Asphalt Roof Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material used today, found on about 75% of homes.  They are widely installed throughout the United States, and have been for more than 100 years.  Their popularity is due to the strengths they offer:

They are affordable, attractive, easy to install on almost any roof, suitable for any style home, and they last a reasonably long time.

Asphalt Shingle Description

Asphalt shingles are also known as composition shingles because they are composed of several layers of material.  The base layer is either an organic felt material usually made from paper, or fiber glass.  The base is saturated with asphalt to make it waterproof and then ceramic granules are embedded in the asphalt for two reasons.  The granules protect the asphalt layer from the damaging effects of the sun on the roof.  Secondly, the granules can be tinted to produce a wide array of roofing colors.

Fiberglass asphalt shingles: The base layer is made of glass fiber mesh which reinforces the shingle.  Fiberglass shingles are lighter than organic asphalt shingles and some may tear more easily, especially when hot.  They cost less and are now much more commonly used by roofers than organic shingles.

Organic asphalt shingles: The base layer is a paper felt composition.  They are able to absorb 40% more asphalt than fiberglass shingles and so they are much heavier, giving them better resistance to wind.  They cost more and are more difficult to find, but a roofing contractor should be able to locate a supplier.

Styles of Asphalt Shingles

The most common styles of asphalt shingles are the traditional three-tab shingles and architectural shingles, a.k.a. dimensional shingles.  Architectural shingles are slightly layered and provide a more textured look to the roof.  They are slightly more expensive than three-tab roofing shingles but they also contain more asphalt.

Cost of Asphalt Shingles

Homeowners looking for relatively inexpensive roof costs appreciate the affordability of asphalt shingles.  They are typically bundled in “squares” which contain 100 square feet of roofing material.  The costs of the material vary substantially with the least expensive three-tab shingles costing $60-$75 per square and the most expensive dimensional shingles costing over $150 per square.

Asphalt Shingle Longevity

The lifespan of asphalt shingles varies from about 15 years to over 30 years.  They tend to last longer in northern, cooler climates because it is sun and heat that do the most damage to asphalt shingles, causing cupping and curling that makes them ineffective as well as unattractive.  The manufacturer warranties typically provide either 20-year or 30-year coverage.  For the warranty to be in effect, the roof must be installed by licensed roofers.  The warranty does not cover damage done by roofers, such as setting their air gun too high which may drive nail heads through the shingle.  The warranties don’t typically cover the labor to have the new roof installed, and they often pro-rate the warranty.  If you have a 20-year shingle and it lasts 15, they’ll cover 5 years worth of the cost, or 25%.

It should also be noted that in most cases, a second layer of asphalt shingles can be installed on top of the original layer, but after that, the roof will need to be entirely cleared of shingles for a new layer to be applied. This is often referred to as a “tear off.”  The “overlay” roof will likely have a shorter duration than the original.

Where are Asphalt Shingles Used?

As the most common type of roofing material, asphalt shingles are used throughout the United States.  They account for 75% of all roof material, but are used somewhat less frequently in the south and southwest where high heat and more sunny days reduce their longevity.


Asphalt Roof Shingles Articles and Guides

Replacing Shingles on Low Sloped Roofs vs. Steep Sloped Roofs, Which Costs More?

There are many types of roof structures and the cost to install one depends much on the steepness or slope. Roofers use the term “walkable” to describe... more

Eco-Friendly Roofing, Top 4 Green Roof Construction Products

If you are in the market for an environmentally-friendly roofing product, the good news is that you’ve got very good options in any price range. Here... more

Commercial vs. Residential Roofs, Who Ya Gonna Call?

Not all roofing contractors do the same type of work. There are commercial roofing contractors and those that do residential roofing. Even with those two... more

Metal Roofing vs. Asphalt Shingles, It Pays To Compare

While asphalt shingles remain the top choice in the roofing industry, many homeowners are considering metal roofing for its many outstanding qualities.... more

Life Span of Different Roof Materials

Are you looking for a long-lasting roof? Or do you plan to sell in 10-15 years and want good value for a shorter period of time? This brief overview of... more

How Much Does the Price of Oil Affect the Cost of a New Roof

We got to talking about gas and oil prices the other day. Someone asked if we thought oil prices affect the cost of a roof. Well we did some thinking and... more

Common Roofing Damages Caused by Hurricanes and High Winds

Hurricane, tropical storms and windstorms are devastating to roofs. High winds tear off shingles and other roofing material and leave the wood roof deck... more

The Best Roofing Material for Your Region

What’s the best type of roofing for your region? Where you live helps determine which types of roofing material are right for your home. There’s certainly... more

Which Roofing Material Fits Your Budget Best?

Over the past several weeks we at Roofing Guide have been looking at most of the top roofing materials and the cost of installing each of them. This article... more

Asphalt Shingle Price Guide for Estimating the Cost of Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Asphalt shingles continue to be the most widely used type of roofing on today’s homes.  They are easy to install, very durable, and come in dozens of... more

Quick Fixes for a Leaking Roof

We have all awoke in the middle of the night during a storm and wondered if the roof is holding on. Well in many cases the answer is no its not. If you... more

How to Repair a Roof In the Winter

Many homeowners are of the impression that if their roof is damaged in the winter, all they can do is to tarp the roof and wait for spring. But that isn’t... more

Does Ice Dams Cause Damage to the Roof or Shingles?

With winter on its way, many homeowners are concerned about the effects snow and ice can have on their home, especially their roof.  Can snow damage a... more

Does IT Cost More For a New Roof in the Winter

Does it cost more for a new roof in the winter?  Having your home re-roofed is expensive enough without additional costs due to winter weather.  However,... more

What is the Quietest Roofing Material Type?

No one wants to wear ear muffs to drown out the sound of a noisy roof!  A gentle rain is nice to hear, but when the roof has a cheap and hollow sound... more

Can An Attic Vent Fan Extend the Life of a Roof?

Many homeowners have heard discouraging news from roofing contractors telling them their roof is ruined years before it should need to be replaced.  The... more

7 Ways to Save Money on a New Roof?

Homeowners that know where to look can find ways to get a very good deal on roofing materials and installation from a Contractor.  In this roofing guide... more

How Much Does a New Roof Cost?

Having a new or replacement roof installed is a large expense for most homeowners.  This roofing guide looks at the major factors in the cost of a new... more