“Hey Vern! 

Question about slate roofing. 

Our home is early 1900s. The current roof- asphalt shingle- is in bad shape and needs replaced in the next year. 

Our neighborhood is mixed historical and newer build- so there won’t be any problems with putting a new asphalt shingle roof on. But there are homes on our street with traditional slate roofing. I’d love to go for it, but that’s not in the budget. 

You have slate alternatives listed on your service site. Could you give me a breakdown of some options?


Eddy from Pottsville, PA

Eddy- great question!

Switching roofing materials is a bold choice. Most people just ‘go with what they know’ but with so many options available, I’m happy to give you a little insight into what alternatives you have to slate.

First, know what your personal perimeters are.

    • What’s your budget?
    • How much maintenance is too much?
    • Do you plan to sell your current home (and how soon)?
    • How much weight can your house support?

That last one is a bit of a bonus, and your might need a contractor to help you assess your weight load, but having an idea of your own expectations will help you narrow down your options faster.

The good news? You have plenty of options that mimic the design of a slate roof if you don’t want to install traditional slate. Here’s a quick primer.

First: Traditional Slate Roof

Roofing by Martin Roofing and Siding

First, let’s look at your dream roof so we have a comparison.

At $19 a square foot, you’re right- slate is not a low cost option. Compare it with your current asphalt shingles and the price difference is astronomical.

It is worth noting that slate is designed to last up to a hundred years and require next to no upkeep or maintenance. Not needing to replace your roof every thirty years is a huge money saver in the long run.

I’ll let you in on another secret, something your neighbors have already figured out; slate roofs increase your home value. It also increases how fast you can sell your home. But there’s a cost vs. benefit balance here to consider…

If you’re looking to move within the next five years, slate roofing is not a good decision. Slate is made to last and it’s not worth the money if you won’t be living in your current home long term or aren’t a period home aficionado. After all, when you install a high end material like slate, you want to be able to enjoy it.

With slate, the structure of your home also comes into play. Slate is incredibly heavy, weighing 4x more than an asphalt roof. Some old houses can’t support that kind of weight.

All this to say, even if you love the idea of slate, your house may not be a possible candidate for a slate roof.

So…your options? Take a look.

Synthetic Slate- A Slate Roofing Alternative 

synthetic slate roof

Synthetic slate highlights the best qualities of slate roofing at a lower price of $15 per square foot (about 20% less than traditional slate). Like regular slate, this alternative looks beautiful on old homes.

Made from a combination of rubber, plastic, and recycled materials, synthetic slate is the green alternative. Plus, at the end of your roof’s lifespan, the materials can be recycled again- something that appeals to next generation buyers.

Much like slate, synthetic slate requires little-to-no maintenance. On top of that, it’s easy (and inexpensive), much like asphalt shingle.

The biggest issue to consider about synthetic slate is that it can be a fire hazard. (The highest fire rating a roof can receive is class A. Synthetic roofing only receives a class C ranking.)

Now let’s look at some of the slate-look asphalt shingle options from GAF.

Slate-Look Asphalt Shingles From GAF

slate look asphalt shingles

North America’s largest shingle manufacturer, GAF, creates high quality shingles right here in Pennsylvania. At $7.50 per square foot, it’s a huge price drop in comparison to slate and synthetic slate.

GAF offers a fifty year warranty on their product. Though not as long lasting as the hundred years that slate boasts, the product longevity makes it a good choice if you don’t plan on selling soon…and the price makes it a good choice if you do. Win win.

GAF shingles are easy to install and work great with any home structure. There are even shingles that are made to resemble slate so you can get a similar upscale look without the weight. 

One of the downsides?  You’ll have more maintenance with asphalt shingle than with slate. Checking your roof for damage seasonally is a good practice for any homeowner, but it’s especially important for homes with asphalt shingle.

The Best Roof for Your House

Eddy, I hope this helps. If you’d like to see what your home would like with any of these options, or look at these materials side-by-side in person, give us a call at 570-345-0406 and we can help you out.

Thanks- and happy roofing!


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