Artificial slate: use, sources of supply and prices

Slate roofs have a long tradition in our part of the world. Artificial slate is a modern building material for roofs and facade coverings, which can bring many advantages in these areas. Above all, it is also an inexpensive building material, especially in comparison to natural slate, which is practically durable for centuries, but is also more expensive. Some, on the other hand, view artificial slate - especially in connection with asbestos - sometimes critically.

Material and properties

Artificial slate panels are made from a fiber cement. This gives them a particularly low weight, but they offer almost the same weather protection and a long shelf life like natural slate. However, they are shown according to experience only about 30 to 40 years, even if the total life exceeds 100 years. After 30 years, starting leaks must be expected. Artistic plates for the facade, on the other hand, often consist of fiberglass material, which makes them a little less prone to pollution than natural slate. For this they are a bit more prone to UV radiation and can fade over time. The weather resistance of such plates is approximately equally well as of natural slate plates. Artistic plates are often known under the trade name of the manufacturer Eternit. Visually similar results can be achieved when laying with artificial slate as with natural slate.

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Use of artificial slate

Unlike natural slate, which is occasionally used indoors, artificial slate is used almost exclusively on roofs and facades. In theory, the use of Eternit panels indoors is conceivable, but in practice this is never done. The panels are also available in different shapes and sizes and, like the natural material, can be attached in different types of cover. Depending on the type of cover - old German cover, wild cover or more symmetrical forms - the material consumption changes accordingly. The roofer's experience is particularly important here when it comes to estimating the amount of material required for a roof or facade with a certain type of roofing.

Sources of supply and prices

Artificial slate is available in well-stocked building materials stores, otherwise also from roofers, in larger quantities often directly from the manufacturer. We strongly advise against covering a roof on your own anyway - the experience of a specialist is absolutely necessary here. Under certain circumstances, you can also manage facades yourself - the risk of causing damage to the building is not that great here. When planning external insulation and a ventilated facade with artificial slate panels, however, you should always consult a specialist, since the planning is the critical point here, which requires appropriate specialist knowledge.

In terms of price, artificial slate is more or less significantly lower than natural slate - but artificial slate prices vary considerably depending on the size, type and thickness of the panels. Compared to clay tiles, artificial slate is definitely cheaper when it comes to roofing. For a facade made of GRP, you can expect around 40 euros per square meter, Eternit roof tiles are available from around 4 - 5 euros per square meter. Due to the many different products and types of cover, however, there are relatively large price differences per square meter.

This is how artificial slate is made

Cement with fiber reinforcement has been around since the 19th century. Century - in the beginning, 90 percent cement and 10 percent asbestos fibers were simply mixed together and fed through a paper machine. That was the beginning of Eternit. Later, because of the health hazard, the respirable asbestos fibers were replaced by glass fibers, carbon fibers or special fibers made of polyvinyl alcohol in order to reduce the health hazard. The production methods have of course also become more modern over time. GRP panels, on the other hand, like other GRP materials, are also manufactured in plastics factories.

Artificial slate compared to other building materials

Artificial slate is clearly an alternative - especially a cheap one. Natural material, such as real slate, on the other hand, is not only ecological but also close to nature - with all its special properties. Façade panels made of GRP - i.e. plastic - cannot compete here, of course, plastic is and remains plastic, with all the ecological aspects that this also entails. This often results in a significant cost advantage compared to expensive natural materials.

The asbestos problem

Cement fiberboard has long been discredited for the asbestos it contains. Today they are actually made asbestos-free, but old coverings that still contain asbestos in the artificial slate still have to be disposed of as hazardous waste by a specialist company, and that is usually extremely expensive. Today, for legal reasons, it is no longer permissible to remove the car yourself. Particularly damaged, old Eternit panels can release a large amount of the asbestos they contain as long as they are undamaged, but there is usually no acute risk. The health hazard posed by asbestos is based on the fact that the fine fibers can possibly get into the lungs and that the body can no longer break down asbestos. It remains in the body - and that is dangerous.

Artificial slate can therefore be a consistently viable alternative, especially when it comes to roofing, which helps to save costs. Plastic facades made of GRP are not for everyone and do not suit every building - but each homeowner has to make the decision for himself.