Crowe Building Products Ltd. is the Canadian manufacturer of Authentic Roof™, the world’s first synthetic slate made from a proprietary blend of the most resilient recycled polymers. David Soyka reports on how this environmentally-friendly and highly durable product puts a roof with classic appeal over people’s heads at a reduced cost.
These days, so-called “green” construction – using materials and practices that reduce the carbon footprint – is growing in popularity. The key factor driving this: a concern for the environment that dovetails with economic pay-off. Of course, many of the green technologies touted today have been around since the first Earth Day. It’s just taken awhile for everyone else to catch up.
A case in point is Authentic Roof, the very first synthetic slate roofing product, which was “green” before green even became a concern. It was invented back in 1988 by James P. Crowe, a Canadian custom builder and third generation descendant of renowned Irish masons and home builders, who was in fact one of the founding members of the Build-Green Program adopted by the Greater Toronto Homer Builders Association in Ontario, Canada. Crowe’s revolutionary invention was designed specifically to be an improvement on real slate not only in appearance and ease-ofinstallation, but in performance and affordability. Today, the Authentic Roof product has evolved into arguably the most superior roofing material in the world.
Twenty years later, Crowe Building Products Ltd., based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is the premier global supplier of synthetic slate roofing, and the Authentic Roof product is available in an array of different colors and designs. As the original innovator, the company maintains its leading edge position by staying ahead of those who can only try to follow. “Still today, there is no product even remotely close to Authentic Roof,” says Executive Vice President Jimmy Crowe, son of the company founder who also continues to serve as president and CEO. “We pioneered the concept of a synthetic roof that has all the benefits of real slate with none of the drawbacks. The value Authentic Roof delivers to all of our customers is validated through the quality of our product; this is what sets us infinitely ahead of all others that may appear to be similar. The research and development that we’ve contributed to not only the Authentic Roof product but the entire synthetic slate market itself, is unprecedented – we created it.”
He adds, “Various ‘me-too’ versions of our world class product have come and gone over the years and they will likely continue to do so. We don’t get mad, we get even. And we do it by delivering true value to our customers. Today, the material composition of our slates has reached near perfection. They do not split, crack, break or fade. Authentic Roof is not only made from primarily recycled materials, it is the only product of its kind that is also 100 percent recyclable itself; therefore, any cosmetically damaged or unused materials can be recycled and made into new slates or products. Authentic Roof slates have been described by others as virtually indestructible. Our product is literally light years ahead of all other synthetic slate roofing materials. Authentic Roof is really the only proven product of its kind. It has been tried and tested to last just as long as real slate if not longer without the steep cost and rigorous maintenance; and it has a 20-plus year track record to substantiate this claim – another world first. Best of all, it looks absolutely magnificent.”
The many advantages Authentic Roof offers are rooted in an advanced materials manufacturing technology that utilizes a proprietary base called ACE Compound, an extremely durable, impact- and heat-resistance thermoplastic. The ACE Compound is mixed with recycled polymers as well as Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) Class A rated flame retardant and ultraviolet (UV) protective additives. Moreover, the polymers are blended on a molecular level without the use of binding agents or plasticizers, which are harmful to the environment.
“Because it’s made from plastic, Authentic Roof is highly durable,” Crowe explains. “Our roof doesn’t fade from sunlight because it has built-in UV protection that is unrivaled in the industry, with a composite base protection capable of enduring through 15,000 hours of direct Arizona-level sun exposure. The way the plastic is formulated delivers what’s called a ‘color-through’ finished product, meaning the actual color goes all the way through the material, and is not just coated onto the surface. The color is going to look as stellar as the day the roof was installed for virtually the life of the roof, which we guarantee for 50 years. That guarantee is transferable and is competitive with all high-end roofing materials. We like to say that when our customers put an Authentic Roof on, it’s the last roof they’ll ever need to put on.”
Crowe adds, “Authentic Roof is virtually indestructible to any weather conditions, no matter how extreme. Authentic Roof offers the highest category impact testing available, Class 4 (UL 2218), as tested and certified by UL. Whether it’s hail or a hammer, it doesn’t matter. In fact, there’s a video on You Tube that shows you just how impervious our roof is to any kind of impact.”
Plastic also makes the product lighter. “Installers love us,” Crowe says. What would you rather be carrying on your shoulder up on a rooftop? Roofing material made of plastic or of slate? The weight of Authentic Roof slates is quite similar to that of standard shingles and is approximately four times lighter than its real slate counterpart. Not only does that make it easier to handle, it makes it considerably safer to handle. Real slate can chip or break and fall off the roof, causing potential hazards to those below. In addition, Authentic Roof does not require any specialty underlayment, so it makes the job that much easier and cost effective. Authentic Roof can be installed directly over top of any standard G2 rated fiberglass base-sheet and the result is a CLASS A roof structure as approved and certified by UL. No other synthetic slate offers the highest level of fire protection at the most affordable price. Though we do recommend that only qualified installers apply Authentic Roof, anyone with basic handiwork skills could install our product. It’s that simple and easy to work with.”
A plastic roof also acts as an insulator, which has two benefits. First, it doesn’t attract lightning or attract electricity in any way. Secondly, it helps maintain interior heating and air conditioning levels and reduce energy expenditure that otherwise might be literally going through the roof. “If a family’s home is their castle, Authentic Roof provides the ultimate shield that protects them from harm that can hit them from both the weather and the utility company,” Crowe says.
ENERGY EFFICIENT, LESS EXPENSIVE
Of course, improved energy efficiency, coupled with recyclable construction, ties right in with Authentic Roof’s status as a green building material. On top of all that, Authentic Roof is less expensive than traditional slate, almost as much one third less in cost.
Authentic Roof (www.authenticroof.com) is sold throughout North America through distributors and big box retailers such as 84 Lumber, ABC Supply Co. Allied Building Products, Bradco Supply and Lowe’s. It is also fully certified internationally and is currently distributed to Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. “Europe is an emerging market for us and it has absolutely huge potential for a quality product such as Authentic Roof. Sources tell us that other North American synthetic slates have tried to make it into the European markets but almost all others have failed because they did not live up to the premium standards over-seas,” Crowe says. This alone speaks volumes to the quality of the Authentic Roof product.
Crowe Building Products currently manufactures the Authentic Roof product through sub-contractors. “Bringing manufacturing in-house is something we’ve been considering,” Crowe says. “However, all of our contract manufacturers must perform to our quality standards to produce product for us. We won’t deal with anybody who can’t ensure satisfaction of our rigorous performance criteria.”
That performance has won accolades not only in historical restoration, but also in new “healthy” construction for both residential and commercial buildings. Authentic Roof has received approval status from U.S. and Canadian historical societies for house restoration. For example, Authentic Roof tops the John Thurston Clark Memorial Building in Fredericton, New Brunswick, one of the most recognized designated historical sites on the east coast of Canada, and also covers historical buildings at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia, among other universities throughout North America.
In addition, Authentic Roof is ideal for today’s “healthy home” that seeks to reduce pollutants and carbon footprint. Two examples were a house in Kanata, Ontario, featured in Popular Science magazine, and another healthy home in Warren, Vt., featured in Builder/Architect magazine. Authentic Roof was also selected by the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa, Ontario for its “The House of the Future” display.
With green building practices continuing to grow in popularity, this roof maker thinks the sky’s the limit in terms of market growth. “Authentic Roof is unparalleled as a market leader,” Crowe says. “At the same time, we’re considering some new product introductions that will similarly result in a unique and groundbreaking application of building materials.”
While the company is not yet prepared to release details, you can be assured that whatever new products might be on the horizon, they, like Authentic Roof, will provide something equally as groundbreaking.