Asphalt shingles still dominate the US roofing industry, accounting for more than 70% of all residential, sloped roofs including new construction and replacements. That’s probably why you’re here – asphalt shingles are on the short list of materials you’re considering for your home, garage, or business.
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However, not all asphalt shingle roofing products are created equal. This guide will help you:
Understand the main types of asphalt shingles
Compare top products and brands from most popular manufacturers
Ultimately choose the best asphalt shingle type and style for your home
What are Asphalt Shingles?
There are many reasons for the popularity of asphalt shingles, and we’ll cover them in the pros and cons section, but the main reasons are low cost and ease of installation – the combination of low cost and fairly decent durability and longevity aka the value for the money.
Note: If you come across a discussion of organic shingles in your research, the information is likely quite old or encyclopedic. Organic shingles didn’t perform up to the expectations of quality and performance, so most manufacturers stopped making them in 2008.
Fiberglass mat: The core of today’s durable asphalt shingles is fiberglass mat. This material is chosen because it is lightweight, resists tearing, and holds asphalt very well.
Asphalt: The fiberglass mat is run through a saturator tank where the glass fibers are thoroughly coated with hot asphalt, a petroleum-based material used for its strong resistance to moisture. The weight and toughness of the asphalt is useful for wind and hail impact resistance.
Mineral granules: The part of the asphalt shingle that will be exposed to the elements is coated with mineral granules that are available in a wide range of colors.
— Shingles can be given a single color to produce a solid-color shingle or a blend of colored granules for a more nuanced look.
— The ceramic-coated granules also reflect the UV rays of the sun – the single worst threat to shingles.
Sealant strips: Continuous or intermittent lines of raw asphalt are applied to the top part of each shingle that will be covered by the next layer installed. The sealant strip bonds the shingles together once they heat up in sun and warmth.
Did you know? The sunnier a climate is, the shorter the lifespan of the average shingle will be. One of the ways to extend the lifespan of an asphalt roof in a sunny climate such as Florida, Arizona, Texas, is to opt for a solar-reflective, light colored shingles designed to reflect solar radiant heat and UV radiation.
This comprehensive guide to roofing materials is all the research you’ll need to evaluate the top choices for residential re-roofing and new construction projects in 2021.
What to Expect: In this guide, we’ll cover the following most common roofing options: asphalt shingles, cedar wood shingles and shakes, metal shingles and standing seam metal roofs, concrete, clay, and fiber-cement tiles, natural stone and faux slate/synthetic shingles, and the latest BiPV solar tile options.
For each material, we cover the following topics:
An overview including how the roofing is made
Pros and cons including maintenance, repair, durability, options, home styles they work with and more
Cost for materials and installation
Choosing your roofing material: The “bottom line” summaries of each type
How to save money on a new roof
Types and Styles of Roofing Materials
The material options presented below cover more than 95 percent of all residential roofs in the United States. So, unless you’ve got something unusual in mind like BiPV solar tiles – oh, wait, we’ve included those – or a vegetative green roof, the options you’re considering are likely discussed below
More than 75 percent of all single-family homes in the US are covered with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to the more energy-efficient and durable materials like metal.
Asphalt (composition) shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options, and do a good job protecting homes from the nature’s elements.
There are two main types of asphalt shingles:
Fiberglass shingles start with a fiberglass mesh mat that is covered in asphalt and topped with granules that provide color and reflect some of the sunlight. Shingles made with fiberglass are lightweight and resist tearing.
Old-school organic asphalt shingles (almost non-existent today) would normally have paper, an organic material, saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. The shingles are heavier and harder to work with than fiberglass, but they generally offer better stability in high winds. Although you can still see them on many roofs, organic shingles have been mostly phased out or discontinued over the course of last decade. Why? Manufactures have stopped making organic shingles due to their tendency to dry out, become less-waterproof and more prone to excess moisture absorption.
Pros and Cons
The advantages of asphalt shingles are:
Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection
Look good on most any style home
Shingles are often the most affordable roof covering option, especially in good/better ranges
The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates
The cheapest 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to dress up a home before putting on the market
Broad selection of colors and styles including affordable three-tab and architectural shingles that mimic shakes and slate
For many decades, composition shingle roofs have been the overwhelmingly popular choice for new roof installations and re-roofing applications.
However, thanks to the rapidly growing consumer awareness of all the benefits of modern residential metal roofing, many savvy homeowners are now considering steel sheet panels and stamped tiles as a viable alternative to asphalt shingle roofs. Hence, it is hardly a surprise that metal, which is by and large steel, has become the fastest growing segment in the residential roofing market.
Why Steel Roofs?
Many homeowners concerned with aesthetic appeal are often positively impressed with the wide variety of contemporary styles, profiles, and vibrant colors available in modern steel roofing. Other benefits that help make steel roofs stand out among other roofing products, include low overall life-cycle cost, durability and longevity, superior energy efficiency, and sustainability.
New Shingle Roof
$7,500 Average price
New Metal Roof
$14,500 Average price
New Flat Roof
$8,225 Average price
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For anyone who wants their roof to be an asset for years to come, rather than it being a constant source of problems, steel roofing can be a wise choice.
Steel is Exceptionally Strong and Durable
Steel is one of the strongest, most durable building materials, which is why it is so widely used in commercial and industrial construction. Your home can benefit from superior durability of steel in several different ways; The inherent material properties of steel make it highly resistant to cracking, warping, curling, or peeling — all of these are common problems associated with asphalt shingles.
Did you know? A steel roof will not be susceptible to rot, decay, discoloration, mold growth or termite infestation. The superior durability of steel will free you from the expensive and time consuming maintenance and repair issues that are often a necessary part of owning most other types of roofing systems.