Spanish slate is one of the most popular roofing materials in the UK due to its excellent performance, affordability, and distinct appearance. By comparison, Spanish slate is almost 1/4 of the cost of a new Welsh slate! In terms of longevity, most Spanish slates are guaranteed to outlive battens and rafters, and we can’t really ask for more than that.
Spanish Slate Appearance
Most of us are led to believe that Spanish slate is, just simply, Spanish slate, but in actual fact, there are over 40 quarries in Spain. These quarries produce varying sizes, thicknesses, and selections (we’ll go into selections in a moment). This is important to know because you, as a purchaser, are not limited to whatever your local merchant is stocking on that particular day. Slate is beautiful by mother nature’s design, and we intend to make sure every customer has plenty of choices when it comes to their new slate roof.
Colour & Texture
Spanish roof slate comes in various shades of grey, but never a true black. Within the grey spectrum, certain rocks form differently over the thousands of years of compression, which ultimately affects their texture and colour. For example, our Prestige GM First is quarried in Lugo, Spain. The Prestige Spanish slate presents a beautifully smooth surface with neatly dressed edges. On paper, the Prestige GM First is a grey/blue slate. Due to it being a lighter colour, it is very versatile in its application. For example, a contemporary property with grey accents in the guttering, window frames and facia would complement a grey slate. A traditional cottage with a weathered, rustic exterior would also benefit from a lighter grey slate due to similarities to weathered Welsh slate.
Now, interestingly, our Spanish Samaca Q49 (see above) is specified as a Grey/Blue slate but is much darker in appearance and textured. This somewhat limits its application to traditional properties. These slates are a prime example of colour subjectivity. It is always recommended that people in the market for slate receive samples of a Spanish slate prior to purchase. It’s a decision you can only make once, so make sure you do your due diligence and ask your supplier for samples, DoPs (declaration of performance) and guarantee information.
Selection is a relatively straight forward procedure for the quarries. Each Spanish slate quarry will have their own criteria to distinguish between a 1st grade (sometimes called Ultra Grade, Prime Grade or Primera Grade) and a 2nd grade (Standard, Segunda, Premium). Generally speaking, a 1st-grade slate will be more uniform in thickness, consistent in appearance and generally easier to lay. These, naturally, fetch a higher price. 1st-grade slates excel on contemporary builds due to their flush, pristine finish. 2nd-grade slates, technically the by-product of the split, will vary in thickness to some extent (typically 5mm-7mm), present a textured or more riven surface, and can sometimes have a slight curve in a few of the slates. 2nd-grade slates As mentioned above, these criteria vary from quarry to quarry, so it’s always worth having a conversation with your supplier. Further information on selections and grades can be found on our Slate Cost Guide page.
Spanish Slate Cost
We are often asked, “what is the difference between all of your slates? Why are some cheaper than others?”. It’s an excellent question, and certainly something everyone should know. We’ve written a detailed guide on Slate Cost Guide. We highly recommend having a quick read, whether you buy your slate from us or not, it’ll arm you with the right information to ask any supplier. If they can’t answer the following questions, do not buy from them:
- What grade or selection is the slate?
- Is it T1 or T2 rated?
- Is it guaranteed by the quarry?
- Can it be traced back to source?
Sourcing your own Spanish slate can be a little time consuming, but it’s nearly always a very cost-effective way to go about it. A simple 5-minute conversation with a member of our team could potentially save your thousands, so pick up the phone and call us on 01296 658 396. Whether you’re buying for an outbuilding or large-scale development, our team can help you find the slate that’s right for you.