Slate and clay tiles for roofing have a long history and a beauty that is unique. But, they do come at a notoriously high cost. So, asphalt shingles are often used as an alternative, becoming the number one roofing material in North America. But, wouldn’t it be nice if there was another option that had the beauty and durability of slate or even cedar shake, with lesser cost? With synthetic shingles, there is.
Costs and Value
For synthetic composite shingles, shakes, tiles and slates, a fair price range is $5.50 to $9.50 per sq. ft. installed. The price will likely be higher in densely populated coastal areas with high costs of doing business including labor cost. With that in mind, the total projected cost of composite roofing installed would be about one third to one half the price of installing natural slate, and roughly twice the cost of installing asphalt shingles.
And, it is nearly the same price as installing a cedar shake roof. The difference though is that synthetic roofing materials are lighter and easier to install than other materials, plus they are actually as durable as stone! 😉
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Did you know? Total Costs Installed are largely determined by the choice of materials, location, shape and slope of the roof, and quality, reputation and experience of the installer.
Durability and longevity provide enormous advantage when it comes to the return on investment (ROI). Did you know? Asphalt shingles and cedar shakes are going to go through a minimum of three life cycles on the same sized roof that a synthetic shingle occupies.
Generally, synthetic shingles will carry a 50 plus year warranty. Yet, this is not the only advantage (see below). We estimates a 70 to 80 percent ROI with synthetic roofing products, which likely holds true, if not better for fake or simulated slate.
Synthetic Shingles in a Nut Shell
There are really two primary types synthetic roofing materials; There’s the type that mimics slate (natural stone), and the type that looks like cedar shake (wood).
Generally, manufacturers of synthetic material will stick to one type over the other. DaVinci Roofscapes makes both synthetic slate also known as fake slate, and simulated synthetic shakes.
Another prominent specialist synthetic shingles maker Enviroshake manufactures synthetic shakes, though their product line crosses into other roof styles, despite their brand name.
Other known manufacturers include CertainTeed via the brand name Symphony and EcoStar. When it comes to roofing companies, chances are they’ll install whatever synthetic material you prefer, though likely are carrying just one or two of these brands.
Technically, synthetic roofing material is a polymer-based composition, or simply put a mixture of rubber and plastic. It may vary slightly in composition so as to engineer a proprietary blend (allowing for proper branding). To form it as slate or shingles, molds are used.
Historically, shake and shingle are not the same thing, and to achieve the axe look (of shake) or saw look (of shingles), different molds are used. Either way, the final appearance is hard to distinguish from the natural material. Up close, perhaps the discerning eye can tell the difference, but from curbside, it would be imperceptible.
In terms of available colors, there are virtually no limits. But, because synthetic slate and shake roofing style is intentionally seeking to mimic natural materials, manufacturers tend to self-limit colors to those materials, though with equal intent to provide variation.
Cedar shake is generally not uniform in color, and neither is the synthetic version. Plus, if there is a desire to have it be an atypical color, wholesalers or participating roofing contractors can obtain whatever color variation a homeowner may wish, including combinations or multi-color roofs.
The material is considered eco-friendly, because it is 100% recyclable. We can’t say the same for asphalt shingles that deliver hundreds of tons into landfills annually.
Some of the manufacturers will use virgin material that’s non-recycled, while many use the recycled material, but that is at a high grade. By the time it leaves a manufacturer, it is impossible to tell the difference between the two.
Advantages of Synthetic Shingles
- lighter / easier to install than natural counterparts
- resistant to mold, mildew, fungus, rot or insect infestation
- holds up to weather variation, extremely well. Is hail resistant, can handle extreme temperature changes, and can withstand up to 180 mph winds before it tears off.
- needs very little maintenance (annual cleaning at most)
- Is not fragile, or can be walked on (unlike natural slate)
- eco-friendly, the base material is recyclable
- oh yeah, and it’s fireproof
Disadvantages of Synthetic Shingles
The disadvantages are really more like words of caution. Cost would be the most well known disadvantage as asphalt shingles rule the market and as already noted, are about half the cost to install. But here are some other considerations:
- Synthetic shingles have been on the market since 1993, so they don’t have the track record of their natural peers. Warranties therefore must be taken with a grain of salt
- Also, it isn’t well known how the color in the material will fade over time, but so far they are known to hold up well
- Usually a home roofing job needs to pass with local building codes, and because this product is relatively new, it might not even be included in such codes or could be forbidden. Likely not the case, but still a consideration.
The beauty, durability, and modest cost makes synthetic shingles one of the options to consider for any roofing job. Stone slate roofing has held the reins as cream of the crop of all roofing materials, and now there’s an item in the market that holds up just as well, possibly better, and for much less cost.
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