A Homeowner’s Guide to Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Posted by Marcos Bicalho

in Roofing

A Homeowner's Guide to Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Most residential homes in the Northeast use asphalt roofing shingles. With a vast array of styles and colors to choose from, they effortlessly blend affordability with functionality, offering you both protection and aesthetic charm. If a roof replacement is on your horizon, here’s what you should consider to make a well-informed decision.

Fiberglass and Organic

Asphalt roofing shingles come in two types: organic and fiberglass.

  • Organic shingles are made from waste paper saturated with asphalt to make it waterproof, with coatings of adhesive salt and ceramic granules embedded on top. The term organic is referring to the non-synthetic material they are made of, to distinguish them from fiberglass shingles.
  • Fiberglass shingles are made with a base layer of glass fiber reinforcing mat. This mat is coated with asphalt, which contains mineral fillers and makes the shingle waterproof. Fiberglass shingles look identical to organic asphalt shingles, but instead of a paper-based mat on the shingle, it is made of fiberglass base. Because there is less asphalt material in these shingles, they are lighter than organic asphalt. 

While organic shingles are more durable than fiberglass and perform better in colder climates, they are more prone to fire damage. Plus due to the paper backing on organic shingles, organic shingles will absorb more moisture, making them more likely to warp.

Fiberglass shingles are more fire-resistant and are good for homes in high-heat climates. They are also lighter than the organic shingle, making them easier to install. However, being lightweight make them more prone to wind damage and cracking in colder climates.

Cost and Warranties

Asphalt roofing shingles are one of the least expensive roofing materials you can select for your home. With a general lifespan of 15 – 30 years, asphalt shingles are the most affordable option.

Some shingle manufacturers offer several warranties based on the quality of their shingles. Regular shingles come with a 25 to 30 year warranty. Some higher end warranties, like the GAF Lifetime Warranty will offer up to 50 years on the shingle itself.

Hire a roofing company that’s certified by one of the top manufacturers that offer extended warranties. These roofing contractors can provide you with warranty on the workmanship as well as the shingle themselves. 

Styles and Color

Although you might have a certain style in mind when you think about asphalt shingles, the truth is that they come in a wide variety of options.

There are three categories of asphalt shingles based on their characteristics and pricing.

  • Three-tab shingles have cutouts along their lower edge, making each shingle look like three separate pieces once installed. These have been around the longest and are still the most economical and popular shingle.
  • Architectural shingles have no cutouts but their lower portions have an additional asphalt layer, giving them the contoured, dimensional look.
  • Luxury shingles have the appearance of authentic slate tiles and are thicker than architectural or laminated shingles. Premium asphalt shingles cost more than standard shingle types like organic asphalt, fiberglass, 3-tab and architectural shingles.

Asphalt shingles are now very versatile in look, making them hard to distinguish from slate, wood shakes or tile. The higher-end shingles can give your home the look it needs to complement its style while providing the durability and protection you need from the elements.

Color choices are more extensive today, giving you even more options depending on the style of your home. Black and brown are popular choices, but you can also choose asphalt shingles in brown, beige, blue and green. Work with your professional roofer to help you choose the best options for your home.

Ease of Installation

The great thing about asphalt shingles is the relative ease of installation. Asphalt shingles are easier to handle than heavy tile roofing or large pieces of metal roofing. Any roofing contractor with experience and proper training can install these shingles correctly. Just remember that your roof is a system, not just a layer of shingles. Research your roofing contractor to be sure they install the complete roofing system. This will ensure your roof does its job to protect your home.

Disadvantages of an asphalt shingle roof

While asphalt shingle roofs offer numerous benefits as indicated above, there are some potential disadvantages:

  1. Durability: Although asphalt shingle roofs are relatively durable, they may not be as long-lasting as some other roofing materials such as metal or tile. Depending on factors like climate and maintenance, asphalt shingle roofs typically last between 15 to 30 years. Be sure to understand your warranty to get the maximum protection for your roof materials and workmanship.
  2. Susceptibility to Weather Damage: While asphalt shingles provide decent protection against the elements, they can be vulnerable to extreme weather conditions such as heavy winds, hailstorms, and rapid temperature fluctuations. Severe weather events can lead to shingle damage, including cracking, curling, or even complete shingle loss.
  3. Maintenance Requirements: Asphalt shingle roofs require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity and performance. This includes periodic inspections for damage, cleaning of debris such as leaves and branches, and occasional repairs or replacements of damaged shingles.
  4. Environmental Impact: Because asphalt shingles are a petroleum-based product, some homeowners may be concerned about their impact on the environment. While manufacturers continue to improve the sustainability of asphalt shingles through recycling programs, their environmental impact remains a consideration for eco-conscious homeowners.

Overall, while asphalt shingle roofs are a popular and cost-effective choice for many homeowners, it’s essential to weigh these potential disadvantages against their advantages to determine if they are the right roofing option for your home.

Looking to install new asphalt roofing shingles on your home?

By understanding the various aspects of asphalt roofing shingles, you can decide what you want in style, color, durability, cost and ease of maintenance. For more information on roofing shingles and how to choose the right ones for your home, contact a certified GAF roofing contractor to help you choose the right roofing for your home.