In regards to steep slope roofing materials, there are synthetic options on the market that may be well-suited for your property. Synthetic roof coverings are artificially manufactured to resemble standard roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, metal panels, wood shakes, concrete tiles, slate, and more. It is important to understand that synthetic roof coverings, although available, have both advantages and disadvantages depending on the particular circumstance. Continue reading to learn some chief pros and cons of artificial roof materials, and how to make the right choice for your property’s roofing system.

Synthetic Roofing Materials

Synthetic roof materials have been produced and available on the market since the early 1990’s. Since that time, they have continued to be manufactured from the same key constituents: recycled plastics, polymers, and rubber. In comparison to traditional roof coverings, imitation products are often preferred for various reasons.


One of the most common motivations among consumers is their ease and convenience. Not only are they manufactured to fit various types of steep slope roofing systems, which helps to streamline the installation process, they are also much lighter in weight. For instance, if you were to install real slate shingles, the weight would be considerably heavier than synthetic slate shingles. Beneficially, these can often be installed over existing roof decks.

Another advantage to manmade roofing is their durability and resilience. Most, but not all, synthetic roof products are resistant to inclement weather, mold, algae, corrosion, and more. This is very handy for those who want wood or cedar shake without the organic elements that come with it. Furthermore, real cedar shakes must be treated with fire-retardants or anti-algae coatings, while synthetic ones do not.


There are plenty of admirable advantages to imitation roofing materials, but there are drawbacks as well. These products are fairly new to the overall roofing market. This is unfavorable because there is not a concrete nor proven track record for performance and longevity. For instance, imitation roof coverings are often made using dyes and other coloring agents. The time line of fading and discoloration due to weathering and sun exposure are mostly unknown.

However, these are trivial issues compared to the number one disadvantage of artificial roof products: building codes. Most building codes do not permit synthetic roof coverings, which can make it very hard to have them installed professionally and in adherence to the law. You would have to check with your local building department to determine whether or not they are allowed in your town.