square metre.

At SSQ, our standard natural slates cost £22 per square metre, around £20 per square metre to install, and last 50 years – resulting in a total life-cycle cost of 84p per metre.

But our premium slate delivers the lowest of all – the material itself costs £45 per square metre, the labour costs around £15, and it can last 100 years if not longer. That equals a life-cycle cost of just 60p per metre.

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Slate’s green credentials

When it comes to embodied carbon – in effect, a material’s carbon footprint – natural slate is the clear winner.

Concrete tiles create 0.19kg of CO² per kilogram.

Clay tiles are worse – they produce 0.43kg per kilo.

Natural slate, however, contains far less – between 0.005-0.054kg per kilo.

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St Pauls Church
Penyland Barn

All natural slate

Natural slate requires remarkably little processing. The slate is quarried with low-power electric diamond cutters, and a lot of the splitting is still done by hand. Manufacturing other materials is a lot more industrial. To make clay tiles, for example, kilns are kept burning 24 hours a day, with inevitable impacts on the environment.

How much is Spanish slate UK?

Spanish slate is a roofing material that is well-liked in the UK and Ireland due to its exceptional quality and durability. The material cost of Spanish slate varies depending on its quality, size, and thickness. In contrast, fibre cement tiles cost about £18 per square metre and have an installation cost of around £15 per square metre. These tiles have a lifespan of around 30 years, resulting in an annual cost of approximately £1.10 per square metre.

On the other hand, clay tiles cost around £40 per square metre, with an installation cost of £15 per square metre and they last for 40 years. This translates to an annual cost of about £1.25 per square metre. Spanish slate can last up to 100 years or more, resulting in an annual cost as low as 25p per square metre.

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Testimonials

The choice of slates was made easier due to the quality of product you provide and the support of Gary Firth throughout the process – which I much appreciate. Gary is a good ambassador for your company.

Pat Murray, Senior Project Engineer, Alvance Group

Testimonials

Everyone liked Sarria: the client was delighted with its appearance and its consistency made it easy to cut and lay.

Gary Lambert, Complete Roofing Contractors

Testimonials

SSQ Matacouta slate was chosen as the most sympathetic option. Its consistency and competitive price make it a clear winner over indigenous slates.

Historic Scotland

Testimonials

We specified SSQ First Domiz Blue-grey roofing slate for both technical and aesthetic reasons:its strength and quality gives the performance needed and its cold, hard, colour provides a dramatic foil to the rich warmth of the western red cedar walls.

Mark Webber, Architect, Nichols Brown Webber

Testimonials

The choice of SSQ Del Carmen was made easier after confirmation that it had gained approval for use in the Welsh National Parks as an alternative to indigenous materials. We were also pleased with the level of technical, design and on-site support we received from SSQ.

The Hafod Renewal Office

Testimonials

The quality and strength were there, the colour was similar to indigenous Welsh slate and its ‘traditional’ look was in keeping with the surrounding community. In fact, as I had used it on my own Edwardian house, I knew it was a good slate!

Julian Bohling, OSP Architecture

Testimonials

SSQ Ultra Del Carmen slates come with a 75-year guarantee and that was important. Not only that, the on-site services promised – and delivered – by SSQ enabled a smooth and easy workflow.

Stuart Howes, Architect

Testimonials

It is a very attractive development and we needed something equally attractive and of equally high quality for the roofing material. SSQ Del Carmen slate is top quality, and we liked the colour and texture. What’s more, it is very good value. I’d have no hesitation choosing it again.

Mr Keith Wills, Clancy's Building Manager

Testimonials

With so many ‘interested parties’ the local planners set their minds on a natural slate roof at a very early stage of the project and, from this starting point, we needed something that would satisfy a number of technical and aesthetic requirements – SSQ Domiz blue-grey, was the one chosen for use to compliment the local ‘Shere Green’ colour.

Ben Hunt, Total Project Integration

Testimonials

Being both high quality and cost-effective, Matacouta slate from SSQ is proving very popular with specifiers and contractors alike for refurbishment as well as for new build projects.

Mr Roy Clark, Baxter Clark and Paul

Testimonials

With the roofs being such a visible feature, the choice of roofing slate was a significant decision. We involved the roofing contractor at an early stage in the selection process and they recommended SSQ’s Del Carmen Blue-black slates. Although it’s not an indigenous slate, it is an excellent match for the originals and, having used Spanish slate on other projects, we know the quality is there.

Richard Thorpe, Ridge and Partners LLP

Testimonials

SSQ Rocaber Blue-grey slate was actually chosen at the initial design-concept stage. A natural slate roof was in keeping with the traditional local architecture.

Tom Ewan, Architect at Model Developments

Case Study

In with the new: SSQ’s Del Carmen restores Southampton University library

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Millbridge Primary School

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