Asphalt Shingles – Affordable and durable
One important decision about roof replacement is what type of shingle to use. Today, asphalt shingles cover roofs on about 80 percent of all U.S. residential houses.
Invented at the turn of the 20th century, asphalt shingles were widely produced by the 1930s. Advancements continued into the 1970s when fiberglass asphalt shingles were invented. Asphalt shingles come in two varieties based on the roof’s slope – steep-slope and low-slope.
“A good quality laminated shingle looks great on just about any kind of house, any quality of home. It’s a fairly inexpensive roof and it does the trick,” Adam says.
Asphalt shingles are lightweight, low-cost and easy-to-install. They consist of:
- Base material, often fiberglass, for strength
- Modified asphalt for weather resistance and adhesion
- Mineral filler adds fire and wind resistance, and prevents weathering
- Surface coated with mineral granules rebuffs impacts, fire and ultraviolet degradation
They come in a variety of styles, textures and colors. They also are durable and offer excellent uplift and fire resistance.
“If you have an asphalt laminated shingle roof currently on your home, it probably has a 30- or 40-year warranty on it,” he says. “But you will get a hail storm during that time span.”
Organic vs. Fiberglass
Organic asphalt shingles are made of recycled felt paper saturated in asphalt for waterproofing. They are then coated with adhesive asphalt embedded with ceramic granules. Organic shingles are more rugged and flexible. But they are more absorbent than fiberglass shingles, which causes them to warp over time. They are heavier, thicker and more expensive.
Organic asphalt shingles are less “green” than fiberglass shingles because organic asphalt shingles contain about 40 percent more asphalt.
Fiberglass shingles have a woven fiberglass base mat with a waterproof asphalt coating. They’re then topped with ceramic granules to shield them from ultraviolet radiation.
“With shingles, a fiber glass mat basically covers your house. The manufacturer soaked that mat in asphalt and coated it with colored glass granules,” Adam says. “But if the hail stones are big enough or fall hard enough, they knock the granules off and crush the fiber glass strands in the core. The shingle is now compromised.”
Fiberglass shingles contain less asphalt than organic shingles. So they’re lighter and thinner, but stronger and more durable. Most importantly, they have a higher fire rating than organic varieties. They generally carry a longer warranty.
“In the short term after a hail storm, you should have no issues, no leaks, but wherever the fiber glass strand is broken, it creates an exposed cavity,” he says. “Over time, the freeze-thaw cycles will let the weather right into that cavity. But it doesn’t happen instantly.”
Lightweight, affordable and durable, three-tab asphalt shingles have an average lifespan of about 20 years. They are horizontal with three notches to give visual appeal. While 3-tab shingles are the most budget-friendly option, they have the potential for “blow-off.” “Blow-off” is the loss of shingles due to age and certain kinds of weather.
If you want strength and durability, and have wiggle room in your budget, dimensional asphalt shingles may be your best choice. Dimensional shingles use two bonded layers with a special sealant to appear thicker than the 3-tab type. You pay more upfront, but dimensional shingles last 30 years or more. They are visually more appealing due to a variety of colors and textures.
Luxury/Premium Asphalt Shingles
Want that cedar shake or natural slate look without the exorbitant cost? Luxury asphalt can give you that appearance for a fraction of the real thing. Luxury/premium asphalt shingles offer a multi-dimensional appearance.
“If you need a new roof and want something fancier and more expensive, there are comparable products on the market that insurance companies acknowledge as a ‘like’ exchange,” Adam says.
Weighing up to two times as much as 3-tab asphalt shingles per square, luxury shingles are the most durable asphalt option. And, of course, the more durable products tend to be more expensive.
“But if you’re an average homeowner with a 30-year laminate shingle on your roof now, you may just decide to go back for the same thing,” Adam says, “because ultimately we’re going to get another hall storm and you’ll replace that roof well before the 30-year mark.”