Asphalt Shingles Roofing Advantages and Disadvantages

roofing-shingles-installation For homeowners looking to do a re-roofing job on a budget, while maintaining a fairly attractive look and weather tightness of their home, a composition shingles roof (asphalt) may be a plausible and easy solution.

In a highly competitive residential roofing market saturated with numerous options, asphalt shingles is by far one of the most popular choices. While not as durable and long-lasting as some of the more premium roofing materials such as metal, cedar shakes, slate, or clay tiles, asphalt shingles can provide an adequate protection and sufficient aesthetic appeal at only a fraction of the cost of other systems.

Learning Objective:

In this guide you will learn about advantages and disadvantages of composition shingle roofs to help you decide if this popular roofing option is the best fit for your needs.

Two Types of Asphalt Shingles:

asphalt-shingles-roof Asphalt shingles come in two types: organic and fiberglass. Organic shingles are based on 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 flammable and hence more prone to fire. They are less environmentally-friendly due to their high asphalt (oil based) content. Fiberglass shingles offer excellent fire protection. Today, fiberglass shingles are more commonly used and are slowly, but surely, replacing the organic shingles.


complex asphalt shingles roof


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. In most cases, a properly installed asphalt shingles roof will provide your home with a decent level of protection for at least 12 to 15 years, for a very modest upfront cost.

Variety of Styles

Roofing Shingles Display

Just because asphalt shingles are cheap, does not mean they are lacking in style. Asphalt shingles are available in 3 profiles: 3-Tab (basic and least costly), Laminated (Architectural) and Premium. Whether you have a contemporary or traditional style home, you can choose an asphalt shingles option that will be a good match. If you are willing to pay more, installing architectural (laminated or composition) shingles will provide a beautiful 3-dimensional 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 material available, they are light-weight enough to be installed on almost any roof without requiring any additional structural support. Since no special tools, skills, or major preparation work is required during the installation, a typical 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 a specialty roofing system such as slate, tiles, or metal. Fierce competition for asphalt roofing installation jobs among 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. By and large, old asphalt shingles don’t get recycled, and hence regularly end up in our landfills, after a relatively short service life compared to other, more-sustainable roofing options for homes and commercial buildings.

3 thoughts on “Asphalt Shingles Roofing Advantages and Disadvantages

  1. Pingback: Roof Replacement Cost 2015 - Materials & labor Costs Guide

  2. adam forster

    Great article!

    Can composition shingles (asphalt) be supplied and fitted onto cold (vented), or warm (non-vented) roofs, as you said in the article that attic ventilation can damage the shingles?

    Many thanks,


    1. Alex Post author

      Hello Adam,

      Asphalt shingles will work fine on a roof with a properly ventilated attic space. The lack of adequate attic-space ventilation may cause problems such as shingles getting melted and stock to the over-heated (due to poorly-ventilated attic space) roof deck. A properly installed roof underlayment is vital, because it can actually help prevent asphalt shingles from becoming glued to the roof deck.




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