6 pieces of asphalt shingles

What Are Asphalt Roofing Shingles?

A shingle is the umbrella term referring to any roof covering made up of overlapping elements. Throughout history, roofing systems have been made from various materials that enable them to be weather resistant but also aesthetic to look at. Roofs in Europe are traditionally constructed using tile, slate, and thatch, while homes along the Mediterranean Sea utilize terracotta roof tiles.

In 1901 however, the introduction of asphalt shingles in the United States changed how houses are constructed. Early asphalt roofing shingles were made from cotton rags or hardened paper mixed with asphalt. Over time, homeowners and contractors recognized it as the best low-cost and highly durable roofing material, and by 1950, roughly all homes in the United States had asphalt roofs. According to ReportLinker.com, asphalt roofing shingles still dominate the roofing industry in 2020.

Asphalt roofing shingles are made of an asphalt layer on both sides, with a top surface covered with mineral granules.

Why are they used?

Asphalt roofing shingles became the popular choice among homeowners for several reasons.

  • Affordability

Asphalt roofing shingles are relatively cheap compared to other roofing materials, such as wood and tile. Though priced lower, this type still delivers durability and a longer lifespan. Homeowners also enjoy lesser installation, repair, and maintenance costs. With the proper training and adherence to instructions, asphalt roofing shingles are easy to install. Installation can be completed within a couple of days, depending on the job size.

  • Aesthetically versatile

There is a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns available to asphalt shingles. Certain types of asphalt roofing shingles are made of laminated layers, enabling them to imitate the textures and patterns of expensive materials such as wood and slate. These roofing shingles can match any architectural design; therefore, homeowners can choose any color or pattern to complement the house.

  • Durability

Asphalt roofing shingles are known for their durability. They provide a more durable layer of protection against the wind, Sun, and rain. It can protect homes for about 15 – 30 years if properly installed.

What are they made of?

Asphalt is the main component that makes a roof shingle waterproof. It is the black cementing agent used in road construction for centuries. While this material can be obtained from natural deposits, most asphalt today comes from oil refining industries. Asphalt is the heaviest component of crude oil as this is the material left after all other petroleum components are removed during the refining process.

Not all crudes can produce quality asphalt. The type and particle size distribution fillers are essential in creating good asphalt. Asphalt must be durable, pliable, and possess good weathering characteristics to be ideal for roof shingles.

  • Reinforcement Mat

The reinforcement mat serves as the backbone of the shingle. It gives the shingle its shape and prevents it from splitting or cracking after exposure to weather conditions.

  • Organic Felts

This material comprises virgin wood pulp and recycled corrugated or paper products. Roof shingles with organic reinforcements (or felts) are less susceptible to being torn off during wind blowoff. They also perform well under varying thermal cycling conditions. Organic materials such as wood chips and cotton rags have been used for decades as reinforcement mats. However, due to certain conditions, roofing shingles made from organic felts can result in curling due to dimensional changes brought about by inadequate saturation and moisture exposure.

  • Fiberglass Felts

Due to technological advancements, several manufacturers shifted from organic materials to fiberglass. Fiberglass felts made from cured binder resin. The tensile strength, tear resistance, and flexibility of the resulting material vary depending on the fiber type, surface treatments, binders, and reinforcing fibers used. Their fiberglass counterparts absorb less moisture than asphalt roofing shingles made from organic materials. They are also more structurally stable as the expansion and contraction of the material are considerably lesser than organic reinforcement mats. However, fiberglass-based shingles’ main disadvantage is their reduced cracking resistance.

  • Roofing Granules

The roofing granules are necessary components of an asphalt shingle. As they are made from coated rock particles, these mineral granules protect the asphalt from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Exposure to sunlight and other weather conditions, such as hailstorms, damages the asphalt, shortening the roof’s lifespan. Therefore, asphalt roof shingles are surfaced with granules.

The coating on the granules also improves the appearance of the roof shingles. Homeowners can choose from a variety of colors that suits the color scheme of any house or building.

  • Mineral Stabilizers

The filler type, particle size distribution, and loading levels of mineral stabilizers can impact shingle performance. These stabilizers reinforce the asphalt by stiffening the base and giving resistance during the manufacturing process and after installation. The mineral fillers also enable the asphalt to resist any potential shrinkage during the aging process and thermal cycling.

What are the different types of asphalt roofing shingles?

A basic roof scan can reveal whether your house needs a new roof. Homeowners can get overwhelmed with the numerous options and styles of asphalt shingle roofing. While professional contractors and accredited shingle manufacturers can guide you throughout the roofing process, it is important to understand the form and functionality of the different types of asphalt shingle roofing to make a knowledgeable decision.

The three (3) major categories of asphalt roofing shingles are Strip Shingles, Dimensional Shingles, and Luxury Shingles. Understanding the product qualities and differences between each type of roofing shingle can enable any homeowner to pick the right product for your home.

  • Strip Shingles

Otherwise known as 3-tab shingles, strip shingles are considered the original asphalt shingles. They are characterized by their flat appearance and considerably weigh less than other types. Before the 1980s, this is the predominant roofing shingle available in the market. Today, they are primarily used by home builders in constructing inexpensive houses or by homeowners as replacements for previous strip shingles.

  • Dimensional Shingles

This roofing shingle is manufactured by fusing two or more layers of asphalt. This technique results in more affluent and thicker shingles that replicate a natural wooden appearance, making them more aesthetically pleasing than regular ones. The double bonded layer of dimensional shingles offers more protection from wind and hail, enabling it to withstand 120 meters per hour. Compared to traditional shingles, a dimensional shingle has a longer lifespan and can last for an average of 40 years.

  • Luxury Shingles

Luxury shingles are the highest-quality asphalt roofing shingles available in the market. They are made from a combination of asphalt and other materials, making them sturdier and heavier than their counterparts. This type of roofing shingles offers superior protection against snowstorms, intense winds, and hail. As they are more durable, luxury asphalt roofing shingles retain their shape and color compared to classic shingles. The multi-dimensional texture and triple-laminated design of luxury shingles imitate the appearance of cedar and slate. Thus, this type of asphalt roofing shingle comes in various colors and styles and can fit any style you want for your home.

The right decision: is this shingle the right choice?

Through the years, asphalt roofing shingles have remained the most popular shingle worldwide. This shingle’s affordability, aesthetics, and availability are the main reasons for its positive reputation. Whether asphalt roofing shingle is the right choice for your house depends on your preference and budget. However, one thing is for sure; asphalt roofing shingles can deliver and live up to their expectations.

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