Slate is useful for roofing, pool tables and floor tile. At one time, slate was commonly used for school blackboards. When slate forms, it contains parallel lines of cleavage that allow it to fracture into smooth, thin slabs, making it a useful stone for many applications.
Man has used slate in roofing for centuries, and the slate roofs of some buildings have lasted for centuries. The long-wearing material endures the effects of weathering well, but the weight of slate roofing requires additional structural support. The cost of these extra materials puts slate out of reach for many homeowners.
Slate topped with felt is the traditional playing surface for pool tables. Manufacturers use up to 1-inch slate in the manufacturing process. The stone is ground to a fine finish before manufacturers cover it with felt. Slate does not warp, as many other materials used in pool table construction tend to do. The weight of slate makes the tables expensive to ship.
The natural color of slate ranges from gray to green to red, giving homeowners several choices in slate floor tiles. The material is as long-lasting on floors as it is on the roofs.
As of 2014, most schools have replaced slate blackboards. Teachers use dry erase boards or electronics to present information they once printed on the board.