Natural Slate vs. Synthetic Slate

Saturday April 20, 2013

By Christophor Jurin

Slate roof system

Very few roofing materials have stood the test of time as well as natural slate. It's durable, fireproof and aesthetically pleasing. With all of these things being considered, there are limitations to the product that inhibit homeowners and building owners from installing a slate roof system. Some of these limitations include the weight of a slate roof system as well as the cost to install a slate roof system. Natural slate repairs also require specialized tools such as a slate ripper.

Structures must be built in a way that allows them to handle the installed weight of a slate roof system. Most conventionally built homes and structures are not designed to handle the weight of a slate roof system which can be in excess of seven pounds per square foot. This is as much as three times the weight of a conventional asphalt roof system. This limitation keeps many homeowners from installing and enjoying the benefits of a natural slate roof system.

The costs associated with installing a slate roof system may be prohibitive as well. Natural roof slates are generally much higher in price than a standard asphalt roof shingle. In addition, slate roofs are more labor intensive to install and, as a result, cost more from an installation point of view. In combination, slate roofs can cost significantly more than a conventional asphalt shingle roof system.

Synthetic slate tiles

Roofing manufacturers have reacted to the increased demand in the market for imitation slate products for customers who want the slate look but for various reasons cannot install a slate roof on their building. These imitation slate products are manufactured from lightweight synthetic materials to emulate the appearance of natural slate. They are lighter in weight which allows them to be installed on more types of structures. They are lower in cost than traditional slate which makes them more affordable for buyers. They present a quality option for buyers who desire to have the appearance of a slate roof system but don't have the budget or structure for one.

If you have a slate roof system on your home or business, it is recommended that you continue to maintain your roof by inspecting it regularly and repairing the slate roof system to prevent any deterioration of the slate roof. The cost of maintenance is much less than replacement if you desire to maintain the look of the natural slate. If the roof system eventually requires replacement and natural slate is not an option, there are many synthetic options available on the market which can provide you with a similar look at a lower price.

Have you seen an installed synthetic slate roof system? Do you think they are as aesthetically pleasing as real slate?

Photo © Slate roof system on home.

Photo © Synthetic slate tiles.


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