I’m shopping for a new roof and learning that there are a lot more choices for shingles these days. I’ve decided against using composite asphalt shingles. Natural slate and shake are out of the question for cost and safety reasons. I’m seriously considering synthetic slate or shake shingles and like the colors and textures I’ve seen, but I’d sure appreciate your opinion.
Synthetic slate and shake shingles made from engineered polymers have evolved dramatically. The newer generation looks so good that homeowners, architects and contractors need to squint to tell if they're not the real thing. The synthetic shingles are high-tech and offer homeowners significant cost and maintenance savings. They look just like real quarried slate or cedar shake and come in a wide variety of colors, thicknesses, blends and widths.
Besides looks and longevity, the real advantage is cost savings. Compared to natural slate, synthetic is at least half the installed cost. Compared to good composite asphalt, you'll pay two to three times more for a typical installation, but they are also warranted to last two or three times longer.
The newest, best synthetic roofing shingles don't curl, fade or crack. There's no treating required and no termites, silverfish or mold. They won't absorb water, so there are no freeze-thaw issues. Some manufacturers, like DaVinci Roofscapes, for example, specialize in synthetics and are so confident of the durability that they offer 50-year warranties.
When shopping synthetics, look for a thickness of at least half an inch. This will deepen shadow lines and convey the look of premium roof shake or natural stone roof shingle. Also check for multiple roof shingle widths to create a non-repeating, distinctive and varied pattern.
The best synthetic slate and shake roof shingles also provide advanced home safety and protection, including the highest fire rating (Class A), the highest impact rating (Class 4), and the highest ratings for wind resistance (110 mph). Actually, these can save homeowners money on insurance premiums, too.
Make sure the shingle has been tested by independent organizations like United Laboratories (UL) or the ICC Evaluation Service. Verify that products meet certain standards like the International Building Code® (IBC), International Residential Code® (IRC) and the Uniform Building Code (UBC). UL can confirm the fire rating, impact rating and wind resistance of synthetic slate and shake shingles.
Bottom line, don't be afraid to consider synthetic slate and shake roof shingles. These roof products offer enhanced safety, hassle-free installation and some very attractive cost savings. Only you and your roofing contrator need to know that they're not the real thing!