As far as materials go, there is nothing quite like natural slate. It is beautiful, graceful, and long-lasting. Spanish slates, in fact, have traditionally been regarded as one of the best materials for roofing and cladding.
According to geology.com, slate is a fine-grained, foliated metamorphic rock. Used since Roman times, natural slate is remarkably durable, fire resistant, and naturally waterproof. Because of its durability and attractive appearance, it is popular for a wide variety of uses, including roofing, cladding, flooring, and flagging
Natural slate is composed mainly of clay minerals or micas, depending upon the degree of metamorphism to which it has been subjected. The original clay minerals in shale alter to micas with increasing levels of heat and pressure.
In most cities, we can see a remarkable architectural history based on designing with materials which are a reflection of the natural world. Architect Arleni Gaudi wrote,
“The architect of the future will rely on the imitation of nature, because it is the most rational, durable and economical of all methods.”
Natural Slate & Environmental Sustainability
According to the Natural Stone Council, natural stones like slate are “inherently earth-friendly.” Natural stone currently offers many attractive, environmentally friendly attributes, including an enduring life-cycle, durability, ease of care and maintenance, recyclability, and quarry and manufacturing best practices.
NSC writes, “Conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste are some ways the stone industry is working to be eco-friendly through green building.”
Natural Slate Design Options
Not only is this material used outdoors, a number of architects and designers are now using outdoor materials indoors. Slate walls and floors are regarded as working just as well indoors as they do outside.
Natural slate has been always one of the finest materials. Slate tiles are best known and used in northern areas and countries where its resistance and water proof properties made them the perfect solution for the hardest weather conditions.
CUPA PIZARRAS provides Spanish natural slates, long considered one of the best materials, both for roofing and cladding. The company has made a commitment to quality, innovation and sustainability in terms of management and resources.
Slate cladding panels are often an ideal solution for both exterior and interior walls. Contemporary architects consider natural slate cladding an optimal material, thanks to its high performance, low maintenance, and durability. Slate tiles have become a stand-out element in some modern designs.
One of the most important characteristics of slate cladding is its water resistance. Comparing slate tiles to any other cladding solutions such as cement, slate cladding not only looks more elegant, it is considered a sustainable material.
The Slate Production Process
Before a person sees a beautiful slate roof, floor, or wall, a considerable amount of time and resources are invested in finding top-quality material. According to CUPA PIZARRAS, each of these steps is an important part of the production process. This information can be studied in detail on the company website, but here is a quick review of the entire production process:
Exploration for the Deposit
The exploration process commences once the geological, mineral and geotechnical surveys have been concluded. In addition to the prospecting work and sampling, testing takes place to determine the quality of the slate and the potential reserves of the deposit.
There are two exploration systems which are used: open quarries and underground mines. Regular surveys and trials are conducted throughout the life of the exploration with the aim of preparing the quarry for the future and to guarantee a continuous and steady production of high-quality slate.
Extraction of the resource
Slate is extracted in large blocks cut with a diamond blade. The blocks are transported by truck to the quarry processing plant. Water is used as a coolant and base material for removing rubble throughout the process involving the extraction and processing of the product. This water is recycled and purified in a closed circuit to prevent such a precious resource from being wasted.
Slate undergoes three phases at the processing plant prior to being packaged:
- Sawing – Large blocks of slate extracted from the quarry are sawn into different sizes in accordance with the size of the slate to be produced.
- Shaping – Workers cut each slate block into sheets, treating each item with meticulous care, all of which is done by hand. The water ensures the blocks do not dry, facilitating exfoliation and reducing loss.
- Beveling – Finally, the corners of each item are beveled in order to facilitate the passage of water over the slate once in place on the roof.
Characterized by its color and texture, natural slate is a noble material that enhances the value and beauty of any property. As the proprietors of CUPA PIZARRAS state, “The reliability and beauty of the products make it the ideal solution for architectural purposes, no matter the style or trend, because they adapt to any architectural design.”
Images: Slate roof tiles via Shutterstock; natural slate roofing via CUPA PIZARRAS.
This article has been supported by CUPA PIZARRAS