“Synthetic” as it pertains to steep-slope roofing materials refers to manufactured products that replicate asphalt shingles, concrete tile, clay tile, metal panels, slate, wood shakes and wood shingles. Synthetic roof coverings contain recycled plastic and/or rubber as a key ingredient. These products have been available since 1993.
There are some advantages to using synthetic roof coverings when compared to their traditional counterparts. Synthetic slate, or “fake slate,” for example, weighs substantially less than natural slate. The reduction in weight allows synthetic slate to be installed over conventional roof decks. Some synthetic products purport to be hail-, mold- and algae-resistant. Several synthetic cedar shake and cedar shingle manufacturers claim a labor savings, because fire-retardants or anti-algae coatings do not have to be applied to the product.