Creating Faux Slate Shingles

I wanted the shingles on the dollhouse to look like slate instead of wood, since that was a common material to use for roofing at the turn of the century. The wooden shingles that came with the kit had a nice shape already.

shingle wood.jpg
slate roof.jpg

Slate shingles don't have to be squared off. In fact, if you look at old Victorian homes, the slate would often be chipped away using a mallet prior to roofing, producing fish-scale or octagon shaped shingles.

slate shingle sample.jpg

I started with two packs of Grey Shingle dye for 2000 wooden shingles, which I mixed in a ration of 3 cups for the two packages.

shingle dye.jpg

The instructions for dying the shingles seemed overly complicated, involving a netting to hold the shingles inside an upside-down jug and repeatedly pouring the dye over them. Why in the world you would want to do it that way, I have no idea, unless it just doesn't make enough with one pack to cover 1000 shingles, even in batches. We used a simple process instead that worked very well.

dye mix.JPG

We mixed the dye in a small tupperware type container that was fairly shallow, and then we simply put a couple handfuls of shingle into the dye mix at a time. Using latex gloves, we would swish the shingles around to make sure they were thoroughly coated and then let them soak for a couple minutes per batch. We moved each soaked batch into a planting tray (the kind left over after you buy flowers from the hardware store).

What the shingles look like wet.

What the shingles look like wet.

I did follow the dye packed instructions to rake through the shingles over the next few days as they dried. The shingles dried about 40% lighter than what they look like wet, and still looked distinctly wood-like since the dye picked out the wood grains. I did have enough dye left over to run the shingles through a second time, but I knew it still wouldn't achieve the slate-like look I wanted.

spraying shingles.jpg

Fortunately, there is a spray paint called Chalkboard which gives a slate like matte finish when sprayed on. I applied two light coats, which was enough to hide the wood grain. The dye was still worth doing, because all of the shingle edges were dark, and I didn't have to worry about spraying them as a result.