Of all the roofing options available for your home, asphalt is by far the most popular. An estimated 80% of all American houses are built with asphalt roof shingles because of their performance, as well as their price. But too many homeowners don’t realize that not all asphalt shingles are created equal. Indeed, there are a handful of variations that will affect both the cost and the quality of your roof.
Asphalt Shingle Materials
Isn’t asphalt the type of roofing material? Yes, but the core of your asphalt shingles can be made from two different types of material. Tricky, huh? Here’s what you need to know:
Composition Shingles: This is essentially just another catch-all phrase for asphalt roofing. It uses asphalt and organic or fiberglass cores to create a “composite” shingle.
Organic Shingles: This type of shingle uses an organic core usually made from some mixture of wood and paper fibers that result in a felt-like material. This core used to be the standard, but it’s rarely used anymore due to lower life expectancy, although they can still be effective in colder, dryer climates.
Fiberglass Shingles: Fiberglass shingles use a fiberglass base that creates greater resistance to moisture, fire, and its lighter weight makes it easier to work with and install.
Asphalt Shingle Styles
Strip Shingles: The traditional asphalt strip shingle, commonly called “three-tab,” allows for a wide variety of patterns and light-and-shadow options. Each strip shingle is divided into three tabs to approximate the style of individual shingles with the easy installation of strips.
Laminated Shingles: Laminated shingles are also known as architectural shingles or three-dimensional shingles. These use varying thickness, spacing, and number to create dynamic, three-dimensional looks that are generally preferred by both architects and homeowners alike.
Interlocking Shingles: Interlocking shingles are, well, shingles that interlock. Less popular than strip and laminated, they are, nevertheless, a good option if you live in a particularly windy climate.
Individual Shingles: And you thought interlocking shingles were aptly named. The main advantage of individual shingles is the flexibility. You can find these in hexagonal patterns or rectangular configurations that allow for unique applications and style. The main disadvantage is the added cost of painstaking installation.
Problems with Asphalt Roof Shingles
While they are certainly popular and easily less expensive than other roof material, a common complaint about asphalt shingles has to do with their durability. Asphalt shingles come, as do most roofing materials, with a warranty. This warranty can be for as long as 50 years in some cases. The problem is that asphalt shingles have been known to become damaged before the warranty expires, and if the manufacturer determines your roofer didn’t install the roof according to “specifications,” you’ll be out of luck. In the end, asphalt roofing is still the most cost-effective roofing out there, but it does require greater diligence from the homeowner to find both a reputable manufacturer and a reputable roofing contractor to install it.