Natural or Synthetic ~ We Have the Experts

Natural Slate

Benefits of Natural Slate:

  • Slate is a beautiful roofing material.
  • It has a reputation for being used on the most admired dwellings.
  • It is one of the most durable roofing tiles available.
  • It is a natural product.
  • It can be recycled as roofing again, making it eco-friendly.
  • Slate is naturally fire-resistant.
  • It is resistant to insect infestation.
  • Boss is qualified to install a slate roof.
  • It’s hard to put an exact number on the lifespan, but there’s no reason a slate roof properly installed shouldn’t live around 75 years or even close to 100.

Cons of Natural Slate:

  • Slate is heavy. If you are building a new home, the roof must be engineered to carry the weight (up to 4 times as heavy as asphalt shingles).
  • If you are putting a new roof on your existing home, you will need to have an engineer review your roof structure to determine if it will carry the increased weight. If the structure needs additional support, it can substantially impact the project’s cost.
  • A slate specialist will be needed for the installation. Regular roofing contractors are not qualified to install slate.
  • Slate is strong, but it is brittle. Heavy objects (such as large hail) can cause damage.
  • Slate roofing specialists will need to do the repairs since the same equipment will be needed to access the roof and complete the repairs.
  • Slate is not easy to walk on and can be dangerous when wet.

Lichen, Mould and Moss On Roof

Damage to Natural Slate Roof

Synthetic Slate

If you love the look of a slate roof, but don’t feel it’s an option for you, there is an option that can alleviate some of the cost and some negative aspects of natural slate roofing that we discuss here.

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.

Although 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.

Benefits of synthetic slate:

  • Synthetic slate is still considered a “green” building alternative, 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.

It’s hard to put an exact number on the lifespan, but there’s no reason a slate roof shouldn’t live around 75 years or even close to 100.

While a synthetic slate roof won’t last as long, you can still expect to get around 40-50 years out of it as long as it’s installed correctly. Obviously, a slate roof has a clear advantage over a synthetic slate roof when it comes to lifespan.

Unlike real slate, a synthetic slate roof comes with a lifetime limited material warranty. However, the length of the material warranty depends on the manufacturer of your synthetic shingles.

Because of this, it’s important to talk to your roofing contractor about which manufacturer they use and the material warranty options for a synthetic slate roof.