Synthetic Slate Shingles vs. Asphalt Shingles (Pros, Cons & Costs)

Are you in the market for a new roofing alternative? If your roof has seen better days, you’ve probably started to look into solutions. The good news is there are plenty of options but when it comes down to it, synthetic slate shingles and asphalt shingles are two fantastic candidates. 

Both synthetic slate shingles and asphalt shingles are regular household go-to’s thanks to their lasting durability, longevity and reputation. However the solution will all depend on your budget and look preferences. Asphalt shingles are the go to for households worldwide due to their cost effective, timeless approach. Synthetic slate shingles are the up and coming underdog with a promising lifetime and the appeal of genuine slate.

In this article, we will dive into the pros and cons of synthetic slate and asphalt shingles and everything you can expect with both. While they both have their perks and downfalls, you should have a better understanding of which type of shingle will better suit your home in the long run. 

What are Synthetic Slate Shingles?

Let’s start by introducing the synthetic slate shingles. While you are likely familiar with genuine slate shingles, synthetic ones are a modern day improvement on the classics. They are made by injecting petroleum based materials into metal forms cast from genuine slate. These combinations of plastic and rubber are all designed to mirror the beautiful look of authentic slate without the hefty cost. Installation is also a smoother process! 

And, even better? Synthetic slate is built to last longer than the real stuff. Synthetic Slate means longevity, durability and that same beauty you can get from genuine slate.

Pros of Synthetic Slate Shingles 

Synthetic slate shingles offer a plethora of perks when it comes to nailing down your roof (literally!) From low cost options to being an environmentally friendly material, you really can’t go wrong. They are a typically low maintenance build and an easy installation so many consumers jump at the idea of them. Let’s dive into the Pros:

Affordable Cost 

Synthetic Slate shingles mostly fall in the middle when it comes to cost but they are still less expensive than the main alternative– authentic slate. Synthetic shingles can last up to 100 years and usually come with a 50 year warranty, so combining that with the affordable cost is a huge perk. 

Expect to pay roughly ten to twelve dollars per square foot. Speaking with a contractor can help you to determine the true costs combined with labor. Keep in mind, synthetic slate goes down quicker than other materials so the labor fees will be less as well. 

The cost is certainly a huge factor and when it’s affordable, it’s more attractive to the consumer.

Environmentally Friendly

One incredible benefit to owning synthetic slate shingle roofs is that they are considered “green,” and environmentally friendly. Thanks to the materials used which are mostly plastic and rubber, that makes these shingles entirely recyclable even after a long lifetime. Those who are passionate about the earth and reusing and recycling will rejoice at this eco-friendly option.

Common Material 

Synthetic slate is a commonly used material, thanks to its installation friendly approach. It is nowhere near the weight of asphalt or true slate, so it’s easy to handle and install. The process is smoother because they are cut and laid simply and quickly. This common roofing solution is plentiful and sought after for its user-friendly qualities. 

No Regular Maintenance 

You don’t have to expect that you’ll need regular maintenance. Sure, there may be a time or two that you need to replace a shingle or section due to damage. However, keep in mind that these shingles are not only weather resistant but they are fire resistant as well. These are built tough enough for any storm or lifetime. 

Cons of Synthetic Slate Shingles 

There are a few negative factors to synthetic slate shingles. While they are built strong and tough, they do face fire rating issues, questionable longevity that has yet to be proven and a bigger cost than some other materials on the market. Let’s discuss some of the main downfalls of synthetic slate shingles. 

Fire Rating Issues 

Not all brands of synthetic slate shingles have passed the standards of fire rating. Since they are synthetic and made of injected materials such as rubber and plastic, they may not be up to par to some of the others on the market. Just be certain to do research on the brand you choose. It isn’t the case for all, but it is for some. 


This is a tough one. While they are BUILT to last up to 100 years, they haven’t been around long enough to prove their point. This up and coming product has definitely proved a good reputation so far, but the true longevity is questionable at this point. Are you taking a risk? Maybe, but keep in mind that other roof materials are only built to last 15-20 years so the risk seems small in the long run. 

What Are Asphalt Shingles? 

Asphalt shingles are the single most common type of roof you see on houses today. Due to affordable cost and the longevity they offer, they have proven themselves to be a reliable material. There are different types of asphalt, but all are waterproof, sturdy and dependable. 

Since the early 1900’s, the world has relied on asphalt for many purposes and most popularly, roofing. 

Pros of Asphalt Shingles 

The thing that consumers love so much about asphalt shingles is that it’s the most affordable option on the market. They’re a tried and true material that holds up over a good course of years, easy to replace, install and look great on any home. Here are some of the main benefits in detail: 

They’re Inexpensive 

This one is a no brainer- installing a new roof is a costly process and not everyone can afford the best of the best. The good news is that this is the cheapest option, but also a durable, timeless one. The process of making an asphalt shingle is far less expensive than other materials so you can expect to pay a more affordable cost overall. 

You can expect to pay roughly three to six dollars per square foot- nearly half of what it would cost for a synthetic slate roof. So if you’re on a strict budget, asphalt shingles are the best solution. 

Easy To Install 

Easy to install means lower labor fees, overall. This is a huge perk to having an asphalt roof installed. They are relatively lightweight, simple to cut and easy to install so expect the whole process to take roughly one to two days. Laborers have been installing asphalt roofs for over a century so the whole thing should be pretty effortless. 

Easy To Replace 

If you end up needing to replace a shingle or section, the good news is it’s an easy process. They can be fixed as easily as they were laid. Contact your contractor for help regarding a replacement if needed. Winds and storms can sometimes get the better of your asphalt roof so you may need maintenance from time to time. 

Fit the Style of Any Home 

Asphalt roofs are a neutral, appealing shade of gray that match and blend well with nearly any color palette. This is a huge perk because it’s going to compliment any color or style home you have. Bricks, vinyl siding or stone- it doesn’t matter. 

Asphalt roofs have that timeless look thanks to their basic color palette that brings out the best in the appeal of your home. That deep multi-gray tone will always be a good solution for any home or building.

Cons of Asphalt Shingles 

Surely, asphalt shingles are not without fault. They have a record of being vulnerable to wind and weather conditions. Not only that but over time they may start to crack and don’t always last as long as other material options. While they are the world’s go-to for roofing, you can’t expect total perfection. Here are some of the cons to asphalt shingles:

Vulnerable to Wind 

If you live in an area that suffers from regular storms, you may want to be aware of the fact that asphalt shingles are not super wind resistant. They can sometimes show their vulnerability to high wind damage due to the high fastening design of installation.

 The way that the nails are installed means that shingles can be subject to slippage and displacement from their original position. A strong sealant is a definite so make sure to discuss with your contractor before deciding. 

They Crack 

Another weather induced damage factor is cracking. Volatiles are a compound found in the asphalt mixture that creates the ever-popular shingle. However they are prone to evaporation and moisture over time which causes the asphalt to shrink. This makes the asphalt shingle crack and will need to be replaced to ensure water damage doesn’t enter the home. 

It can cause permanent damage to your home if you don’t address the broken shingles right away, so this is one headache that can happen with asphalt shingles. 

Need To Be Installed During Warm Weather 

While it doesnt need to be in the middle of summer, it is important to install a roof above freezing temperatures. The recommendation is forty and above, but the warmer, the better! Asphalt shingles are prone to cracking when benign worked with in colder temperatures. 

SInce they have to endure cutting and placing, the warmer weather is a lot more forgiving on this material. So as long as your roof doesn’t fail you in the dead of winter, you’re good to go with asphalt!

Won’t Last as Long 

They certainly don’t have a short life span by any means- In fact, it’s pretty much right down the middle. Depending on the type of asphalt, you’re looking at an average of 25 to 30 years. Not bad, right? Well, considering the cost of materials and labor, you may want to look at other options with more longevity. Although, many times budget plays into this and for a more lasting material, you may need to pay a higher cost. 

Which Type of Shingle are Cheaper 

As previously mentioned, the more cost effective option is the asphalt shingle roof. In fact, they are nearly half the price of synthetic slate. When you combine with the cost of installation, you’re looking at a big bill no matter which one you go with. But let’s get specific- here are some of the costs you might come across with both of these popular shingle choices: 

Cost Per Square FootInstallation Costs
Synthetic Slate Shingles$3-$6 $6,000-7,000
Asphalt Shingles$10-12$6,000

So while you will spend a similar amount for installation on both, thanks to their easy process and lightweight material, you will save quite a bit of money going with the asphalt shingles. 

Which Shingle Should You Choose? 

This is all dependent on your personal preferences and budget. If you’re looking for a more modern, eco-friendly approach, the synthetic slate is the best solution. It will come with a heftier price point so you’ll need to make sure you have the funds to support the decision. However, if you’re on a strict budget and cool with a classic asphalt appeal, that is the best choice. They are both durable and recommended options for roofing.


So, overall these two materials are top candidates for roofing. As you can see, they both are consumer approved, durable and attractive. Asphalt is a tried and true method with a timeless look that we all know and love. Synthetic slate is a modern approach with a genuine slate appeal without the price tag. Now that you know the specifics, you probably have a better understanding of which is the right fit for your home and your wallet.

Leave a Comment