For many years Bangor Blue slates from Wales were the most popular and widely available roofing slates in Ireland. Nowadays, around 75% of global production originates from Spain so it is hardly surprising that Spanish slates present a tempting alternative to those building their own home.
As competition amongst Spanish slate companies intensifies in Ireland, these companies are finding more and more creative ways to sell and market their product. One way in which they are doing this, is by comparing their Spanish slates to the best slate in the world – the Bangor Blue slate from Wales.
At LBS, we have becoming increasingly aware of sales tactics from certain Spanish slate companies which are designed to deceive and mislead customers into thinking that their Spanish slate is of a similar quality to Bangor Blues.
This has prompted us to draft the following document:
1. The rep from the Spanish Slate company claims his slate is the very best in the world and is equal to (or even superior to) Bangor Blues. Is this true?
The short answer is ‘no’. Only the Bangor Blue slate is renowned globally as the best quality slate in the world. This can be proven by looking at the independent testing data and certification for Bangor Blue slates, and comparing it against its Spanish counterparts.
In explaining the difference, it is important to consider the geology and origin of both slates. Bangor Blue (Welsh) slates were formed in a period of time known as the Cambrian era some 600 million years ago. This makes them 100-200 million years older than Spanish slate and, as a result of being ‘cooked in the earth’ for this extra time, Bangors are a harder, denser, stronger and more compact slate. The geological make-up of a Bangor Blue is extremely pure and free from any damaging minerals or pyrites (which can be found in Spanish deposits). Bangor Blue slates also have a negligible water absorption rate compared with softer Spanish Slate – making Welsh Slate far more suited to the harsh Irish climate.
2. The testing certificate I have been shown by the Spanish company shows fantastic results that are better than anything else on the market?
Be wary of ‘self-certified’ certificates which show technical results which seem ‘too good to be true’. You should always insist on seeing testing certificates stamped from an independent laboratory (no more than 1 year old).
Do not be misled by marketing ‘gimmicks’ from certain Spanish traders claiming their slates adhere to the ‘superior’ French NF standard. In reality, there is no marked difference between the quality of tests carried out under BS EN 12326 and those carried out under the NF standard. In addition, Bangor Blue slate has the added assurance of being Kitemark accredited – with samples independently selected and tested by the British Standards Institute (BSI).
We have recently carried out a benchmarking exercise against Spanish slates, the results of which are available upon request, and very much support the position of the Bangor Blue as the ‘best slate’ in the world.
3. Will my Spanish roof look like a Bangor Blue?
The answer is “not at all”. Bangor Blue slates are a heather blue / purple colour which is something truly unique to this slate. Although there are a large number of different slates available from Spain, the colour is all effectively variances of blue/grey. Notwithstanding the obvious colour differences, the Bangor Blue has a characteristic strong grain and texture unlike any Spanish slate.
Bangor Blue slates have been coming into Ireland from as far back as the 15th century, and they are an important part of the country’s history and heritage. Their unique colour is synonymous with quality Irish architecture, and these slates cover may of the country’s most prestigious buildings and homes. No other slate looks the same, or is the same.
4. I am being given a 50 / 75 /100 / 200+ year guarantee for my Spanish slate, so it must be as good as the Bangor Blues?
If a Spanish slate guarantee appears ‘too good to be true’ – it probably is.
Can the Spanish slate rep show you a roof of their slate which is 100 years old?? The reality is that Spanish slates have only been coming into this country since the 1980s and their lifespan in this climate is largely unknown. Bangor Blue slates by contrast, can be seen up and down the country, with many roofs centuries old, and still intact.
Look closer and many guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on. Any guarantee you get should be considered first and foremost on the strength of the company offering it, and not the length of the guarantee. Bear in mind that many of the companies making these outlandish claims and are unlikely to be around in the time period to make good on the guarantee should it be required. A standard issue Spanish guarantee is for 30 years, anything above this is no more than a ‘marketing tactic’.
5. Why are Bangor Blue Slates working out a lot more expensive?
As with any premium product, there is a price tag associated with Bangor Blues but it is also worth noting that a 200 year old Bangor Blue has a re-sale value of ½ of a new one so, from a financial perspective, they are one of the only building products to appreciate in value over time so, to that end, they are an investment for the future. As with most things in life, it is very much a case of “you get what you pay for”.
Please note that these unscrupulous claims are not the view of the majority of the Spanish industry. As the market’s leading supplier of Spanish slates, LBS have fitted thousands of quality Spanish slate roofs across the country. The purpose of this document is more to dispel some of the myths / misinformation coming from a small number of Spanish slate companies.
Feel free to contact us for further information and you are welcome to call to our showrooms in Lisburn or Athy, to view our entire product range.