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Slate is a form of rock that formed from a sediment that dates back approximately 300 million years. Over time, layers of sediment bound together as they were heated by geothermal activity until they eventually lay so closely together they formed into rock.

“The interesting thing about these original layers is that they still remain when the rock is quarried, and it is this that allows slate to be so finely and evenly split,” Macmillan Slaters and Tilers’ Jarrod Gillespie says.

Determining the Quality of Slate

“That’s how you can tell a good quality slate from a poor quality one; it’s in the layers. A good quality slate will split evenly across the whole slab whereas a poor quality one will vary in thickness.”

Using a poor quality slate can be disastrous, primarily because it is a premium product with an associated price tag. “If you use a poor quality slate, when it is laid, it won’t be flat and it can cause aesthetic or waterproofing issues because of the size inequality,” Jarrod says.

 

Slate is a form of rock that formed from a sediment that dates back approximately 300 million years. Over time, layers of sediment bound together as they were heated by geothermal activity until they eventually lay so closely together they formed into rock.

“The interesting thing about these original layers is that they still remain when the rock is quarried, and it is this that allows slate to be so finely and evenly split,” Macmillan Slaters and Tilers’ Jarrod Gillespie says.

Determining the Quality of Slate

“That’s how you can tell a good quality slate from a poor quality one; it’s in the layers. A good quality slate will split evenly across the whole slab whereas a poor quality one will vary in thickness.”

Using a poor quality slate can be disastrous, primarily because it is a premium product with an associated price tag. “If you use a poor quality slate, when it is laid, it won’t be flat and it can cause aesthetic or waterproofing issues because of the size inequality,” Jarrod says.

 

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Slate quality comes down to the quality controls in place in each quarry, and the veracity of those in each phase of the quarrying. “As you move down through a quarry and hit different veins of the slate, you need to keep checking its quality because it can vary, which is why it is so important to have excellent quality control processes in place at all times.”

Macmillan Slaters and Tilers sources slate primarily from England, Wales, some European countries, and the United States. There are various standards systems in place around the world to qualify the quality of slate. In America, the best quality slate is known as S1; in the United Kingdom the premium slate is called T1, and in France it is A Class. “We ensure that all slate we bring into New Zealand has been classed in one of these top standards,” Jarrod says.

 

 

Slate quality comes down to the quality controls in place in each quarry, and the veracity of those in each phase of the quarrying. “As you move down through a quarry and hit different veins of the slate, you need to keep checking its quality because it can vary, which is why it is so important to have excellent quality control processes in place at all times.”

Macmillan Slaters and Tilers sources slate primarily from England, Wales, some European countries, and the United States. There are various standards systems in place around the world to qualify the quality of slate. In America, the best quality slate is known as S1; in the United Kingdom the premium slate is called T1, and in France it is A Class. “We ensure that all slate we bring into New Zealand has been classed in one of these top standards,” Jarrod says.

 

 

Versatile Stone Material

Slate itself is a relatively versatile material in terms of aesthetic function and design outcome, primarily because of its ability to be split into very fine tiles, or used in the more traditional thicker format. In the very early days of slate – which date back to around 1283 – large bits were pulled from the ground and split into what were essentially slabs. These were then used on roofs in that raw form, a very dangerous method due to the slabs’ immense weight.

However, it is that very traditional look that people sometimes try to recreate with modern slate, which today, is often cut into what Jarrod describes as ‘chunkier’ tiles, generally around 12mm thick, to create that heavier aesthetic.

“The great thing about slate though is that it really can be used across the board to create everything from the very traditional aesthetic through to a contemporary look with thin-format tiles just 4.5mm in thickness.”

Versatile Stone Material

Slate itself is a relatively versatile material in terms of aesthetic function and design outcome, primarily because of its ability to be split into very fine tiles, or used in the more traditional thicker format. In the very early days of slate – which date back to around 1283 – large bits were pulled from the ground and split into what were essentially slabs. These were then used on roofs in that raw form, a very dangerous method due to the slabs’ immense weight.

However, it is that very traditional look that people sometimes try to recreate with modern slate, which today, is often cut into what Jarrod describes as ‘chunkier’ tiles, generally around 12mm thick, to create that heavier aesthetic.

“The great thing about slate though is that it really can be used across the board to create everything from the very traditional aesthetic through to a contemporary look with thin-format tiles just 4.5mm in thickness.”

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While slate remains a sought after premium product, there is good reason for it be at the top. “If you use a good quality slate, you can expect it to last and perform well for a minimum of 100 years,” Jarrod says. “And in regards to maintenance, if it is installed correctly, there is zero maintenance required for at least 75 years.”

This seems like a big statement, but if you have a look around some of Auckland’s eastern suburbs, many homes still bear their original roofs – roofs installed more than 100 years ago.

Get in touch with Macmillan Slaters and Tilers here to discuss the possibilities of slate in more detail, and for a feast of visual inspiration about what you can achieve with this age-old material.

While slate remains a sought after premium product, there is good reason for it be at the top. “If you use a good quality slate, you can expect it to last and perform well for a minimum of 100 years,” Jarrod says. “And in regards to maintenance, if it is installed correctly, there is zero maintenance required for at least 75 years.”

This seems like a big statement, but if you have a look around some of Auckland’s eastern suburbs, many homes still bear their original roofs – roofs installed more than 100 years ago.

Get in touch with Macmillan Slaters and Tilers here to discuss the possibilities of slate in more detail, and for a feast of visual inspiration about what you can achieve with this age-old material.

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