Walking on a Slate Roof - All You Need To Know

Walking on a Slate Roof – All You Need To Know

Performing your own roof repairs can save thousands of dollars in professional fees. However, some roofs are too dangerous for amateurs to walk on. Natural slate roofs fall into this high-risk category.

In this guide, I’ll explain why slate is perilous to walk on, alternatives to natural slate, and tips to safely navigate your roof. My goal is to equip you with the knowledge needed to make informed choices about your slate roof.

Key Takeaways

  • Slate roof tiles become extremely slippery when wet, making them hazardous to walk on for amateurs.
  • Composite synthetic slate provides the beauty of slate without the risk, cost and maintenance.
  • Only attempt slate roof repairs in optimal conditions with proper gear and training.
  • Alternatives like plastic, rubber and concrete have downsides compared to synthetic slate.
  • Composite slate contains recycled materials, has high impact resistance and needs little upkeep.

Why Slate is Slippery and Risky?

Why Slate is Slippery and Risky

Slate roofing tiles have been used for centuries thanks to their elegance, durability, and fire resistance. However, their beauty comes at a cost – slate is extremely slippery, especially when wet.

Here are a few reasons why slate is dangerous to walk on:

  • Smooth surface – Slate tiles are smooth and do not provide much traction, even on dry days. When it rains, they become exponentially more slippery.
  • Pitch – Most slate roofs have a steep pitch for optimal water runoff. This angle increases your risk of sliding and falling.
  • No grip – Slate does not have the textured surface of asphalt or wood shingles that allow shoes to “grip” the roof. There are fewer footholds on slate.
  • Brittle – Slate can crack, break, or slide out of place if walked on. Older roofs are prone to loose or missing tiles.
  • Mold and mildew – Over time, slate accumulates slick mold, moss, and algae, especially in damp environments. This organic buildup reduces traction.

Without proper safety gear and training, do not attempt slate roof repairs yourself. Leave it to the professionals.

Alternatives to Natural Slate Roofing

If the risks of slate concern you, consider switching to composite roofing tiles:

Plastic – Plastic roof tiles are affordable and come in various shapes and colors. However, they are not very durable and lack the elegance of slate.

Rubber – Rubber tiles are relatively inexpensive but have a lower fire rating than slate. Color options are limited as well.

Concrete – Concrete is extremely heavy and requires roof support like slate. It is also porous and prone to algae growth.

Synthetic slate – Composite slate combines the visual appeal of real slate with the safety and affordability of artificial tiles. This is the best slate alternative.

Benefits of Synthetic Slate Roof Tiles

Synthetic slate tiles offer homeowners the classic look of slate without the risks and downsides. Consider these benefits:

  • Affordable – Composite slate tiles cost less than real slate.
  • Safe – Unlike real slate, synthetic tiles have grip and can be safely walked on.
  • Durable – Composite slate is impact resistant and comes with a 50-year warranty.
  • Low maintenance – Synthetic slate does not promote mold growth.
  • Eco-friendly – Composite slate contains recycled materials.
  • Fire resistant – Artificial slate achieves a Class A fire rating.
  • Color options – Synthetic slate comes in a diverse range of colors.
  • Easy installation – Composite slate can be installed by most roofing contractors.

Synthetic slate combines durability, beauty, safety and affordability. For slate roof owners, it is the clear winner.

Tips for Walking on a Slate Roof

If you decide to brave your slippery slate roof, take these precautions:

  • Only attempt repairs in dry conditions on low-pitch sections.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes with aggressive tread and secure laces.
  • Use a fall arrest system like a body harness anchored to the roof.
  • Bring a helper to assist with ladder movement and catch you if you fall.
  • Take small, careful steps and keep your weight centered.
  • Get on your hands and knees or bottom to distribute weight.
  • Designate one path and follow it back and forth across the roof.
  • Add temporary grip tape, rope lines, or toe boards.
  • Consider wearing knee and elbow pads for cushion.
  • Never carry tools or materials when crossing the roof. Pass them once situated.

Even with gear, an experienced professional can still slip and fall off a slate roof. Don’t risk injury by taking this on yourself.


Can I walk on my slate roof to do a quick repair?

No, even a quick trip across a slate roof is dangerous without safety gear and training. Leave all slate roof repairs to professional roofers.

What shoes provide the best grip on the slate?

Shoes with deep, aggressive tread and secure laces work best. Some roofers use slip-resistant high-traction boots.

Can I coat my slate roof to make it less slippery?

Yes, there are grip coatings made for slate roofs that can improve traction. However, the application is difficult and results may be temporary.

Are all synthetic slate tiles safe to walk on?

Not necessarily. Double-check your specific composite slate brand for traction and impact resistance ratings before going on the roof.

Does synthetic slate offer a better grip than real slate?

Yes, reputable composite slate brands are engineered with textures and materials that significantly improve the safety of walking on the roof compared to natural slate.


When it comes to your home’s roof, looks are not everything. While natural slate is undeniably beautiful, the safety hazards and high maintenance costs make it impractical for most homeowners.

Composite synthetic slate delivers the best of both worlds – the timeless elegance of slate combined with 21st-century innovation.

If you’re ready to upgrade your roof with durability, affordability and peace of mind, synthetic slate is the clear choice.

Consult with roofing specialists in your area to see how synthetic slate can bring new life to your home. Your dream roof is closer than you think. Invest wisely and avoid the slippery slope of real slate.

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