What are Plastic Shingles?
Plastic shingles, sometimes referred to as synthetic or composite shingles, are popular for their low cost and their ability to imitate more expensive types of roofing like cedar or slate. Plastic roofing shingles are lightweight and easy to install. They typically have a simple interlocking system, making them a good DIY project. Because plastic is so much lighter than most roofing products, you don’t have to worry about adding any additional structural support to your home to support the weight of your roof.
The innate flexibility of plastic also provides a durable barrier from wind, rain, and hail, and you can even walk on it without causing damage. Plastic shingles are also resistant to many of the problems that plague more traditional wood roofing products like mold, mildew, fungus, rot, or insect infestation. Many plastic roofing products come with a 50 year warranty.
Cost of Plastic Shingles
The biggest downside to plastic shingles is that the premium styles are expensive. “Any shake or slate-like roofs will run about $400 per square, at least four times as much as asphalt shingles.” If you are committed to the look of a slate or cedar roof though, plastic shingles that create a similar appearance are your most budget-friendly option.
Plastic is probably not your first thought when it comes to eco-friendly roofing. The problem with plastic is that it doesn’t go away. We know that it breaks apart into smaller pieces, but it’s basic components are not biodegradable, meaning that your plastic products will spend many lifetimes in a landfill. However, plastic composite roofing is actually a good way to put that plastic to re-use.
Because plastic shingles are so inexpensive, you can make the conscious choice to decrease your environmental footprint by investing a little more money to purchase recycled plastic shingles. Take advantage of plastic’s relative immortality with a roof that will last you a long time, while helping divert existing plastic from landfills. Plastic is also smooth, making it ideal for rainwater collection. Finally, because plastic is so lightweight, the cost of transporting it (and the CO2 emissions that come with that process) is diminished.
Maintenance of Plastic Shingles
Plastic shingles are virtually maintenance free. But because they typically come in sheets, if you do experience cracking, you will need to replace the entire sheet to prevent further damage.
Common Concerns with Plastic Shingles
The are two primary complaints about plastic shingles. First, even though they are made to replicate the look of more expensive roofing like tile and slate, once installed their thin nature and shiny finish can make it easy to tell that they are indeed plastic. Secondly, polypropylene, a highly fragile material found in most plastic shingles makes them highly vulnerable to cracking and breakage during the winter. In general, plastic shingles are not a great choice for very cold climates.
It’s also important to note that plastic shingles have varying levels of fire resistance. Make sure to invest in a product that has a Class A fire proof designation for your home.