If you have visited model homes or attended building product
shows recently, including the 2005 International Roofing Expo, you
might have noticed many building material manufacturers have begun
to produce "synthetic replicas" of traditional building materials,
including wood siding, fencing, decking, dimensional lumber for
fascia and soffits, architectural millwork, tile, brick, stone and
roof coverings. And some of these manufacturers have seized the
opportunity to focus on synthetic products that imitate traditional
high-end steep-slope roofing products, including natural slate,
cedar shingles and shakes, and clay and concrete tile.
Webster's II New College Dictionary defines "synthetic"
as "artificial" or "manmade." For the purposes of this article,
"synthetic" as it pertains to steep-slope roofing materials refers
to manufactured products that replicate asphalt shingles, concrete
and clay tile, metal panels, slate, and wood shakes and shingles
that contain recycled plastic and/or rubber as a key
Synthetic roof coverings are making a presence in the roofing
market because of several factors. These include the ongoing
efforts of various recycling organizations and energy-conservation
groups to cut down on landfill waste and reduce manufacturing
energy costs. The recycling effort, coupled with the maturity of
thermoset and thermoplastic polymer technology, has provided an
abundance of recyclable raw materials used to manufacture synthetic
roof coverings. An informal survey I conducted in March of seven
synthetic roof covering manufacturers shows recycled plastic and
rubber materials account for 60 percent to 90 percent by weight of
finished synthetic products.
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