Synthetic Roofing: Buyer’s Guide

Explore synthetic roofing options for your home. Our comprehensive guide covers material types, benefits, drawbacks, installation tips, and costs.
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Reviewed by JC Sanjuan — General and roofing contractor with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial construction. He specializes in project management, quality workmanship, client satisfaction, and solving roofing challenges.

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When it comes to roofing, there’s a lot more on the table than just asphalt shingles and metal sheets. Have you ever heard of synthetic roofing? If not, you’re in for a treat. Synthetic roofing offers a blend of durability, aesthetic appeal, and energy efficiency that traditional materials often can’t match. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of synthetic roofing.

We’ll cover what it is, the benefits, the different options you have, and even the drawbacks. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped to decide whether synthetic roofing is right for you.

What is Synthetic Roofing?

Wondering what synthetic roofing is? It’s simply roofing made from man-made materials instead of natural ones like wood or slate. Imagine getting a roof that looks like a classic, say, slate, but is actually made from tough plastics or rubber. The idea is to blend the best of both worlds: the look of traditional roofing and the strength of modern materials.

Why is this important? Because synthetic roofing tackles some big issues. It’s often lighter than other roofing, so it’s easier to handle. Plus, it’s built to fight off harsh weather, giving you peace of mind when the storm clouds roll in.

Benefits of Synthetic Roofing

So why consider synthetic roofing? Let’s break it down:


One big win is how long these roofs last. We’re talking decades here. They’re made to resist cracking, fading, and even fire.


Ever wanted the look of a cedar or slate roof without the hefty price tag? Synthetic roofing can make that happen. It mimics the look of pricier materials without breaking the bank.

Energy Efficiency

These roofs are more than just sleek; they’re smart, too. They can reflect sunlight to help keep your house cooler in the summer.

Bottom line? Synthetic roofing is durable, looks great, and can save you money on energy bills. It’s a win-win-win.

Different Options Available

Choosing a synthetic roof doesn’t mean you’re limited in style or aesthetics. There are several types of synthetic roofing materials, each with unique benefits and characteristics. Let’s dig a little deeper into the popular choices:

SLATE Arendale Hoover AL Authentic Restoration View 01
Source: Brava Roof Tile, Synthetic Slate

Synthetic Slate

This option mimics the appearance of natural slate but at a fraction of the weight. Real slate can weigh up to 1,500 pounds per square (100 square feet), whereas synthetic slate comes in at about 300 to 400 pounds per square. If your home’s structure can’t support heavy roofing, but you love the timeless elegance of slate, synthetic slate is a solid alternative.

SHAKE Aged Longboat Key 07
Source: Brava Roof Tile, Synthetic Cedar Shakes & Shingles

Synthetic Cedar Shakes & Shingles

Cedar shakes and shingles have a rustic, natural look that many homeowners adore, but they come with the headache of regular maintenance to prevent rot and insect damage. Synthetic cedar shakes and shingles offer that same charm without the upkeep. They are also resistant to fire, something natural wood can’t claim.

SPANISH BARREL Autumn 100 Post Rd New York View 16
Source: Brava Roof Tile, Synthetic Clay Tiles

Synthetic Clay Tiles

Synthetic clay tiles are an excellent choice for those drawn to the rich, earthy tones and distinct styles of Mediterranean or Southwest architecture. Natural clay tiles are delicate and can break easily, especially in colder climates. Synthetic versions are far more durable and can withstand a range of environmental conditions, from freeze-thaw cycles to scorching heat.

Pros and Cons

Every good thing has its downsides, and synthetic roofing is no exception. Here’s the lowdown:

Certainly! Here’s a more substantive version of the pros and cons section:

Pros and Cons of Synthetic Roofing

Before you make your final decision, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons. Let’s dive deeper into each.


  1. Long Life: One of the most significant selling points of synthetic roofing is its longevity. These materials are engineered to last anywhere from 40 to 70 years, depending on the type and quality. This long lifespan can translate into substantial savings as you won’t need to replace the roof as frequently.
  2. Low Maintenance: If you’re someone who’d rather spend weekends enjoying your home instead of maintaining it, synthetic roofing is a solid choice. The materials are resistant to rot, mold, and insects, meaning you’ll spend less time and money on roof maintenance.
  3. Weather-Resistant: Don’t underestimate the power of a roof that can hold its own against Mother Nature. Synthetic materials are built to withstand a wide range of conditions—from harsh UV rays to heavy rain and strong winds. Some are even rated for fire resistance, adding an extra layer of safety for your home.


  1. Cost: One of the main drawbacks is the initial cost. Synthetic roofing materials are generally more expensive than traditional options like asphalt shingles. Depending on the type and quality, you might have a significant initial outlay.
  2. Installation Complexity: A synthetic roof is not a DIY project. Specialized installation techniques are often required, and if done incorrectly, it can lead to issues like leaks or premature aging of the material. Hiring a qualified contractor is critical to avoid these pitfalls.
  3. By understanding these pros and cons, you’re better equipped to decide if synthetic roofing is right for you.

Installation Overview

Picking synthetic roofing is just step one. Now you’ve got to install it. This part is crucial because a poorly installed roof can lead to big problems down the road. Here’s what you should know:

Choose a Pro, Not a DIY

Installing a roof is complicated. A professional knows the right techniques and has the proper tools. They’ll make sure the roof lasts as long as it should.

Old Roof Removal

Usually, the old roofing material needs to go. A contractor will handle this and any needed repairs to the underlying structure.

Underlayment Comes First

Before the synthetic tiles go on, there’s an underlayment layer. This helps keep moisture out, so make sure it’s high-quality.

Installation Process

Your contractor will then start laying the synthetic tiles, typically from the bottom edge upward. This method can vary based on the type of synthetic material you chose, so contractor expertise is critical.

Sealing and Extra Protection

After all the tiles are laid, it’s time to seal the roof. This adds an extra layer of protection against leaks. Flashing is also added around places like chimneys to keep water out.

Final Checks

Before wrapping up, a good contractor does a final review. They’ll double-check for loose tiles or any areas that need more sealing.

Paperwork Matters

Remember the paperwork. Make sure you get a warranty and any certification that the job was done right. This is important for insurance and if you sell your home later.


Synthetic roofing is a game-changer. With options like synthetic slate, shakes, and clay tiles, you can tailor your roof to match your home’s style while enjoying modern benefits.

Installation isn’t a DIY venture. A skilled contractor is a must-have to ensure your investment pays off over time. You’ll indeed pay more upfront, but the longevity and low maintenance of synthetic roofing can balance those initial costs.

So, don’t overlook synthetic materials if you’re contemplating a roof upgrade. Take the time to explore your options, talk to professionals, and make an informed choice. It could be the best home improvement decision you’ll make.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is synthetic roofing?
    It’s roofing made from man-made materials that look like slate, wood, or clay.
  2. How long does it last?
    You can expect about 40 to 70 years, depending on how good the material is.
  3. Is it expensive?
    The initial cost can be high, but you save money in the long run because it lasts longer and needs less upkeep.
  4. Can I install it myself?
    It’s best to hire a professional to make sure it’s installed correctly.
  5. Is it tough against bad weather?
    Yes, it can stand up to rain, wind, and even fire.
  6. Will it help with energy bills?
    Some types can help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  7. What types can I pick from?
    You’ve got options like synthetic slate, cedar shakes, and clay tiles.
  8. Is it hard to maintain?
    No, it’s pretty easy to take care of.
  9. Can I pay in installments?
    Many companies offer payment plans, so you don’t have to pay everything upfront.
  10. What should be in the warranty?
    Look for a warranty covering issues with the materials and installation.

References: National Roofing Contractors Association. The NRCA Roofing Manual: Steep-slope Roof Systems. NRCA, 2023.

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