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Slate Roofing in New Orleans

A Century-Long Legacy of Durability and Elegance


As a seasoned roofing contractor based in New Orleans, I understand the unique architectural and climatic considerations that homeowners in this city face. When it comes to roofing materials that offer both durability and aesthetic appeal, slate stands in a league of its own. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of slate roofing, its historical relevance in New Orleans, and why it could be the perfect choice for your home.

The Timeless Appeal of Slate

What is Slate?
Slate is a natural stone that is quarried or mined and then hand-split into shingles. As Joe Jenkins, an industry expert, pointed out in his presentation at the International Roofing Expo 2012, slate has been used in the U.S. for over 160 years with great success.

Why Choose Slate:

  • Longevity: One of the most compelling reasons to opt for slate is its longevity. A well-installed slate roof can last for over a century.
  • Aesthetic Versatility: Slate comes in various types and colors, allowing for a wide range of architectural styles.
  • Durability: Slate is highly resistant to extreme weather conditions, making it particularly suitable for the varied climate of New Orleans.

Technical Considerations for Slate Roofing

The Three Pillars: Slate, Substrate, and Fasteners
According to Jenkins, a slate roof essentially requires three components: the slate itself, a substrate for the nails to fasten into, and the fasteners.

Headlap is Critical
Headlap is the overlap each slate course has on the slates two courses below. Jenkins emphasizes that understanding headlap is critical to successfully installing a slate roof. Incorrect headlap can lead to water leakage and may even require the entire roof to be replaced.

Flashing Techniques
Proper flashing is crucial for the longevity of a slate roof. Copper or stainless steel are the recommended materials for flashing, and it’s vital to either fold or solder corner joints to prevent leakage.

Historical Relevance of Slate Roofing in New Orleans

Slate roofing has a long history in New Orleans, complementing the city’s diverse architectural styles, from Creole cottages to grand mansions. The material’s durability makes it particularly suitable for the city’s humid climate and occasional extreme weather events.

The Architectural Harmony
Slate roofing has been a part of New Orleans’ architectural landscape for generations. Its compatibility with various architectural styles—be it French Colonial, Greek Revival, or Victorian—makes it a versatile choice for homeowners.

The Resilience Factor
New Orleans is no stranger to extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes. The durability and resilience of slate roofing have proven to be invaluable in such scenarios, often outlasting other roofing materials.

The Installation Process

Pre-Installation Homework
Before embarking on the installation process, it’s crucial to do your homework. As Jenkins advises, there is a wealth of information available online and in print, including his own Slate Roof Bible and Traditional Roofing Magazine.

Roof Slope and Design
The slope of your roof plays a significant role in the effectiveness of a slate roof. Jenkins recommends a slope of 4:12 or greater, with 8:12 or greater being preferred.

Professional Flashing Techniques
Flashing is an art in itself. Using professional techniques can make a world of difference in the longevity and effectiveness of your slate roof. Jenkins suggests using copper or stainless steel for flashing and either folding or soldering corner joints to prevent leakage.

FAQs About Slate Roofing in New Orleans

How much does a slate roof cost?
The initial cost can be higher than other roofing materials, but considering its longevity, it’s a wise long-term investment.

Right now the market is anywhere between $3,000 per square and $4,500 per square – depending on the complexity and scope of the project.

Can I walk on a slate roof?
It’s advisable not to walk on slate roofs as they can crack or break under foot traffic.

What is the best way to maintain a slate roof?
Regular inspections and timely repairs are key. Jenkins also recommends avoiding excessive underlayments that can inhibit routine maintenance.


Slate roofing in New Orleans offers an unparalleled blend of durability and aesthetic appeal. Its historical relevance and technical superiority make it an ideal choice for homeowners seeking a long-lasting and elegant roofing solution. With proper installation and maintenance, a slate roof can be a century-long legacy, enhancing the beauty and value of your New Orleans home.

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