16 May 2014

More Belgian inspiration - Slates

Whilst in Belgium we also got a good dose of slate inspiration. New slates, old slates, new slates pretending to be old slates. They like a bit of fancy-shaped slates and fancy patterns or bonds. 

The upper storey of our house will be clad in vertically-hung reclaimed welsh slate.  So far this has not been an easy choice and one we've had to be pretty determined about pursuing.  Every roofer I contacted recommended using new slates rather than reclaimed. Reasons given were; the new slates would last longer and come with a guarantee, the job would be more difficult with reclaimed slates, they were worried about the quality of reclaimed slate supplied, there would be more sorting to do and therefore the job would take longer, and cost more money, there would be a lot more wastage involved with reclaimed slates.  But, as cost is a huge factor in our build, all new slate would have to be Spanish, whereas if we used reclaimed slate we can use Welsh slate - the best in the world!  We also loved the softness and texture that reclaimed slates would bring to building.  New slates is a very different look, very uniform and sleek, and not at all the style we want. 

The size of slate that CLD have specified has meant that the slates are too small to have new nail holes drilled, which would be normal practice when hanging reclaimed slates.  There has therefore also been a lot of discussion about the use of slate clips.  Again, this has been a source of worry for a lot of roofers.  It is not normal practice in this country. But there were advocates for clips as they will make it a lot quicker (and therefore cheaper) to replace any broken slates in future.  Either way everyone worried about how the clips would look.

In Belgium almost every slate installation we saw whether vertical, or on a pitched roof, used slate clips.  It is obviously usual practice there.  We've seen enough to know we think it looks great.  Although the clips are obvious in these pictures you barely notice them on the scale of the whole wall or roof.  Even when you do see them they are not in the least bit offensive.  It has also answered the question as to whether we should use stainless steel clips or black powder coated clips - it doesn't matter! 

I had found a supplier a couple of months ago who had the quantity I needed at a good price.  Job done I thought!  Then last week I asked for a sample slate to be posted to me and it turned out the slate was welsh purple not blue/grey, so it's back to the phones for me next week! Good job I checked before I bought - lesson learnt.

By the way, we don't want to move to Belgium!  It just happens to be very interesting to us...architecturally speaking.

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