In our area of Virginia, known as Hampton Roads or Tidewater, there are still many slate roofs in key areas of Yorktown, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Williamsburg, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Hampton, Suffolk, and Portsmouth.
The most common areas for Slate Roofs being in Ghent and Larchmont in Norfolk and Hilton Village and Huntington Heights in Newport News.
A question that we receive over and over is “I had a leak in my slate roof and a roofing contractor said I had to replace it, is that true?” The short answer is “not necessarily.”
Slate may be the best roofing product ever used. We are blessed by the fact that many of the roofs here in Virginia have Buckingham Slate on them from Arvonia in Buckingham County Virginia, which is known for some of the highest quality slate in the world and has been known to last over 120 years on Norfolk homes.
Some of the finest buildings in The United States have chosen Buckingham Slate s their roofing material.
Buckingham Slate is very much like the Vermont Slate and not at all like softer Slate from Pennsylvania or the shallow slate quarries in China that are producing some Slate that isn’t even lasting 20 years installed. Here is a video of the famous Camara Quarry in Vermont
This piece of Buckingham Slate is 124 years old and looks almost identical to a piece that is produced new:
Oftentimes, leaks in Slate roofs have nothing to do with the Slate itself and more to do with flashings needing to be replaced due to the fact that the original roofers who installed the Slate roof not using a metal like copper and instead using galvanized flashing or galvanized nails. The lesser quality metal will wear out long before the Slate has run it’s useful life. The result is leaks in the roof, but leaks which can be repaired at a much lower expense than demolishing the entire roof and replacing it with asphalt shingles.
The most common leaks that are experienced on roofs are from plumbing pipe collar flashings, such as this one:
Joe Jenkins, author of the Slate Roofing Bible shows the proper way to replace a pipe collar in this video:
As you can probably tell, Slate work requires specialized tools and equipment and an entirely different skill set than the standard roofing contractor in Norfolk or Newport News. We’ve been doing Slate Roofing in Yorktown, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Williamsburg, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Hampton, Suffolk, and Portsmouth for many years. We have the experience to diagnose any leak in your Norfolk Slate Roof and make any needed repairs.