Trends in roofing materials evolve, and engineered rubber plastic roofing types are growing in popularity. Many factors underpin the change. Traditional raw materials such as wood and slate are becoming harder to obtain and more costly. Updated building codes in many areas demand that roofing materials resist fire. Synthesised rubber plastic roofing materials resist fire. They give homeowners property value and an attractive, long lasting roof, and these engineered products have an additional benefit in that they can be ecologically sound.
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Rubber and Plastic Slates
Slate is a traditional roofing material, especially in the northeastern United States. Drawbacks are that its cost is high and its heavy weight necessitates extra roof support. Advantages are its beauty, durability and ability to shed snow and ice off sloped roofs. To replace natural slate, there are engineered products made from recycled plastic and rubber. These fabricated slates weigh approximately one-third of what true slate weighs. Installation can be achieved with the same techniques and tools that apply to ordinary asphalt roofing materials. Many of these are fire resistant, fade resistant and colour stable, and they come with a 50-year guarantee. They may not be able to fool the eye perfectly, but they can be a very close lookalike to natural slate.
These rubber and plastic composite slate materials can be very environmentally friendly. Some are made from content that is more than 50 per cent recycled. After their life cycle of up to 50 years, 100 per cent of those same slates can be recycled.
Rubber and Plastic Shingles
Although they may be called rubber shingles, another engineered product that is gaining in popularity is rubber and plastic roof shingles. These shingles are made from plastic bags, tires and a host of other recycled materials. The materials are heated and moulded under pressure. This preserves some of the benefits of the original materials such as the steel belting in rubber tires. They can be made to look like cedar or asphalt shingles. Some have strong fire ratings to meet building codes, can withstand very high winds and insulate well. As with rubber plastic slate, warranties are available for up to 50 years. The amortisation of these roof shingles over their projected lifetime can be favourable when compared with asphalt shingles. However, they can cost up to four times as much as asphalt.
Rubber and Plastic Panels
Rubber and plastic roofing panels have the advantage of providing quicker installation than individual shingles. The panels are sold in sections that have stamped or embossed images of slates or shakes on them, usually in rows of three, six or nine. The problem that these synthetic panels can have is known as the “chicklet” effect. If one panel fades more than the panels adjacent to it, the roof can look like a checkerboard. On a roof with individual rubber and plastic combination shakes, shingles or slates, fading is more likely to occur randomly. The synthetic roof materials, individually, mimic natural materials. With panels, you lose the natural look.
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