All About Shingles – More Than Just Asphalt

Last Updated on March 18, 2022 by Kravelv

Out of sight, out of mind, or so they say. Since many of us don’t really take the time to look up at our roofs on any given day, for many homeowners, all they really know about shingles is that they’re what make up the roofs on their homes. Some will know that the shingles used to roof their homes are (most likely) made from asphalt. Beyond that, most people will just shrug and say, “well, it covers my home. What more do I need to know?”

As it turns out, there’s a very real possibility that the shingles on your roof aren’t made of asphalt. Or, more precisely, not just asphalt. What does that mean for you? Well, why not take a quick look at this article and find out?

Asphalt shingles – still the most popular choice

Plain old asphalt shingle has been around for a long time, and will likely be around for longer still. Fully 75% of American homes have roofs that are covered over in asphalt shingle, and its continued use is an indicator of just how dependable a product it is.

One of the biggest draws to asphalt shingles is that they’re relatively inexpensive; in most cases they are the least expensive roofing option available. Despite that, under the best conditions you can expect an asphalt shingle roof to last anywhere between 20 to 50 years. That’s easily longer than many of us have lived in the homes we live in now; seen from another perspective, if you were to replace your roof today with an entirely new roof, that roof could end up outlasting you at the home you’re staying in.

There are a couple of important considerations for purely asphalt shingles, though. For one, while they hold up well in both warm and cold climates, they tend to do poorly in areas that are subjected to both extremes of weather regularly. Also, asphalt shingles are lightweight, and while that’s a good thing from one point of view – you don’t need special structural support to install asphalt shingles – it also means that they can be more prone to damage from weather effects, such as hail or strong winds. So while you spend less per shingle individually, as compared to other materials, in certain circumstances you could easily find yourself having to replace the shingles regularly due to environmental damage.

Fiberglass shingles – building on a good idea

Fiberglass shingles are something of a misnomer: they’re not actually made of pure fiberglass. Rather, they’re asphalt shingles with a base of fiberglass, rather than the felt which is normal for “regular” asphalt shingles; for this reason, “regular” shingles are often referred to as “organic” shingles, in contrast to shingles with a fiberglass mat. This results in a shingle which is more resilient and even lighter than the normal roofing shingle.

Many architects and builders sing the praises for fiberglass shingles. The lighter weight, and the fact that fiberglass shingles have a class A fire rating, make for an excellent, and versatile, construction material. Too, since they use less asphalt than regular shingles, they are also seen as a greener alternative, despite both types of shingles being readily recyclable.

On the other hand, the lighter fiberglass shingle can end up sustaining more damage in situations where regular shingles wouldn’t, simply because there is less material to cushion the damage. Also, exposure to cold can cause fiberglass shingles to become brittle, reducing their overall life expectancy when compared to regular shingles.

Architectural shingles

Architectural shingles, also known as laminated shingles or dimensional shingles, represent the high end of the shingle market. Where your plain old asphalt shingle is generally the most inexpensive product on the market, architectural shingles are the pinnacle of roofing shingles, with both price and quality to match.

Architectural shingles are also called dimensional shingles because of the way that they are able to provide a fully three-dimensional appearance for your roof. Much thicker than organic or fiberglass shingles, the multiple layers of material are sealed with an asphalt sealant that reinforces the shingle’s durability and ability to resist water intrusion, improving its performance over that of regular shingles even as they add definition and texture to your roof.

Though architectural shingles will be more expensive than your normal, regular roofing shingle, they still cost less than even the least expensive metal roof might, and certainly much much less than one roofed over with wooden shingles or shakes. In all, architectural shingles are a great choice for those who can afford to spend a little extra on their roofing shingles.


Author Bio:

Gary Howard took over the helm of Howard Roofing & Home Improvements after his father, company founder Bobby Howard, retired. With 16 years of experience already in the roofing industry, Gary has brought the company to new levels while maintaining the same ethics as his father and predecessor.


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