Working with My Hands Brings Me Joy

« Back to Home

Green Roof Battles: Slate Vs. Cedar

Posted on

The quest to live life in an environmentally friendly way should begin at home. By trying to use natural resources in a home, you can reduce your energy consumption and help to conserve earth's resources, but how do you choose between natural materials? Making such a close requires a close look at the facts: 

Where Do They Come From?

The more there is processing involved in making a product, the worse impact it has on the environment. Thus, when you are trying to make a choice between slate or cedar, you have to look at where each product comes from.

Cedar: Some cedar shingles are harvested from healthy forests, but what does that really mean? Be it remembered that even forest trees have a lifespan. When these trees die, they can take up space in the forest and serve as fodder for the next forest fire. Today's loggers harvest mature trees and then replant new trees in their place. Thus, cedar shingles are harvested in an environmentally friendly way, but large logging operations tend to involve a lot of equipment and personnel.

Shale: As a metamorphic rock, slate must be cut from a quarry. Once large blocks of rock have been extracted from the quarry, they are split along natural cleavage planes to form shingles. While quarrying may require cutting down some trees depending on the site, there is not a lot of processing or equipment involved, so it is still an environmentally friendly choice for a home. 


Another concern when choosing a roofing material is how long it will last. After all, the more often you have to replace your roof, the more resources you consume. Cedar shingles can be expected to last for at least 50 years depending on how thick they are. In contrast, hard slate can last for between 75-200 years. Thus, in terms of reducing your demand for new roofing, slate is the clear winner. 

Energy Consumption

In your search for a green roof, you should consider whether your roof will help you to consume less energy. Slate roofing tiles have a reflective crystalline surface, which will help to deflect the sun's energy away from your home. As such, they qualify as a cool roof and can help to decrease the amount of energy you use to cool your home. Some people claim that wood shingles will help to insulate a home, but numbers don't lie. To determine a material's insulation value, you should look at its R-value. The higher the R-value is, the better insulation a material provides. Wood shingles have a R-value of .97, which means they provide about as much insulation as a single pane of glass. Thus, in terms of energy consumption, wood will not help to isolate your home environment and thus reduce HVAC costs, but slate can help to keep your home cooler during the summer. 

Final Analysis

In that slate roofing does not require a lot of processing, it lasts for a long time, and it can help you to conserve energy in your home, slate is the greener roofing material. For further information or assistance, contact local roofing professionals, such as those from Ray's Harford Home Improvement Contractors Inc.