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Faux Slate Roof Lasts Longer Than Real Thing

What comes in gray, red or green, lasts more than 50 years, and looks just like a slate roof? It's recycled plastic and rubber roofing tiles-- no kidding, these tiles are dead ringers for natural slate tiles. It's the latest in synthetic building materials, just now beginning to appear on roofs around the country. Although costlier than natural tiles, which might explain why they haven't caught on yet, synthetic tiles last much longer and are easier to handle than asphalt shingles.

Sometimes we Americans don't always catch on as fast as our fellow homeowners abroad. Rubber and plastic roofing tiles have been around in Ireland for more than 20 years, and one major manufacturer, Crowe Building Products, is located in Canada. But distributors are popping up in the U.S., like Authentic Roof tiles in Maine. Homeowners and professional roofers are attracted by their longevity and 50-year plus warranties. These tiles do not split apart the way slate tiles do when water gets into the roof and freezes. With double the life of regular slate roofs, these higher priced tiles are worth considering. It's easier to invest more upfront knowing that you won't have to replace your roof again in another 20 to 25 years.

Installation goes smoothly using the manufacturer's recommendations. Authentic's 12 by 18-inch tiles have predrilled holes for standard roofing nails. They're lighter than asphalt tiles and easy to cut with a utility knife. That's a plus for do-it-yourselfers. Scalloped and hexagonal shapes are available, too. And nothing beats their appearance for homeowners wanting the authentic, old-fashioned look of slate. U.S. Century's FlexShake roof shingles are handcrafted from recycled, steel-reinforced rubber and coated with natural stone. They're a very accurate look-alike for slate.

Still, consumers will have to look beyond the higher price tag and consider whether recycled synthetic slate look-alikes are the right choice for their home or budget. Always factor the labor costs in addition to materials when comparing standard slates versus synthetic. If the contractor is familiar with installing synthetic tiles, the installation cost might be less. Do you plan to live in your home that long? Can you use your faux slate roof as a selling point?

Sources used to create this article include Muriel L. Hendrix and the Portland Press Herald.

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