The Reasons for Deciline of Slate Roofing

The pre-war boom in building construction which stimulated the use of slate roofing was ultimately its undoing. Architects, now concerned about the speed of construction and the cost per square foot of space, began to demand roofing materials that were cheap, easily handled and installed. In 1887 the Scientific American hailed the introduction of sand-coated fibrous pulp or felt roofing as “superior to that of slate because of its lightness.” Since then a whole range of materials from cement, asbestos and even crushed slate was developed as surfacing for asphalted felt and marketed as prepared or “ready” roofing services. Slate trade literature reacted to the new competition. In its 1907 brochure entitled “Slate and Its Uses” the Genuine Bangor Slate Company of Easton, Pennsylvania, pressed the advantages of slate roofing in comparison to standard competitors such as tin, steel and corrugated iron. But it launched its lengthiest and most vigorous defense against composition roofing, manufactured coverings made of tar, asphalt, gravel or asbestos coatings on felt, wool and other materials.

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