Updated on January 19th, 2021
Synthetic shake and shingles are polymer-based material, or a combination of plastic and rubber. They are used on roofs where homeowners desire the classic look of wood or natural slate, with the added benefits from the synthetic blends.
Synthetic shingle roofs are relatively new to the residential roofing market, first arriving in the early 1990’s. Their durability, environmental friendliness and affordability have all contributed to their rising success.
For an average-sized 2,000 sq.ft., non-complex, single-story roof, it will cost between $8.00 and $12.50 per sq.ft. installed. This results in an average total price range of $16,000 to $25,000. If the existing roof needs to be torn off and disposed of first, this can cost an additional $2,000 to $3,500 more.
A complex roof with multiple angles, dormers, and valleys, or steeper pitch than average would add to the complexity of the project and cost more as a result.
Cost of Materials
Composite shingles and fake composite slate cost virtually the same. Formation is done via a molding process to ensure it resembles wood or natural stone slates.
The material is fairly light at about 1.25 pounds per tile, so essentially all roof types can handle such installation. The tiles can easily be cut on-site with a utility knife and are attached as simply as using a nail gun.
A quality asphalt shingle roofer ought to have the basic skills to properly install synthetic shakes and tiles roofing. That said, from the workmanship quality stance, it’s always good to work with a company that specializes in the installation of a synthetic shingles and/or has a track record of installing this product successfully in the past, even if synthetic tile roofs represent only 10% or 20% of all sloped roofing jobs the company completed in the last several years.
Breaking Down Costs into Specific Examples
With any home improvement project being handled by qualified professionals, it is in your best interest to get more than one quote, or preferably between three and seven.
The quoted figures they give you will either be total installation charges (one price for everything) or they’ll ideally itemize each cost so you can better compare their rates to the competition. For the example below, we ballpark certain figures as particular items, like building permits and disposal fees vary by region.
Composite Shingle Roofing: 2,000 sq.ft. (20 roofing squares) = $20,000 (includes materials and professional installation)
Tear Off Existing Roof: $1,500
Disposal fees: $500
Additional Materials: Flashing, fasteners, underlayment, etc. = $550
Building Permit: $350
Total Project Cost = $22,900
Factors That Contribute to the Overall Cost
While material costs are roughly the same between composite shingles and fake slate, the material costs will be based on manufacturer and distributor pricing.
Normally, contractors buy products at wholesale through established distributors. There are several synthetic shingles manufacturers in the marketplace, and the popular ones are:
- CertainTeed (under their Symphony line).
- DaVinci Roofscapes makes synthetic slate, also known as fake slate.
- Enviroshake also produces synthetic shake (though crosses over into other types, despite their brand name).
Variation may occur, from brand to brand, in the length of tiles. Though the costs remain fairly uniform. With shingles, color tends to mimic natural wood, though special ordering a specific color can be had at a premium. With the “fake” slate, multiple color options do exist, and do not affect cost.
Tearing off a previous roof is a rather substantial cost, but in many cases probably unnecessary.
Synthetic tiles can be nailed right on top of existing asphalt shingles, and assuming your roof deck is in good shape, this means you can eliminate the tear-off and removal expense, which in the project example equals a significant percentage of the total cost.
Roof Layout again adds to the labor cost. The height of your roof from the ground, along with height of the peak from the lowest edge of the roof, all translate into timing considerations for professionals.
Slope of the roof is generally a determining factor, with steeper inclines costing more. Synthetic tiles are all designed for roofs with a slope factor of 3:12 or steeper.
Finally, there’s the factor of the labor charges. The manufacturer websites (above) usually have a “find a contractor” option to aid you in your search, and to ensure their product is done by a certified and experienced professional.
In other words, it makes their product look better when it’s done right. However, the synthetic shingles are on the easier side of sloped roofing installations compared to natural slate or cedar shakes, and hence the cost savings could conceivably come from a local roofer who is established and able to back up, via warranty, their work.
Benefits and Value
With a lighter material that is relatively easy to install may come the misconception that it is not very durable. The opposite is in fact the case. Usually, warranties for the material are 50 years or more. It’s built to last as long as natural slate while costing about one third the price of the natural material.
It’s also not fragile, which natural slate cannot say. With the natural slate, walking on it, unless you know what you’re doing can lead to significant problems. With “fake” slate, you can march on it, and it won’t adversely affect the installation.
Another positive with the durability is your return on investment, or ROI. EnviroShake estimates a 70 to 80 percent ROI with their products.
To top it off, the synthetic material is recyclable. Some of the manufacturers will use material that’s non-recycled, while others use high quality recycled material. The synthetic material from the curb closely resembles natural wood and slate, but up close it is possible to tell the difference from the natural product. However, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between the non-recycled and recycled synthetic materials.
- hail resistant
- handles extreme temperature changes, plus withstands up to 180 mph winds before pieces fly off
- replacement pieces are easy to obtain
- resistant to mold, mildew, fungus, rot, or insect infestation
Words of Caution with Synthetic Shingles and Shakes
- It being a relatively new material, it doesn’t have the track record of its natural counterparts like cedar shingles and natural slate tiles, though synthetic shingles advantages possibly outweigh this concern. The key disadvantage is that warranties aren’t truly established (yet).
- It’s possible local building codes may not permit a product that is so new to the market. Unlikely, but calling your local or county commissions is perhaps a first step to take when undergoing your roofing project
- Colors are blended throughout the material and believed to last a long time (many decades) before they fade. Or when they do fade, will do so uniformly. Though again, with only 25 years of field testing, the facts on this are truly to be determined.