The Benefits of Synthetic Slate Shingles

They're more durable, easier to install and much less expensive than authentic slate.
Similar Topics:
  1. Roof
  2. Remodeling

Authentic slate shingles have been the roofing material of choice for centuries throughout Europe and the United States for estate homes, libraries and cathedrals. The beauty of authentic slate comes at a high cost, however, in terms of production, installation and durability: It's expensive to quarry, heavy to lift for transport and installation, fragile to cut and nail, and cracks easily once installed.

Synthetic slate shingles are a modern improvement on a construction classic. Made from combinations of plastic and rubber, synthetic slate is designed to mirror the beauty and uniqueness of authentic slate without the expense or installation headaches. And synthetic slate shingles last longer.

They're made by injection-molding petroleum-based materials into metal forms that are cast from authentic slate. Some brands of synthetic slate shingles are manufactured with virgin rubber or plastic, while other products incorporate recycled rubber or plastic, mineral dust or cellulose fibers. Recycled content usually consists of high-quality post-industrial materials; only a few incorporate post-consumer recycled materials.

Here's a look at the benefits of synthetic slate:

  • Synthetic slate is considered a "green" building alternative—even those that use virgin materials—because all types of synthetic slate can be recycled at the end of a roof's usable life.

  • Synthetic slate shingles are more durable than authentic slate, as they contain advanced ultraviolet inhibitors to reduce wear from the sun.

  • Safety is built-in. Synthetic slate typically contains impact modifiers to help withstand storm damage; in fact, most are certified by Underwriters Laboratories for Class 4 impact resistance, the highest level for roofing materials. Many synthetic slates also have the highest fire-resistance rating—Class A—which means they're effective against severe exposure to external fires, are not readily flammable and do not spread fire.

  • Transportation and installation of synthetic slate shingles is easier and less expensive than other roofing materials. Synthetic slate shingles are lighter than all asphalt shingles and, at 1.25 pounds per tile, are only a quarter the weight of authentic slate shingles. Their light weight also means that a standard roof structure can support synthetic slate shingles with no special reinforcement, making them practical for mainstream residential construction. During installation, synthetic slate shingles can easily be field-cut with a utility knife and nailed into place with standard roofing nails and a pneumatic nail gun. These characteristics are in sharp contrast with those of authentic slate installation, which requires precision cutting and nailing of heavy shingles that chip and crack easily.

On a scale comparing costs of conventional roofing materials, the initial cost of installing synthetic slate shingles falls in the middle—it's more expensive than asphalt and architectural shingles and less expensive than clay tile and authentic slate. Unlike less expensive asphalt shingles, however, synthetic slate roofs can last for up to 100 years, and the majority of synthetic slate shingles have 50-year warranties. The long life expectancy of this material means that a roof doesn't have to be replaced in 15 or even 30 years, and also that fewer repairs are needed during the roof's lifetime.

Next Up

How to Replace Ridge-Cap Shingles

Keep rain and melting snow from leaking inside with three simple steps.

Roofing Needs Require Some Math

To determine the pitch of the roof, measure over on a level line 12 inches from the edge of the roof on any part of the roof and measure vertically to see what the rise is.

Roofing Component Basics

Roofing terminology can be a bit overwhelming. These basic roofing definitions will help get your project off on the right foot.

Roofing Rules

Remember two simple codes for new shingles.

Maximum Value Home Exterior Projects: Roof

Learn how the roof of your home can attract or detract from its selling potential and how improving it can add value to your home.

Weekend Project: How to Add Architectural Design to a Roof Gable

Add interest to your home's exterior by adding a traditional-style accent to a plain gable. It takes less than a weekend to build and costs less than $100 in materials.

Cheap Kitchen Countertops

When budget is the first matter of consideration, it's important to consider price, from cheap kitchen countertops to the most expensive options.

Designing a Roof Addition

Consider these four options so the new portion of your roof matches the original one

Solar Shingles: Get Solar Power Without Changing Your Roof Line

Thin-film solar cells can serve double duty as roof shingles.

Unfinished Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Get all the info you'll need on unfinished kitchen cabinet doors and learn how they can be successfully incorporated into your kitchen design.

Stories We're Following

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.