While not as long – lasting or durable as some of the premium roofing materials, asphalt shingles provide adequate protection and aesthetic appeal at only a fraction of the cost. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of composition roofing shingles to decide if this popular roofing material is the best fit for your needs.
Two Types of Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingles come in two types: organic and fiberglass. Organic shingles are paper (waste paper) saturated with asphalt to make it waterproof, with coatings of adhesive salt and ceramic granules embedded on top. 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.
While organic shingles are more durable than fiberglass ones, they are more prone to fire and are less environmentally friendly, due to high asphalt content. Fiberglass shingles offer excellent fire protection. Today, fiberglass shingles are more commonly used and are slowly replacing organic shingles.
By far the greatest advantage of composition shingles roofing is its relatively low upfront cost. This is the most affordable roofing option in the short term, which is why so many homeowners favor it. Asphalt shingles will provide your home with decent protection for at least 20 years for a very modest upfront cost.
Variety of Styles
Just because asphalt shingles are cheap, does not mean they are lacking in style. Asphalt shingles are available in 3 profiles: 3 Tab (basic), Laminated (Architectural) and Premium. Whether you have a contemporary or traditional style home, you can choose an asphalt shingles option that will be a perfect match. If you are willing to pay more, installing laminated shingles will provide a beautiful 3D look to your roof, imitating the look of natural wood or slate shingles. Asphalt shingles are manufactured in almost all colors imaginable, including blue, red, yellow and green. Numerous patterns are also available, allowing you to create an attractive custom look that will greatly enhance the appearance of your home.
Ease of Installation
Unlike most other roofing materials, which require specialized training and experience to properly install, asphalt shingles can be installed by any knowledgeable roofing contractor. It is even possible for a homeowner skilled in DIY projects to install an asphalt shingles roof on their own. Also, while asphalt shingles are not the lightest roofing material available, they are light enough to be installed on almost any roof without requiring additional structural support. Since no special tools, skills or major preparation work is required, a composition shingles roof can be installed in a matter of days.
The cost of installation is also significantly lower than what you would pay for specialty roofing materials. Fierce competition for asphalt roofing installation jobs among general contractors also contributes to fairly low labor prices, which means that if you shop around, you can get a really good deal.
As the saying goes: “you get what you pay for” and for their low prices, asphalt shingles have a considerable number of disadvantages that you need to be prepared to deal with. Here is a brief list of some of the common issues:
- Asphalt shingles get damaged if installed at below freezing temperatures.
- Attic ventilation issues can cause damage to asphalt shingles.
- Cheaper grades of asphalt shingles are susceptible to wind uplift.
- Asphalt shingles are not resistant to extreme temperature variations, which causes expansion and contraction of the shingle and subsequent cracking.
- Shingles perform better in cooler climates rather than hot temperature conditions; extreme heat causes shingles to crack and loose color.
- Regular maintenance and repairs are required and are better done before it rains or snows to prevent further damage to the shingles
- Asphalt shingles are not an environmentally friendly roofing material. They are a petroleum based product; manufacturing of shingles wastes a lot of energy and exacerbates green house gas emissions. Asphalt shingles do not get recycled and regularly end up in our landfills, after a relatively short service life compared to other, more-sustainable roofing options for homes and commercial buildings.