Attractiveness of Slate Roofs in the Beginning of the 20th century

From 1908, the graduated slate roof received notice in the building periodicals as a way of beautifying slate roofs “marked off into distressingly regular squares or lozenges.” The idea was an Arts and Crafts one extolled in the American magazine, The Craftsman, and first brought to the attention of Canadians in an article on “Attractiveness in Slate Roofs” that appeared in The Contract Record. The graduated slate roof was actually a reversion to methods of roof installation in the days before sizes or thicknesses were standardized. After sufficient slate shingles were extracted from the quarry the slates were sorted according to length and thickness, then laid with the broader heavier slates close to the eaves and the smaller, lighter slates toward the ridge. The rough texture and uneven edges of the variously sized slates imparted a definite charm to the roof that was enhanced by the use of different colours of slate that often occurred naturally in the same quarry. As The Contract Record pointed out, a graduated slate roof could produce the effects of an old roof immediately: Earth and rock colours, combined with the rough surface and ruffed edges of the slates, make it possible to have a roof that from the very first has all the appearance of age and that harmonizes not only with the building but with all the surrounding landscape, because both colour and surface are those of the natural rock.

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