Asphalt shingles have been around for more than 100 years. But as you might imagine, asphalt shingles today are nothing like the originals. Now they come in two varieties: Fiberglass and organic.

arrow Types of Asphalt Shingles

Made of a woven fiberglass base mat and covered with a waterproof asphalt coating, each shingle is topped with ceramic granules which block harmful UV rays. Fiberglass is strong and durable, so less asphalt is needed to make these shingles tough and long-lasting. Lightweight and thin, Fiberglass shingles have a higher fire rating than organic varieties and usually boast a longer warranty. Developed in the 1980s, they have become the top roofing material choice for most homeowners and contractors.

Traditional organic mat-based shingles, on the other hand, are made from a recycled layer of felt paper which is asphalt-saturated for waterproofing. A final coat of adhesive asphalt holds embedded ceramic granules. These shingles are heavier, thicker and more costly than the fiberglass version. Considered more rugged and more flexible than fiberglass shingles, they are also more absorbent and more likely to warp over time. Because of the additional asphalt content they are also less environmentally friendly.

arrow About the Look of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles generally measure 12 by 36 inches; they are commonly available in two different types:

Three-tab shingles are distinguished by cutout tabs along their long lower edge, which makes each shingle looks like three separate pieces when installed. Three-tab shingles, around  for a long time, are still the most economical and most popular shingle today.

Architectural asphalt shingles contain no cutouts, but have lower portions laminated with an extra asphalt layer. This creates the recognizable contoured, dimensional look. Asphalt sealant bonds the layers and reinforces the shingles’ waterproof capability. Though durable, these shingles are not recommended for low-sloping roofs where wind-driven rain can cause significant damage over time.

arrow Style and Color

Asphalt shingles are no longer easy to identify when properly installed, because the new styles look very much like slate, wood shakes, or even tile. And shingle shapes these days are varied. You'll find shingles with scalloped-edge tabs that complement Victorian architecture, and square, slate-like shingles that look perfect on Colonial homes.

Color choices are more varied than ever, with a selection that includes shades of gray, beige, brown, and some blues and blue-green. Variegated looks are achieved by mixing light and dark tones. Weathered-looking shingles can make a new roof match a vintage house.

In addition to color and style, today’s manufacturers are also adopting energy-saving, cool-roof technology to help reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the roof. Ask us about these products.

arrow Are Asphalt Shingles Durable?

Manufacturer warranties currently guarantee asphalt shingles a 15- to 30-year useful life, depending on climate, weather and environmental factors. Roof pitch also affects shingle life. The steeper the slope, the more easily water and ice drain off quickly. When water and ice sit on a roof is when they become destructive.

Visit our Asphalt Roof Cost page for information on the cost of asphalt roofs.

We're always happy to answer your roofing questions. Drop us a line and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.


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