SSQ’s technical director Richard Cook on the strengths of Riverstone phyllite.

For the best part of the last two decades, SSQ’s Riverstone phyllite has become one of the world’s most sought-after roofing materials, partly for its first-class performance but also for its versatility.

Riverstone can excel in heritage contexts, offering the same pronounced grain, low water absorption and low calcium carbonate content as indigenous slate, but with even greater strength and weather resistance.  But its distinctive phyllitic sheen, longevity and comprehensive guarantees have also seen it become hugely popular for new-builds too.

The beauty of its unmistakable grey colouring is that it looks perfectly in keeping with historic properties – but can also blend seamlessly with the sleek look of modern architecture.

Modern and traditional

That was one of the key reasons it was selected for use on an ambitious new-build in Stalbridge, Dorset.

Homeowner John Tuner wanted a material with character to roof the elegant and gently curved new-build, blending equally well with the property’s sleek lines and its leafy West Country surroundings.

It was a search that took him to trade shows and exhibitions around the area, until, at West Point Exeter, he encountered SSQ regional director Damion Fearnley. John was immediately impressed with Damion’s knowledge and enthusiasm as he was introduced to a variety of high-quality natural roofing materials – including Riverstone.

Like an increasing number of high- end self-build projects, John’s sought to combine elements of modern design with more traditional materials, to create something that was characterful and unique, without clashing with other properties in the area. He loved Riverstone’s colour and texture, and also thought it would partner extremely well with the building’s oak framing. He opted for small format slates to add to the aesthetics – and few would deny that the finished results look stunning.

Extensively tested

However, there’s a lot more to Riverstone than just looks.

Critical to its popularity in locations around the globe has been its long life expectancy, proven track record, and the comprehensive support offered by SSQ. Riverstone has been extensively tested to the world’s strictest and most respected standards for natural stone.

After rigorous assessment by experts in the field, it has achieved W1-T1-S1 classification, the highest result possible, in the UK’s BS EN 12326 testing. It has achieved Grade S1, again the highest result possible, when tested to the US: ASTM C 406 standard.

Riverstone also demonstrates exceptionally low water absorption, far outperforming test requirements. It can withstand extreme freeze-thaw cycling, as well as salt exposure, that can weaken more absorbent slates. It exhibits excellent resistance to acid and weather damage, making it suitable for the harshest of climates, and is nearly impervious to atmospheric pollutants.

It’s that excellent all-round performance, combined with its availability in large quantities, and 100-year labour-backed guarantee, that’s made Riverstone so sought after around the world.

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