Roofing with slate tiles is a centuries-old European tradition that made its way to the Americas in the early 17th century [source: Sweetser]. Slate is durable and beautiful, with a natural color range, and it lasts a long time with little maintenance. Light colored and earth-toned slate help in reducing the heat absorbed by a building because it has natural reflective properties. It also wears to a nice finish over time.
Some downsides to using slate are its upscale price and heavy weight. While slate is among the most beautiful roofing treatments, especially in re-creating Mediterranean and Spanish architecture styles, it is costly and harder to transport than lighter, less breakable materials. Its extensive use worldwide is due to its popularity as a cool roofing material for hot climates and its widespread availability. In areas without natural slate reserves, it is an expensive option. Reclaimed or salvage slate is available in some areas, but installation and transport costs still add up.