The vast majority of Americans rely on asphalt shingles for their roofing needs, and for good reason. As one of the most widely available and affordable materials in housing development, they’re a simple choice for families on a budget. But did you know that there are several different types of shingles, some that could transform your rooftop for the better?
Today, we’ll be answering some key questions about shingles, such as “What are asphalt roof shingles made of?” We’ll also explore alternatives currently available on the market. By the end, you’ll either feel more confident about your current shingles, or you’ll be inspired to try another style! Let’s dive in.
What are Asphalt Roof Shingles?
Like we said, asphalt roof shingles are the most popular residential roofing solution in the United States, by far. These shingles are composed of several materials, including: asphalt, sealant, surface granules, and fiberglass.
Asphalt is the primary ingredient in these shingles that is responsible for blocking moisture. Manufacturers refine roofing asphalt for premium resilience, making it stronger than the types found on the road. Sealant bonds the various layers together. Crushed stone is deposited on top of the shingle (in granule form), which provide enhanced surface toughness. These granules can be augmented for better sunlight reflection and other benefits.
Finally, fiberglass lies towards the bottom of each shingle. This is the hard backbone of shingles, and the last line of defense in the event of a storm. If the fiberglass mat is ever cracked, the shingle involved will need to be replaced before a leak forms.
Asphalt Roof Shingles Pros and Cons
- Pro: very affordable
- Pro: widely accessible
- Pro: many color and texture varieties
- Pro: easy to replace
- Con: vulnerable to hail and heavy wind
- Con: relatively short lifespan
- Con: absorbs heat with darker colors
How long do asphalt roof shingles last? Typical shingles last 15 to 20 years. That being said, there are circumstances (such as hail damage) that may warrant earlier replacement for your shingles. Thankfully, these shingles have been around so long that it’s easy to find a local roofing service to replace them for you.
How do I know if my roof needs to be replaced? Age and wear are the two primary factors to weigh as you consider replacement. If your shingles have already reached 15 years of age, repairs will become increasingly impractical financially. While isolated pockets of damage can be easily fixed, widespread damage will typically warrant replacement.
Other Types of Shingles
“What is the best type of roof shingles?” you may ask. That depends on your personal roofing priorities. While asphalt roofing shingles may be the most affordable, there are several types of shingles available on the market that offer enticing benefits for homeowners. These include:
- Architectural Shingles
- Impact Resistant Shingles
- Metal Roofing Shingles
If you’ve been on the market for an cost-effective upgrade to asphalt, you should definitely consider these three solutions for your home!
Also known as “laminated shingles,” architectural roof shingles offer a premium alternative to traditional asphalt. They come in a wide variety of colors, and can work on even steeper gradients that base level shingles. Laminated shingles are also installed in a special layered design, making them less likely to slip off the rooftop.
What is the difference between architectural shingles and asphalt shingles? This roofing features thicker material that is made to withstand extreme wind speeds (up to 120mph). Architectural shingles also produce a three dimensional aesthetic that makes your roof pop. The average lifetime of this roofing material runs between 24 and 30 years, though some top grades have been known to last 40.
Impact Resistant Shingles
Have you ever experienced a roof leak? Maybe water spilled into the ceiling. Perhaps it even poured into the walls and made you call your local plumbing services! No matter what the exact circumstances, you probably remember the frustration you felt. For many homeowners, leaks are unavoidable. All it takes is one hail-filled afternoon.
But what if you never had to worry about rooftop hail damage ever again? That could be a reality with impact resistant shingles! These roofing materials are rated for intense wind speeds and hail trauma. Except for the largest stones, impact resistant shingles can withstand the force of hail falling at 90 miles per hour, without cracking! They may cost more at installation, but many find the added protection worth the investment.
Metal Roofing Shingles
Many love metal roofing for its durability and energy efficiency. However, some homeowners also prefer the homey design of traditional shingles. With metal roofing shingles, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Steel shingles can also be coated with stone to resemble tile, quite convincingly. Of course, metal shingles won’t crack from hail or fall off after 15 years.
Which is more expensive: a metal roof or shingles? Metal roofing will generally be more expensive that asphalt shingles, and for good reason. For one, it takes specialized tools and skills to install a metal roof. Second, metal roofing lasts two to three times as long as asphalt roof shingles. If you prefer long-term investment and stronger weather protection, metal shingles could be your best choice.
Asphalt Roof Shingles vs Metal
- Cost: asphalt shingles are considerably cheaper than metal
- Installation: asphalt shingles are much easier to source and install
- Longevity: metal lasts two to three times longer
- Maintenance: metal requires far less upkeep
- Safety: metal offers remarkably stronger wind, hail, and rain resistance
- Energy efficiency: metal reflects a higher percentage of sunlight, reducing heat absorption