Real vs Synthetic Roofing Materials: Faux-Real or For Real?

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With so many new roofing products coming to market, many homeowners are wondering if synthetic slate, stone and clay-tile roofing is superior to the real thing. Today’s faux roofing materials are composed of rubber or plastic, with UV and impact-resistant additives. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of real and faux roofing, so you can make the right choice for your home.

What are the pros and cons of a real-wood shake roof?

Wood Shake roof

When it comes to aesthetics, wood shake roofing is unlike any other roofing material in that no two roofs will ever look the same. In fact, as the wood ages, your roof will look different from year to year.

Homeowners love the character of weathered wood shakes, but is character worth the maintenance and hassle? In Oklahoma’s humid climate, wood roofs are especially prone to rot, mold and mass – more so if you use wood that isn’t pressure-treated. Shake roofs can suffer quite a bit of damage from wood-destroying insects and high winds. Wood is also one of the least fire-resistant products available.

What about real slate and clay tile?

Slate roof installation
Natural slate and clay tile have two entirely different looks, but they have many similarities. Both products have amazing longevity. There are reports of slate roofs that have lasted well over 100 years. These materials are also extremely heavy, which makes them one of the most wind-resistant choices available. Clay and slate roofs are highly fire resistant, and these materials are impervious to insect damage and rot.

Despite their qualities, these roofs do come with a few disadvantages. Cost can be a big issue. These factors all drive up the price of slate and clay tile:

According to Architect Magazine, most builders will add 10 to 20-percent more to the cost of a slate roof just to cover breakage losses during shipping and installation. In some instances, these roofs can cost as much as a home.

The extreme weight of clay and tile roofing can pose another problem. Some homes simply do not have enough structural support to bear the weight of these products, so extra reinforcement may be required.

Impact damage (read: hail) and weather are further weak points, something we in Oklahoma know plenty about. Large hail hitting a roof can shatter slate shingles and clay tiles. Rapid freeze-thaw cycles – particularly after recent rains – can also cause breakage.

What about synthetics?

Synthetic Roof shingles

Even with the disadvantages, some homeowners still prefer real roofing materials for aesthetic purposes. However, if you want to avoid some of the hassles associated with the real deal, synthetic alternatives are an attractive option.

Most faux products boast a 50-year lifespan, which is longer than a wood roof, but a bit shorter than the life of stone and clay roofing. There are also several other advantages to consider:

In addition to these advantages, faux wood products don’t harbor wood-destroying pests, and they are resistant to rot, mold and other problems that are common with real wood roofing.

Synthetic roofing isn’t perfect, however. Cost is a drawback for some homeowners. While faux roofing often costs less than the real thing, these products are still more expensive than asphalt shingles.

Aesthetics are another concern. Synthetic products replicate wood grain, stone texture and natural coloring fairly well, but a close examination will reveal the differences. Manufacturers simply can’t recreate the infinite colors and textures found in natural products. However, experienced contractors are well aware of this, and they will take steps to randomize colors and patterns, thereby avoiding a fake, repetitive look.

If you have more questions about real and faux roofing products, Elliott Roofing can help you make the right choice. With extensive experience among a variety of materials, we can help you find an option that not only looks great, but will add lasting value to your home. Contact us today!

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