For most 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 aka asphalt is perhaps the most plausible, simple, and cost-effective solution.
In a highly competitive residential roofing market saturated with numerous options, asphalt shingles are 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.
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 home.
Two Types of Asphalt Shingles:
Old School 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.
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 with an average lifespan of 12 to 17 years, all for a modest upfront cost.
Variety of Styles: 3-Tab, Architectural, and Premium Shingles
Just because asphalt shingles are cheap, does not mean they are lacking in style. Residential asphalt shingles are available in three profiles: 3-Tab (basic and least costly), Laminated (Architectural or Dimensional), and Premium. Whether you have a contemporary or traditional style home, you can choose an asphalt shingles option that will be a good match.
A 3-tab shingle is the most basic and least expensive, entry level roof shingles rated for up to 60mph – 70mph wind uplift. Most 3-tab shingles come with a limited warranty provided by the product manufacturer; 10 to 25 years limited warranty is the norm for 3-tab shingles.
You can easily recognize this style of shingles by its simple 3-tab pattern. You will normally need three bundles of shingles to cover 100 sq. ft. of roof surface. At roughly $25 to $30 per bundle, you are looking at the approximate cost of $75 to $90 per square of 3-tab shingles.
If you are willing to pay a bit more, installing architectural style also known as dimensional (laminated or composition) shingles will provide a beautiful 3-dimensional look to your roof, imitating the look of natural wood or slate shingles.
Most architectural shingles are rated for up to 110mph – 130mph wind uplift and will last longer than 3-tab shingle. Manufacturer ratings ranging from 20 to 50 years of limited warranty are the norm.
You will normally need three to four bundles (depending on the manufacturer and style of shingles) of architectural shingles to cover an area of 100 sq. ft. At roughly $35 to $45 per bundle, you are looking at the approximate cost of $140 to $180 per square of architectural or dimensional shingles.
Premium style shingles are the premium type known for their unique appearance and high cost. 😉 Most premium shingles are rated for a wind uplift of up to 110mph and come with a limited lifetime warranty.
You will normally need five bundles of premium shingles to cover an area of 100 sq. ft. At roughly $45 to $50 per bundle, you are looking at the approximate cost of $225 to $250 per square of premium shingles.
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Examples of GAF, CertainTeed, and Owens Corning Shingles Styles and Colors
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 could greatly enhance the appearance of your home.
Tip: For the daring DIY enthusiasts, you can buy Owens Corning Shingles at Lowe’s. Both, Lowe’s and Home Depot offer volume pricing discounts, when you buy a certain number of bundles of shingles. Some stores may also give you a 10% Veteran’s discount.
Relative Ease of Installation
Unlike most other roofing materials, many of which require specialized training and experience to properly install, asphalt shingles can be installed by any knowledgeable roofing contractor.
In some cases, it may even be possible for a homeowner skilled in DIY projects to install an asphalt shingles roof on their own.
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.
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 can get damaged if installed at below freezing temperatures.
– Attic ventilation issues can cause damage to asphalt shingles.
– Cheaper grades of asphalt shingles such as 3-tab shingles are susceptible to wind uplift.
– Asphalt shingles are not resistant to extreme temperature fluctuations, which causes expansion and contraction of the shingle and subsequent cracking.
– Shingles perform better in cooler climates rather than in 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.
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