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ROOFING INSPECTION & REPAIR
AMERICAN CEMWOOD ROOFING
BEST ROOFING PRACTICES
BUILT UP ROOFS
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CERTIFICATIONS for ROOFING CONTRACTORS
CHIMNEY FLASHING Mistakes & Leaks
COLD WEATHER ROOF TROUBLE
DECKS, ROOFTOP CONSTRUCTION
EPDM, RUBBER, PVC ROOFING
EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING on SHINGLES
FIRE RETARDANT PLYWOOD
FLASHING on BUILDINGS
FLAT ROOF MOISTURE & CONDENSATION
Green House or Solarium Roof Leaks
HEAT TAPES & CABLES on Roofs for Ice Dams
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
MASONITE WOODRUF FIBERBOARD ROOFING
NOISE CONTROL for ROOFS
PLASTIC ROOFING TYPES
PVC, EPDM, RUBBER ROOFING
ROOF ARCHITECTURAL STYLES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF CLEANING RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF COLOR RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF INSPECTION SAFETY & LIMITS
ROOF LEAK DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
ROOF NOISE TRANSMISSION
ROOF REPLACEMENT SNAFUs
ROOFING FELT UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS
ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types
SADDLE CONSTRUCTION at CHIMNEYS
SNOW GUARDS & SNOW BRAKES
STANDARDS for ROOFING
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
TEST LABS - ROOF SHINGLE
TREES & SHRUBS, TRIM OFF BUILDING
TRUSSES, Floor & Roof
UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS on ROOFS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALK-ON ROOF SURFACES
WARRANTIES for ROOF SHINGLES
WORKMANSHIP & ROOF DAMAGE
Roofing slate colors & chemistry: a quick guide. Because the properties, including durability, of roofing slates vary widely, and because the properties of roofing slates depend largely on the quarry from which the slate originated, it is worth knowing what you can probably expect from a roofing slate by its appearance and color. Appearance and color are not substitutes for a chemical analysis of the slate, but they can often tell us quickly about the slate's probable source and about how long it is likely to last. This series of detailed slate roof inspection and repair articles describes procedures for evaluating the condition of slate roofing. How to inspect, identify defects, and estimate remaining life of slate roofs are addressed. The article series also references slate repair procedures, repair slate sources, and slate quarries. We also provide slate sources and where to buy slate roofing materials and slate roofing tools and products.
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Alan Carson and Dan Friedman are ASHI Members, home inspectors, educators and writers in Toronto and Poughkeepsie respectively. Information in this article is taken from the references shown below, from inspection experience, from opinions shared at ASHI and other education seminars, from the authors' personal, limited experience repairing and rebuilding of slate roofs, and from very helpful Bill Markcrow and Doug Sheldon at Vermont Structural Slate Co.
We also paraphrased from a presentation to NY Metro ASHI Members by Mr. Steven Trapasso in October, 1990. Mr. Trapasso has 40 years experience in working with slate, and has a clear love affair with the material, particularly when it comes from Vermont.
Basic slate roofing colors, their composition, and their sources
Basic roofing slate colors are black, blue-black, gray, blue-gray, purple, mottled purple and green, green, and red. These color names should be preceded by designations of "unfading" or "weathering" (discussed later). Color is determined by variations in chemical and mineral composition.
The mineral composition of the shale from which slates are cut varies significantly among quarries and from state to state in the US. The primary constituents are white and black mica.
See later details in this article. A detailed procedure for analysis of slates was documented in US Geological Survey Bulletin #700, "The Analysis of Silicate and Carbonate Rocks", by Dr. W.F. Hillebrand.
Virginia roofing slate colors & characteristics
Virginia Roofing Slate is blue-gray in color, tough, durable, and considered a top quality material by most slate sources. This slate is notable for a peculiar luster giving attractive lights and shadows on roofs.
Vermont roofing slate colors & characteristics
Vermont roofing slate is typically green with purple, black, and red available. Vermont green slate is the most abundant, with well developed cleavage (easy to split into roofing slates), with good "fissibility" (relatively easy to work), making it the most common variety used.
Slate from Vermont is lower in lime content than the Pennsylvania variety. Chemical composition of slates varies of course by quarry as does slate color. Slates are available in both fading and non-fading varieties. In Vermont slate fading color is not considered an indication of deterioration. Rather it's an aesthetic factor.
Blue-gray Pennsylvania roofing slate colors & characteristics
Pennsylvania blue-gray slate is possibly the best known and most widely distributed of the common slate colors. Some architects and roofers call these slates Pennsylvania black. But as "Black-Bed" slates, a less durable material, might be confused with the better quality Pennsylvania material, the blue-gray name should be used.
Unfading Pennsylvania gray roofing slate color, appearance, characteristics
Gray and Grey-Black roofing slates, where they are from, and their characteristics
Gray and gray-black roofing slates are quarried in Vermont and parts of New York. The gray is lighter than the Pennsylvania blue-gray. You may find it mixed with purple. Gray-black is quarried in both light and dark grays, some with a mottled effect. Unfading green, weathering green, unfading purple, unfading mottled purple and green, variegated purple have been quarried in Vermont and New York.
Unfading red roofing slate, where it is quarried, and its wear characteristics
Freak slate colors, what are "freak roofing slates"?
If you find slate which is not one of these colors it's a "freak". It would be rare to find a freak which was quarried thinner than 1/4", usually in greater thickness up to 2". Some are not true slates in every quality and may not be salvageable when worn or on roofs in poor condition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) the chemistry of roof shingles
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