Synthetic Roof Shingles: A Complete Homeowners’ Guide


A synthetic roof can last you for half a century (or more)

Synthetic roof shingles are the new buzz on the roofing market. So much so that from old-school shingle enthusiasts to environmentally conscious buyers to budget customers, they’ve sparked curiosity across the board. 

In fact, some homeowners in states prone to extreme weather patterns have also started to replace their existing shingles with these brand-new synthetic roofing materials. 

And that’s not a bad trade-off; after all, these shingles come with one of the best fire and wind ratings, to name a few. Not to mention that you even get top-notch aesthetics, thanks to the fact that these shingles are made to replicate cedar shakes. 

Wondering what synthetic roofing shingles have in store for you? 

Read on, as I’ve compiled a detailed synthetic roofing guide, including their pros and cons as well as what difference they can actually make. 

What are synthetic roof shingles? 

Before we delve into the specifics of synthetic roofing, let’s first understand what these shingles exactly are. 

Synthetic shake roof shingles, or composite shingles as they’re also called, these roofing shingles are usually made with 100 percent recycled materials such as PVC or post-industrial plastic. Also, you can find synthetic shingles made with recycled rubber or a mix of both plastic and rubber. 

Talking about appearance, these roofing materials are designed to look exactly like wood cedar shingles, and thus, the logic behind calling the shingles a synthetic shake. 

But how closely do they mimic cedar shingles, you might wonder? 

Well, unless you’re an industry expert and involved closely in the installation project, there’s no way you can tell the difference between actual wood shakes and synthetic shakes. 

Now, that’s interesting, isn’t it? 

Bonus: You can also find synthetic slate roofing shingles on the market

Although not as popular, synthetic shingles are also available in the form of slate roofing tiles. And as you might already have figured out, these shingles are designed to replicate classical Italian slate roofing. 

You see, slate roofs are still quite popular, especially among those homeowners who love the old European architecture. But those roofs aren’t without problems, the least of which comes in the form of heavy shingle weight and the need for frequent maintenance. 

Synthetic slate shingles provide an efficient alternative, allowing you to have the aesthetics of slate roofing without the hassle it brings. 

What are the pros and cons of synthetic roofing shingles? 

Like all things home construction or renovation, choosing roofing shingles is a huge decision. And for obvious reasons, as apart from the big-ticket investment, it also involves the overall safety and wellbeing of residents. 

This is especially true for something as new as the synthetic shake roofing shingles. 

As such, you might find yourself asking questions such as, ‘Why should I go for synthetic roofing over regular materials such as wood, asphalt, or metal?’

So, here’s a complete list of pros and cons that I’ve created after comparing synthetic shingles to popular roofing options on the market. 

The pros of synthetic roofing

#1. Synthetic roofing materials are eco-friendly 

The first thing that comes to my mind when talking about synthetic shakes is the sustainability they offer. That’s because apart from being manufactured using recycled plastic and rubber, these wood replicas are also entirely recyclable. 

Meaning at the end of their service life, you can simply take them to a recycling plant and rest assured of leaving zero carbon footprint. 

We can all agree that synthetic cedar or slate can never be the same as original wood cedar or clay-based slate. In fact, some folks will always prefer the original cedar roofing over synthetic look-alikes. 

Nevertheless, synthetic roofing materials go a long way in solving the sustainability problem of cedar as well as slate. After all, no trees were cut or natural ecosystems damaged to create aesthetically charming roof shingles. 

#2. Shingles are Class-A fire-rated 

You’ll agree when I say that fire safety is one of the biggest challenges with cedar roofing, notwithstanding the wood type or overall build quality. Moreover, there have been reports of fire accidents with cedar roofs coated with even the best fire retardants. 

But that’s not the case with synthetic shingles, which are Class-A fire-rated, the best fire rating for building materials in the country. 

To give you a perspective, with this fire rating, your shingles can withstand the worst of flames for up to 120 minutes. And this is exactly why synthetic roofing, such as eco-shake shingles, could keep properties safe during wildfires in Texas and Arizona, among others. 

In short, synthetic shake roof shingles offer you a top-notch fire-resistant roofing solution

#3. Synthetic shingles can stand extreme weather 

As a homeowner in coastal Florida, your biggest roofing concern would be the hurricane season. That’s because even the safest roof systems are vulnerable during this time, endangering the safety of residents. 

So, trusting a new roofing material with your overall safety and wellbeing can be a big deal, and I couldn’t agree more. 

But what if I told you that synthetic shingles are Class 4 impact-rated? 

You see, not only are synthetic shakes tested for wind and hail resistance, but they also carry a Class 4 impact rating. Meaning you can rest assured of complete safety even if the wind outside exceeds 188 mph. 

#4. Lightweight roofing materials 

The framing of your home is designed to bear weight only to a certain extent. And exceeding that capacity can put its structural integrity in danger. 

Now, some roofing shingles can be extremely bulky and exceed the load-bearing capacity of your home. 

For instance, wood shakes, certain metal shingles, and slate roofs are quite heavy. So, the only way you can safely install them is by building additional roof support systems. 

This is where synthetic shingles come in handy, thanks to their lightweight. 

But how light are these shingles exactly? 

Well, a typical synthetic shake roof shingle weighs about 1.25 pounds. And this is just about a quarter of wood cedar and slate tiles and half that of metal shingles. 

Not to mention, this is also lighter than most of the asphalt shingles out there. 

#5. A synthetic roof is exceptionally long-lasting 

When it comes to longevity, popular roofing materials always find themselves struggling. In fact, this is true for major roofing products across the board, including those using asphalt and wood. 

So, you might be curious if synthetic roofs are any different. 

A simple answer is yes; synthetic roofing material is built differently and thus offers a much longer lifespan compared to other materials. 

For instance, by going for a synthetic shake roof replacement, you can 2X the lifespan of your roofing compared to wood shakes. Similarly, if you’re replacing asphalt with synthetic, you can expect a 2.5X increased longevity. 

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? 

#6. Easy to install and apt for DIY

Ease of installation is another advantage that synthetic roofing offers. And this is beneficial for both contractors and homeowners. 

As a homeowner, you can conveniently replace faulty shingles or even DIY your entire roofing from the bottom up. That’s because apart from their lightweight, synthetic shingles can also be cut and shaped using regular utility knives and nailed using standard roof nails and a nail gun. 

Meaning with some essential know-how and expert assistance, you can repair or even replace your entire roofing. 

#7. Synthetic shingles need low-maintenance 

Unlike asphalt or cedar, synthetic roof shakes call for minimum maintenance. That’s because there are fewer chances of damage over time, thanks to their resilience. 

At the most, you’ll need to replace a shingle or two, which is very easy and DIY-friendly. 

The cons of synthetic roofing 

#1. Synthetic shingles are more expensive than asphalt

Despite all the shortcomings, asphalt shingles have established themselves as one of the most cost-efficient roofing options on the market. As such, you can get asphalt for as little as $2 per square foot. 

Now, that’s a price range that synthetic roofing materials like eco-shake shingles can never offer you. That’s because, from recycling PVC to creating an elegant curb appeal to ensuring fire and impact resistance, the manufacturing process increases the overall cost. 

And although this translates to more advantages, synthetic roofs lose the price battle to asphalt. 

#2. The roofing may not be as durable as metal

Metal roofing has always been the go-to solution for those homeowners who are looking for durability. And that isn’t going to change anytime soon. 

That’s because, despite the fact that synthetic roofs are Class 4 impact-rated, metal shingles remain the most trusted material for sturdiness. 

#3. Metal roofs need zero maintenance

Although synthetic roofs are a low-maintenance solution, they’re still susceptible to wear and tear. So, you might need to undertake some maintenance, including changing the worn-out shakes. 

On the contrary, some metal roofing shingles offer a truly zero maintenance solution, as you need not repair or replace anything. 

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How much do synthetic roofing shingles cost? 

According to figures from the American Society of Home Inspectors, the average cost of systematic roof shingles ranges between $7.50 to $13 per square foot

However, these are average estimates, and the actual price might vary depending on factors such as brand, design, location, etc. 

Now, while this is a pricier option compared to asphalt and cedar, you’re sure to recover those extra bucks, thanks to the exceptionally long-lasting and low maintenance. 

How long will a synthetic roof last you? 

As we discussed earlier, synthetic shake roof shingles have a lifespan that is over 2X longer than that of a lot of traditional roofing materials. 

In terms of total years, you can expect an average synthetic shingle-based roofing system to last you for 50 years or more. 

In fact, to reinforce the idea of longevity, a lot of manufacturers even provide long warranties spanning up to 50 years. Meaning you can expect warranty coverage for the entire service life of your roof shingles. 

Awesome, right? 

Are synthetic shake roof shingles apt for DIY? 

Yes, certainly. 

You see, unlike metal, wood, or asphalt shingles that need specialized tools and expertise for installation, you only need some basic skills and tools for synthetic shakes. 

For instance, you can cut the shingles into your required shape and size using an ordinary knife. Similarly, the shingles can be installed in place with regular roof nails. 

So, if you have a basic knowledge of roofing installation, DIY shouldn’t be an issue. 


Even though DIY installation is possible with synthetic shakes, I strongly suggest you do so under an expert’s supervision.

Also, I suggest you read all the local construction laws and determine beforehand whether or not DIY roofing installation is permitted.

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As you can see, synthetic roof shingles are offering a truly one-stop solution for just about every homeowner. From elegance to sustainability to endurance to longevity, and more, you name it, and these shingles have got you covered. 

It’s true that the existing cost of synthetic shake is on the higher end, especially when compared to average roofing materials. But factor in the impressive payback, and you’ll find the upfront investment totally worthwhile. 

Looking to source synthetic roofing shingles for your new home or existing roof replacement? 

You can reach out to us. 

At Eco-$mart Inc., we’ve got the largest inventory of eco-friendly materials covering every aspect of home construction. And we can help you build your home exactly how you want it from 100 percent sustainable and solid materials. 


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