Slate Roof vs. Asphalt Shingles

10 minutes

Every homeowner faces the inevitable decision of selecting the ideal roofing material. While there are diverse options in the market, asphalt and slate shingles consistently top the list of popular choices. These materials not only determine the longevity and durability of your roof but also influence the overall aesthetic appeal and resale value of your home. But with each possessing its distinct characteristics, how do you decide which is the right fit for your home? 

Slate Roof vs Shingle Roofs 

Asphalt shingles, often celebrated for their cost-effectiveness and ease of installation, have been a staple in many households. On the other hand, slate shingles, renowned for their timeless beauty and long lifespan, offer homeowners a touch of elegance. Beyond these primary considerations, there is also the matter of initial costs, differences in installation techniques, building requirements, and environmental impact. In this comprehensive blog post, we will dissect each aspect, from longevity and durability to aesthetics and eco-friendliness, giving you a holistic view to make an informed decision. 


When examining the resilience and ruggedness of roofing materials, both asphalt and slate shingles present unique attributes. Asphalt shingles have a broad appeal due to their ability to cope with various weather conditions. They are treated to resist UV rays, and many modern variants come with special granules that repel algae growth, addressing one of the frequent issues that compromise asphalt’s longevity. However, their Achilles’ heel lies in their vulnerability to extreme temperature fluctuations; they can warp in intense heat and become brittle in extreme cold, which can lead to cracking.  

On the other hand, slate shingles epitomize endurance. Being a natural stone, slate possesses an innate resistance to the elements. It does not warp in heat, nor does it become brittle in the cold. This resistance extends to moisture, making slate shingles less susceptible to mold or algae growth. Their sturdy nature also makes them highly resistant to hail and other forms of impact. One of the primary concerns with slate, however, is its weight and the potential for breakage if stepped on or if heavy debris falls on the roof. But when it comes to sheer resistance to environmental wear and tear, slate often stands supreme. 

While asphalt offers a versatile and economical roofing solution, its durability can be compromised under extreme conditions. In contrast, slate provides a near-fortress level of resistance, making it a top choice for those seeking longevity and durability.  


When it comes to the expected lifespan of roofing materials, the difference between asphalt and slate shingles is substantial. Asphalt shingles, the more common of the two, typically offer a lifespan ranging from 20 to 30 years, depending on the quality, maintenance, and local weather conditions. Factors such as intense UV exposure, severe storms, or frequent temperature fluctuations can reduce this expected lifespan. Over time, asphalt shingles may lose their granules, curl, or even warp, signaling the need for a roof replacement. 

In stark contrast, slate shingles are often viewed as a generational roofing choice. Crafted from natural stone, slate roofs can last anywhere from 75 to 200 years, sometimes even longer with proper care. This remarkable longevity owes much to slate’s inherent qualities: it is highly resistant to weathering, does not fade from UV rays, and remains impervious to extremes of heat or cold. While slate’s upfront cost is significantly higher than asphalt, its longevity can offset that initial investment, making it a wise choice for homeowners planning to stay in their homes for decades or those looking to boost the property’s value with a long-lasting roofing solution. 

While asphalt shingles provide a reliable and cost-effective roofing solution for several decades, slate shingles stand as a testament to time, often outlasting the very structures they protect.  

Aesthetic Differences 

Synonymous with versatility, asphalt shingles come in a myriad of colors, styles, and textures. This wide range of options enables homeowners to match their roof with the existing architecture and design of their home or to emulate more expensive roofing materials. Many of the higher-end architectural or laminated asphalt shingles are designed to mimic the look of wood shakes, tile, or even slate, though upon closer inspection, the differences are discernible. Generally, the texture of asphalt shingles is more uniform and flat, even when they are designed to mimic other materials. 

Slate exudes an air of timeless elegance and natural beauty. Each slate tile is unique, displaying a range of color variations, from muted grays and blacks to rich greens, purples, and even reds, depending on the quarry and region of origin. The natural texture and color variances give slate roofs a distinct character and depth that is hard to replicate. Slate roofs have been used for centuries in historical and luxury homes, often associated with a sophisticated and stately appearance. The stone’s natural sheen can also catch and reflect sunlight in a way that asphalt cannot, giving it a distinctive glow during certain times of the day. 

Installation Differences 

Asphalt shingles are often chosen for their relative ease of installation. Being lightweight, they do not necessitate the structural reinforcement that heavier materials might demand. This simplicity extends to the installation process itself: their flexibility and standardized sizes mean roofing teams can quickly lay them down, often finishing an average-sized home within a day or two. An underlayment, typically of felt or a synthetic material, is rolled out first to provide an added layer of protection. The shingles are then nailed atop this layer, with modern pneumatic nail guns streamlining the process. A boon for homeowners is the ease of repair; damaged asphalt shingles can be individually removed and replaced without major disruption. 

Conversely, the installation of slate shingles is a more intricate endeavor. First and foremost, slate is heavy. Before even considering installation, a home’s structural integrity and capability to bear the weight of a slate roof must be assessed. Often, additional support is necessary. Laying down slate requires a craftsman’s touch. Each slate tile is unique, varying slightly in size and thickness. This means each tile must be carefully positioned and secured using copper or stainless-steel nails, to avoid over-tightening which could crack the stone. Furthermore, because of the natural variability in slate tiles, achieving a uniform look requires sorting and planning before they are affixed. While slate’s longevity is a clear advantage, any needed repairs or replacements demand specialized skills, making them a bit more involved than with their asphalt counterparts. 

Building Requirements  

For asphalt shingles, the focus is often on the roof’s structure and pitch. A minimum roof pitch—usually around a 2:12 ratio—is essential for asphalt to ensure effective water runoff. Too flat a pitch, and the risk of water infiltration increases. Underlayment, typically a layer of felt or a synthetic material, must be uniformly laid out to provide a smooth base, further bolstering protection against potential leaks. Ventilation is also key when using asphalt shingles. A well-ventilated attic helps regulate temperatures, preventing the overheating of shingles in summer and ice dam formation in winter. While asphalt shingles are lightweight, the roof decking should still be in good condition, free of rot or damage, to support the shingles and fasteners. 

Conversely, when it comes to slate shingles, the weight of the material is the foremost consideration. Slate is substantially heavier than asphalt, necessitating a thorough evaluation of the home’s structural integrity. Additional reinforcements or modifications to the existing roof trusses or rafters may be required to bear the weight of a slate roof. Like asphalt, slate also demands proper underlayment, but due to its weight and longevity, more durable options like heavy-duty felt or synthetic products are often chosen. The roof’s pitch for slate is crucial too, not just for water runoff, but also to ensure the tiles remain securely in place. A steeper pitch, typically starting at 4:12 or greater, is usually recommended for slate.  


Slate shingles often stand out for their low-impact manufacturing process. Being a naturally occurring stone, slate requires minimal processing, primarily involving cutting and shaping, which contrasts sharply with the more energy-intensive and chemically reliant production of other materials. The absence of chemicals and synthetic inputs means less environmental pollution. Furthermore, slate’s long lifespan—sometimes spanning over a century—ensures fewer roof replacements, reducing the frequency of resource extraction and waste generation. When it comes to end-of-life considerations, slate’s natural composition allows it to be repurposed or returned to the earth without leaving a synthetic footprint. 

Conversely, asphalt shingles, though popular and cost-effective, have more significant environmental caveats. The manufacturing process for asphalt shingles involves petroleum products, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and relying on non-renewable resources. Additionally, the shorter lifespan of asphalt compared to slate results in more frequent roof replacements, leading to higher consumption rates and waste generation over the same time. On a brighter note, strides have been made in asphalt shingle recycling. Instead of ending up in landfills, recycled asphalt shingles can be repurposed for road construction, reducing waste, and offsetting the need for new asphalt in infrastructure projects. 

Slate Roof vs. Shingle Cost 

Cost can be a significant determining factor for homeowners and builders when choosing between asphalt and slate shingles. Both materials come with their distinct price points and value propositions. Let us break down the cost differences:  

Asphalt shingles are widely favored in many residential projects due to their cost-effectiveness. On average, the price per square foot for asphalt shingles ranges from a low cost for basic 3-tab shingles to a moderate price for architectural or laminated varieties. Factors that affect this cost include the specific brand, quality, and any added features like UV protection or algae resistance. Installation costs for asphalt are lower, given the ease and speed of laying them down, which further cements their reputation as an affordable roofing solution. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, slate shingles are seen as a premium roofing option, and their cost reflects this distinction. The price per square foot for genuine slate is considerably higher than for asphalt, sometimes by a factor of five or more. Factors influencing slate’s cost include its origin (with some imported varieties being pricier), color, thickness, and quality. Additionally, because slate is heavy and requires specialized skills for installation, labor costs for slate roofing projects can be significantly higher than for asphalt. However, it is essential to factor in slate roof’s longevity; its higher upfront cost may be offset over time as the roof can last multiple generations with proper care. 

Contact the Roofing Pros at DaBella 

We proudly offer our homeowners the unmatched quality of GAF architectural asphalt shingles, renowned for their stellar combination of durability and aesthetic appeal. Why settle for anything but the best? Asphalt shingles not only come with an appealing price tag but also boast a myriad of benefits. From their versatility in design to their inherent resistance against the elements, they have become a staple for discerning homeowners. 

With DaBella, however, the advantages do not stop at top-tier materials. Our vast selection of customizable options are tailored to bring out the unique character of your home. Whether you are aiming for a modern minimalist look or leaning towards a classic aesthetic, we have the perfect solution waiting for you. And remember, with over a decade in the roofing industry, our experience is our hallmark. We have weathered storms, embraced innovations, and, above all, we have transformed countless houses into homes. 

So, as you contemplate giving your home the protective upgrade it deserves, remember that DaBella is not just offering a roof replacement; we are offering a promise of excellence. Step into the future of roofing. Contact DaBella today at 844-DaBella and redefine your home’s skyline.


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Steven Shortridge

District Manager

Portland, OR

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