|My slate, ready to ship from China.|
|The crates after travelling 6000 miles to my lot.|
|Ready to start roofing!|
|A test patch of tiles.|
|Tiles are 10"x20".|
If you want a roof that will literally last a thousand years, slate is the only way to go. Though it's brittle and will break at a blow, it's totally impervious to the weather. In Europe, workers strip centuries-old tiles off ancient houses, then use those same tiles on new houses. It's also fireproof. Traditionally, no waterproof underlayment is needed; the overlapping tiles should be able to shed water.
There are a lot of individual surfaces on my roof, and an average-sized surface took me about two weeks to cover. The copper flashing required in corners, valleys, and drip edges was also time-consuming. I didn't enjoy the sheet-metal work, but nailing on the tiles was fun, especially long straight runs. Each section was so beautiful when I would get it done that I couldn't wait to start on the next. My neighbor would text me, saying how great the roof was looking from their house. I still have to finish some corners and do the cupola roof, but other than that it's done. Eventually, there will be a copper ridge on all the peaks, and copper chimneys at the corners.
Added Sept. 2014:
I have added the copper ridges to the roof. I 'antiqued' the copper by using a chemical called Liver of Sulfur. This gel is readily available from hobby shops, but I got mine on eBay. You just mix a few drops with water and brush it on the bare copper, which instantly turns a dark bronze, like an old penny. A second brush stroke turns the copper black, but it's easy to bring back some copper color with steel wool.
I had been having trouble with woodpeckers damaging the few wooden parts of the house, so I decided to mount a fake owl on the peak of the roof over the dining room, in an attempt to scare off the other birds. I found a life-size fiberglass owl on eBay, painted it bronze and mounted it on the roof. A few nights later, I heard a commotion overhead, and looked out a window to see two real owls having a party on the roof. One is actually sitting on the head of my fake owl, which I considered downright disrespectful! :)