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Ascinder (Ascinder)
New member
Username: Ascinder

Post Number: 3
Registered: 11-2013
Posted on Saturday, November 09, 2013 - 12:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So my only concern is if plywood is not recommended for the roof decking for slate due to its significantly shorter lifespan and I put oak on top of what is essentially a plywood/foam sandwich, then if I have to repair/replace the plywood down the road, I have to pull up my roof anyways. That was my original thought on trying for some oak SIPS. The only problem would be the shrinkage from using the green wood in that instance. If you used dried or kiln dried oak, it would be too hard to nail to. Are there any other preferred top rated woods other than white oak that would perhaps shrink less or be easier to nail into once dried? I was eyeballing several of the species of cedar listed in the Slate Bible. There's also probably more cedar than oak in my area of Montana as well.

I was also worried about the track record and long term quality of some of the Chinese slates and I've heard good and bad about them. There seem to be a couple of their producers/vendors that post on here routinely, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of people posting about their quality or lack therof. I know one of them offers a 75 year warranty, but I have also dealt a lot with the Chinese(I lived there for about 6 months) and I know there are plenty of businesses that just don't last or their names change over the years-not exactly easy to make a claim on down the road. The only pros in that instance would be the low price and the fact they could ship into Portland which is pretty close. The nice thing about pre planning like this is that I have plenty of time to look for deals :)
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Old_school (Old_school)
Senior Member
Username: Old_school

Post Number: 1032
Registered: 01-2009
Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 - 08:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There are no quarries close to Montana, so I was thinking that used slate in Chicago would be about 15 hours closer and thus cheaper for transportation purposes. A lot of the used slate is not going to be much cheaper than the new stuff(maybe 20%) so everything is relative.

As far as the SIPS panels go, that is an excellent idea. Instead of trying to have them with an oak surface, just install them and then cover them with felt or a synthetic under-layment if you want till you are ready for the slate. Get some green rough sawn oak in a 1 x 4 and screw or nail that down to the OSB surface, spacing it so that you can lay the slates right over it, with one as a nailing surface, and the next supporting the top of the slate. You will not have to have that many that way and you will have a surface to fasten to. The green oak will be easy to nail into also and you will like that. No need for ss nails.

@ 18/12 pitch, you can go with a 2 inch headlap, and the snow is going to slide off so fast that ice build-up will not be a problem. Just make sure that you don't have sidewalks and such close to the house as they will be buried. Plantings will also be crushed next to the house. You will also want to build a dormer over each entrance to split the snow to either side of the door and you won't have to shovel the walks as much.

Good rock is good rock and bad rock is bad rock, and it really doesn't make any difference where in the world it is quarried at. I talked to one campany in Texas that sold Brazilian slates though and they admitted that they could not send it to the northern climates because it broke right down. I have warned people about that before, and a lot of them ignore the problems and go for the cheap price. You can lead a horse to water but you can't .....you know the rest of the sentence. I am sure that there are some good Chinese slates too, but if you don't know slate, you had better know your slate rep or the importer. You have to pay for it BEFORE it arrives and if it is junk, what recourse do you think you have? Just a thought. I like to deal with domestic suppliers because I can call them and talk to them, and I have used their products before. They have a track record. something to think about.

You should email me as my brother is currently working on a "Off Grid" house. He has a lot of information and I am sure it should be a great help to you. Maybe you know more about that than he and if that is the case, the reverse could be true. Have fun with it. good luck!
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Ascinder (Ascinder)
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Username: Ascinder

Post Number: 2
Registered: 11-2013
Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 - 03:42 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A. Thanks! I am originally from Montana, but moved away when I was still pretty young. its going to be great to be coming back :)
B. Would it be at all cheaper to send it via rail?
C. I was a truck driver once upon a time ago and I still have my CDL with double/triples endorsement and access to a truck and flatbed trailer. Hopefully I could save some costs by doing the legwork myself and just end up paying fuel.
D.It gets kinda tricky here. I wanted to use SIPs for my roof structure but obviously want to stay away from OSB or plywood. Does anyone have any leads on a SIP company that would skin with oak planks? I have also heard you have to (or should) use stainless nails with oak because its a little harder to nail to. Any significant cost differences with stainless?
E. I really don't know what thickness of slate to go with. My first instinct was that thicker would be more durable and therefore better, but I read somewhere that typically thicker slates are of lower quality and cant be split into thin slates which would be lighter and still do the job. I have an average snowfall of. over 200" per year and the potential property is only miles away from a ski resort, so I need something that will handle snow and ice.
F. Size I don't care as much about since Ill be doing most of the labor. I'm in it for the durability and longevity of the roof. I find both large and small slate roofs have their own charm. I know smaller slates take longer but since the labor is essentially free, I'm not too hung up on it.
G. So pretty much Brazil is out of the running. Any reasons or ideas why their stuff doesn't hold up? Like maybe the composition is bad?
H. I had heard that Chinese slates ran the gamut from hard as all get out to so soft they break apart just by looking cross eyed at them. Someone was saying that they got some really nice slates out of there though.
I. I have considered used slates since they've already proven theyre good. My only question is where to I find enough of the same sizes/types to guarantee a fully covered roof plus allow for breakage and future repairs? Also, since I am just in the planning stages right now, finding a good solid estimate of what I would be able to get used slate for is just as much of a crapshoot as new slate! I mean, just how much less is old slate supposed to be than new? I would hope for a percentage since the costs vary so widely anyways.
J. I'll try that, thanks.
K. The house is going to be ~5,000 sqft. with 18:12 pitched roofs, so pretty steep, and based on my calculations ~9,000 sqft of roof. I am hoping to alleviate some snow load with the steeper pitch and provide for some extra interior space. As I mentioned, I plan on building with SIPs for the roof structure provided I can get someone to do them with the oak planks instead of OSB/plywood skins. The house will be built from composite ICFs and use a geothermal heating/cooling system with in floor radiant heating. The property is off grid and so I'll be using solar, wind, and a backup generator for power and I am going to try to utilize a semi earth sheltered building approach to buffer temperature extremes. There is a stream and several springs on the property which will be developed and used to fill a pond and several holding tanks. I have a copy of "The Slate Bible" on the way, but if you can recommend any other relevant resources for selecting or installing slate, I'm all ears.
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Old_school (Old_school)
Senior Member
Username: Old_school

Post Number: 1031
Registered: 01-2009
Posted on Tuesday, November 05, 2013 - 06:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A. You are building in Montana, and that is a long way from anywhere..Congratulations
B. You need two truckloads of slate!
C. That is $50/square for the freight
D. You will have $10/ a square in copper nails
E You didn't specify what thickness of slates you are after.
F. You didn't say what size you want.
G. Most of the stuff from Brazil will fall apart in the cold climate.
H. A lot of the stuff from China is hard as Billy Hell!
I. Have you considered used slates?
J. EPL works out of Chicago and he is closer to you. Ask him about some good used slate.
K. give us more information.

Good luck with that.
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Ascinder (Ascinder)
New member
Username: Ascinder

Post Number: 1
Registered: 11-2013
Posted on Tuesday, November 05, 2013 - 06:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am planning on building a custom home within the next several years and have decided to use slate as the roofing material. I have been doing a lot reading and research on it and am planning on doing a lot more. The problem I am having is that for preconstruction cost estimating, I am getting prices from literally every end of the spectrum. Some guy posted on here about some chinese slate he could get for $46 per square while Ive also heard of English and Vermont going for $700+ per. I have read enough articles and forum postings in here and elsewhere that basically say: You get what you pay for, but there are exceptions. Sometimes the Chinese have good slate, but its hit or miss. Same with Brazil and Spain. Vermont,Canada, and England all tend to have pretty solid reputations for the most part, but you end up paying out the wazoo for them. My potential build site is in Western Montana and from what Im seeing, that puts me fairly far away from most distributors and probably most slate contractors. I am currently estimating at about 90 squares for this place, but the hitch is that I am a huge DIYer and plan on doing most if not all the construction myself. When I look at types of slates, I tend to think of them in terms of cars. I figure that $46 chinese is pretty comparable to an ancient broke down Yugo. The Vermont, Canadian, and English are more like the Bentleys, Lambroghinis and Ferraris, while the Brazils and Spains are like Ford, Dodge, and Chevy-decent enough most of the time but with plenty of lemons and factory recalls. My point is that Im looking for a honda civic. Something thats not particularly expensive that just does the job. I dont particularly care about color or size or shape, just that it lasts a good long time with minimal(or no) maintenance and that its a decent overall quality. I would prefer a slate with a super long manufacturer warranty from a manufacturer who's actually going to be around long enough to warrant it. Failing that, I'd just like a slate that was high enough quality not to need a warranty. Am I asking too much? I'd prefer to come in around $200 per square which I dont think is that unreasonable considering what I'm willing to compromise on. I just want to know how I can go about actually getting ahold of distributors that I can trust, that have a proven enough product or track record and arent charging a small fortune for their product. What say you?

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