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How Much Does a Slate Roof Cost? (2024 Guide)

Average project cost: $30,000

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Author Icon Written by Angela Bunt Updated 03/25/2024

Slate roofs are common on historic buildings because of their distinctive look, but residential homes can also support this highly durable material. Though expensive to install, slate tiles or shingles can last 100 years or more. Read on to learn whether slate is the best type of roof for your home, how much it costs, and its pros and cons.

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What Is The Average Cost of a Slate Roof?

Installing a slate roof on a 1,500-square-foot home could cost as little as $7,500 for a synthetic slate roof to as much as $45,000 for natural slate. The average cost is around $30,000, with around 40% of the total going toward materials and 60% to labor. The following factors determine where your roofing project will fall within this price range.

  • Slate type: Natural slate is the most expensive, followed by hybrid and synthetic slate. 
  • Hardness: Harder slate roof shingles last longer and cost more. 
  • Roof size: Slate roofing materials are priced by the square foot, so larger roofs cost more to cover.
  • Labor: Professional installation is included in the sample prices since slate is best laid by roof pros.

Slate Roof Cost by Slate Type

Because roofing materials are so expensive, the type of slate you choose makes a big difference to the project’s total cost.

Slate TypeCost Range per Square Foot

Natural

$10–$30

Synthetic

$4–$12

Hybrid

$9–$16

Natural Slate

Natural slate is what most people probably think of when considering a slate roof: thin shingles of natural metamorphic stone. It’s the most durable slate material but also the heaviest and most expensive. Real slate can last 150–200 years. It’s resistant to mold growth, fading, and high temperatures. It’s also environmentally friendly and recyclable.

Synthetic Slate

Synthetic slate isn’t actually slate. It’s another roofing material that’s made to mimic the look of slate. Materials such as clay, ceramic, and concrete can be made to resemble slate, typically at a much lower cost and weight. The drawback is that a synthetic slate roof has a much shorter life span. Here are the costs of materials most commonly used to mimic slate.

Shingle MaterialCost Range per Square Foot

Ceramic/clay

$8–$11

Composite

$4–$8

Fiber cement

$5–$12

Rubber

$8–$11

Hybrid Slate

Hybrid slate contains some natural slate and some synthetic waterproof material. The synthetic material is hidden, so your roof appears like natural slate but weighs and costs less.

Slate Roof Cost by Hardness

There are two main types of natural slate tiles: hard and soft.

Slate Roof HardnessCost Range per Square Foot

Hard slate

$20–$30

Soft slate

$10–$30

Soft Slate

Soft slate shingles are less expensive than hard slate but less durable. They’re made from natural stone that’s easier to cut, shape, and install but will begin to deteriorate sooner. Soft slate can still last 50 to 100 years with proper maintenance.

Hard Slate

Hard slate tiles are comparable to marble or limestone on the mineral hardness scale. They can last up to 200 years but are significantly more expensive than other roofing materials.

Slate Roofing Cost by Roof Size

Your roof’s size determines both the amount of materials needed and how much work is required to install them. Here are some approximate price ranges by roof size, including materials and labor.

Roof Size in Square FeetCost Range

1,200

$12,000–$36,000

1,600

$16,000–$48,000

2,000

$20,000–$60,000

2,400

$24,000–$72,000

3,000

$30,000–$90,000

Labor Cost

The above price ranges include the cost of hiring a roofing contractor. In fact, labor makes up 50%–60% of the total installation price. Slate is a difficult material to work with and not recommended to handle yourself, so you’ll want to include labor in your budget in most cases.


What Are Signs That You Need to Replace Your Slate Roof?

Though slate is incredibly long-lasting, you’ll have to replace it eventually. Here are some signs that it’s time for roof repair or replacement.

  • Chipped, cracked, or broken shingles
  • Moisture damage in your attic or ceiling
  • Rusted flashing
  • Rot or sagging

Which Factors Affect the Cost of a Slate Roof?

Here are some additional factors that affect slate roofing costs.

Roofing companies usually do more than simply replace the underlayment and roof shingles. Because slate shingles are extremely heavy—particularly natural slate—most homes will need roof reinforcement before installation can begin. This can add $1,000–$10,000 to the total cost.

Any design elements in your roof that make it more complicated or time-consuming to work on will increase labor costs. Steep roofs require more caution. Roofs with many chimneys or other features require more flashing and more careful waterproofing.

If you’re replacing your roof, the roofer will need to tear out and dispose of the old roof, usually for about $2–$5 per square foot. Any damaged framework or flashing will also need to be fixed. Roof repair costs depend on your roof’s size and condition.

If your home is already set up to support a slate roof, replacing the slate roof tiles will be less costly than tearing off an existing roof and replacing it with entirely new material. This can cost $8–$16 per square foot, depending on the slate type you choose.

A slate roof requires relatively little maintenance. Cracked or chipped shingles are easy to fix if caught quickly, but extensive damage can be expensive. You should have your slate roof inspected at least once a year and cleaned by professional roof cleaners. Cleaning usually costs $0.30–$0.70 per square foot.


What Are Slate Roofing’s Pros and Cons

One of the biggest benefits of slate roofing is its long life span. If you install a new slate roof, you may never need a roof replacement in your lifetime. Slate is also fire-resistant and energy-efficient, helping you to regulate the temperatures in your home without high energy bills. Additionally, slate is an all-natural material that won’t clog landfills, and many people like its unique look.

Slate’s major downsides are that it’s expensive and heavy, weighing 8–10 pounds per square foot. Most homes aren’t set up to support that much weight on the roof and will need to be retrofitted. Slate is so difficult to install that many roofing companies don’t typically work with it, so you’ll probably need to hire a specialty company. All of this adds up to an expensive home improvement project.


How Does Slate Roofing Compare to Other Types of Roofing?

Slate roofs are fairly uncommon on non-historic homes and buildings in the United States. Here are some common alternatives and how they compare.

MaterialFormCost per Square FootLife Span in Years

Asphalt roof

Shingles

$4–$12

10–20

Ceramic roof

Clay tiles

$12–$24

50–100

Composite roof

Shingles

$7–$13

40–50

Concrete roof

Shingles

$11–$19

40–75

Metal roof

Sheets, shingles, panels

$5–$40

30–70

Wood roof

Cedar shingles, shakes

$8–$14

25–30

Asphalt shingles
Basic, three-tab shingles are the cheapest and most common option, beginning at $4.25 per square foot and going up to $8.25. Asphalt shingles can be made from a variety of materials. Fiberglass shingles are less expensive, while composite shingles made from recycled material are costlier.
Aluminum shingles
Aluminum is a step up from asphalt but not as pricey as tile or other metal options and is seen as an inexpensive metal roofing option. It is fairly resistant to saltwater corrosion. It ranges from $6.50-$21 a square foot when installed.
Cedar shingles or shakes
Cedar shingles and shakes are some of the most common types of wooden roofing material. Cedar shake roof cost is comparable to wood shingles and shakes that can also be made from spruce, redwood, pine, or other coniferous trees. Wooden roofs typically cost $6.53–$9.90 per square foot.
cedar roofing shingles
Clay and concrete tiles
Clay tile roofing is one of the oldest roofing materials. It’s eco-friendly, extremely durable, fire-resistant, and has great thermal properties, making it advantageous in hot climates or areas where wildfires are common. The cost of tile roofing is $5.90–$14.68 per square foot.
Copper tiles
Copper roofing is extremely durable, lightweight, and is one of the most unique-looking roofing options ranging from $20-$40 per square foot installed.
Flat roofing materials
Ethylene propylene diene terpolyme (EPDM) roofing is a type of synthetic rubber. It’s cheaper than many materials at $5.50–$7.50, but the labor to replace them usually costs more. 
Slate tiles
Slate tiles are not as common as they once were but are considered one of the most durable and trustworthy roofing materials, with a lifespan that can stretch from 75 – 150 years. They are not for everyone though, with a high cost of $7.56–$18.70 per square foot and can be too heavy for some roofs.
Standing seam metal panels
Standing seam panels are a metal roof option that will cost you considerably more than corrugated metal.
Steel shingles
Similar to aluminum, stainless steel shingles are more expensive than asphalt but mid-range for metal options. They range from $7 – $20 depending on the quality of steal used.
Zinc tiles
Zinc tiles are the second-most expensive metal roofing option because they’re less available and one of the most corrosion-resistant roofing material. The price of zinc tiles ranges from $14.50-$21 per square foot when installed.

Should You Use a Professional vs. DIY Slate Roofing Installation?

New roofs are expensive, and you may be tempted to save money by doing the project yourself. Unfortunately, that’s usually not possible with slate.

Professional Slate Roof Installation

You don’t want to hire just any roofing contractor to install a slate roof. This is a unique project that requires roofers who specialize in slate. Professionals will have experience preparing roof structures for the material’s significant weight. They’ll also know how to lift heavy tiles up to your roof and install them without damaging the material or risking their safety.

DIY Slate Roof Installation

Even if you’re willing to risk your safety to work on the roof, slate roof installation isn’t a do-it-yourself (DIY) job. You’d need to first reinforce your roof’s structure, and you’d need substantial help just to lift the shingles into place. Slate is also brittle and doesn’t support weight very well, so it’s difficult to walk across the shingles without breaking them. If you can’t afford labor costs to install a slate roof, consider less expensive, more DIY-friendly roofing options such as asphalt shingles.


How To Save Money on a Slate Roof

Though you can’t save money by installing a slate roof yourself, here are some other ways to reduce costs:

  • Slate is expensive to ship. If you live in an area where it’s mined (like the northeastern United States or southern Canada), slate might already be less expensive for you because of reduced shipping costs.
  • If you love the look but can’t afford natural slate, look into hybrid or synthetic materials, which cost less and are easier to install.
  • Consider installing soft slate instead of hard slate. It costs less and still lasts for decades.
  • If you’re replacing an existing roof, see if you can tear off and dispose of the old materials yourself.
  • Get quotes from at least three roofing pros with experience installing slate shingles.

How Does Slate Roof Replacement Work?

Unless you’re building a new home, you’ll probably be replacing an existing, non-slate roof. If this is the case, you or the roofing contractor will need to remove and dispose of the old shingles, underlayment, and other materials. Then, the contractor will carefully inspect the roof structure to ensure it can support the slate tiles’ weight. To help bear the weight of slate shingles, the contractor may need to add key parts of a roof, like support beams or trusses, increasing the cost of roof repair. After that, they can put down the new flashing and underlayment, followed by the actual slate tiles.


Our Conclusion

A natural slate roof is a big investment, but if you choose quality slate and hire an experienced roofer, you’ll have a roof that could last for centuries. Weigh your budget against your home’s needs to decide whether this is the right roofing material for you.

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FAQ About Slate Roofs

How expensive is a slate roof?

A slate roof costs an average of $30,000, though you may pay $45,000 or more for a large roof with high-end materials. Natural slate tiles cost $10–$30 per square foot of roof space.

Is a slate roof worth it?

Slate roofs can last 50–200 years, so if you have the budget to install one, it’s highly cost-effective.

What are the pros and cons of slate roofs?

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Fireproof and weather-resistant
  • Energy-efficient and recyclable

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Difficult to install
  • Very heavy

How long does a slate roof last?

Soft slate can last 50–100 years. Hard slate can last 75–200 years. Slate shingles will require specialty cleaning but are otherwise fairly low-maintenance.

How do you install a slate roof?

To install a slate roof, you first need to reinforce the roof’s structure so it can bear the slate shingles’ weight. You may need to add support beams or trusses before putting down the new flashing and underlayment, followed by the actual slate tiles. Installing a slate roof isn’t a DIY job. It’s wise to contact a roofing contractor who has specific experience installing slate tiles.

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