Cupa Pizarras general manager, Eduardo Mera discusses how slate is shaped into the quality roofing tile that’s recognised worldwide.
In 1892, the founders of the company Cupa Pizarras extracted its first slate from the Solana de Forcadas quarry in Northern Spain, and in 2017 the company’s celebrates its 125th year of production.
Cupa Pizarras as it is known today was established in Spain in 1968 and, having already cemented a strong reputation in the industry, business took off, and throughout the 1990s further offices were opened up in France, Benelux, the UK and Denmark. Today, 98 per cent of its production is exported to more than 60 countries throughout five continents.
This Spanish manufacturer is the only provider of slate in the world to own the quarries from which the material for its tiles is extracted. As a result a special importance is placed on slate production as an art and the skills of its workers.
The act of splitting and shaping slate is honed over many years, and the knowledge passed on throughout the generations. Although technology is constantly evolving, and the machines used in production are more advanced, the process itself hasn’t changed, and the history of the profession is preserved.
Cupa Pizarras’ tiles come in a variety of thicknesses, finishes and sizes, making slate a popular solution across the housebuilding spectrum, in terms of both architecture and application. Furthermore, slate remains a 100 per cent natural material, even in its final form; its finish unique and unrivalled by prefabricated products.
Adding clout to its environmental credibility, no chemicals or additives are used during slate production, and it is recognised by the Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE, University of Bath) as the solution with least negative effects on the environment.
As quarry owners, there is the understanding that traceability of product isn’t just desirable but essential; a stringent labelling approach means every tile can be traced back to source. Other information, such as test results, and the number of tiles in each pallet, can also be identified with this method, meaning the builder can feel confident in the product they are offering to customers.
A behind the scenes glimpse at how slate is made not only provides context around what is ultimately a single element of a building project, but also sheds light on an interesting process shown to be carried out with skill and purpose. For Cupa Pizarras, a look back at how it all began underpins a realisation of its founders’ vision, all those years ago.
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