Asphalt Roofing Shingle: Everything You Need to Know

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Asphalt roofing shingles, the most commonly used residential roofing material, are a familiar sight. Yet, it’s surprising that many homeowners don’t know what an asphalt roof looks like, not to mention its functions and properties.

This article will leave you more enlightened by the time you are done reading it. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about an asphalt roof, including its pros and cons, and answer any questions you may have.

What Is an Asphalt Roofing Shingle?

It is no secret that asphalt shingles are a roofing material. They are made of fiberglass and asphalt and concealed with a granular surface. The granules aid to resist UV rays from the sun and reduce the heat on the roof. Additionally, they help prevent algae and mold growth.

The overlapping arrangement of the shingles forms a tight seal that keeps water from getting into the underlayment and leading to leaks. There are several components that make up an asphalt shingle. Each of these components is very important to its functionality, so much so that the absence of one will lead to severe problems.

The components that make up an asphalt shingle are:

  • Roof flashing
  • Underlayment 
  • Roof decking
  • Ice and water shield 
  • Drip edge 
  • Ridge capping 
  • Pipe boots
  • Roof vents 

Asphalt shingles are available in different styles, including designer, three-tab, and architectural shingles. These styles are also available in various colors, giving you many options to satisfy your dream roofing aesthetic. 

Types of Asphalt Shingles

Designer/Luxury/Premium Shingles

As the name implies, designer or luxury shingles are sophisticated architectural shingles that imitate the appearance of roofing materials like clay tiles, slate, or wood, which are more expensive. Combining asphalt with components like natural or synthetic fiber is what gives designer shingles their characteristic realistic and better-textured appearance. 

Luxury asphalt shingles have a denser cut and several layers, which makes them appear more dimensional. Because they are a luxurious kind of asphalt shingle with a sleek and more attractive appearance, they are more costly than the other kinds. In addition to their superior visual appeal, they are more energy-efficient, resistant to fire, and durable.  

This shingle is available in various colors, textures, and styles. Aside from “luxury” or “designer,” you will also hear people refer to this kind of asphalt roofing shingle as specialty or premium shingles. 

Three-Tab Shingles

Three-tab shingles are flat asphalt shingles with just one layer and three different tabs. They are also uniform in size and shape. Of the three types of asphalt shingles, this is the most basic and economical. Additionally, they are easy to install and lightweight. These qualities make them quite popular among homeowners on a tight budget.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingle is the most common asphalt shingle and is dimensional. This shingle type is also known as dimensional or laminated shingles. Although not as expensive as luxury asphalt, it is more costly than three-dimensional asphalt and more attractive than it. As a result of their dimensional and textured look, architectural shingles give buildings an appealing look. They are also more durable and can remain in good condition for as long as 50 years.

Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles

Pros

  • Durability: Asphalt roofing shingles are durable and can withstand several kinds of damage, including storm damage and damage from mold and algae growth. Using them on your property will protect it and keep its content safe for a long time.  
  • Lightweight: This type of shingle is lightweight. Its lightness helps reduce the amount of pressure on your building. You will appreciate this feature more if you live in a location that experiences heavy snow, which puts additional weight on the roof. 
  • UV reflection: Instead of absorbing ultraviolet rays from the sun, asphalt shingles reflect them. This property makes living in your home bearable in hot weather. It also helps maximize your building’s energy efficiency and minimize the cooling cost.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Asphalt shingles are relatively cheap; hence, opting for them will reduce the expense of your roofing project. In addition to saving money on roofing materials, you also get to save some money on installation. Installing asphalt shingles is not expensive because they are easy to work with. 
  • Sound protection: This shingle type has the ability to insulate sound, and many people tend to underestimate this feature. This material does not make unwanted sounds like metal shingles during hail or a heavy downpour. Using asphalt shingles for your building will help you limit the sound that passes through your roof. 
  • Recyclability: Although asphalt shingles have a history of ending up in landfills, the present is quite different, as you can now recycle them. Rather than discarding your old shingle when it sees the end of its lifespan, you can have your roofer re-purpose it. You can use old shingles to fix roads or generate power.
  • Versatility: You will find them in different shapes, colors, and styles. Hence, homeowners can adjust the appearance of their roofs to their taste. 

Cons

  • Short lifespan: Compared to other roofing materials like tile or metal, asphalt shingles have a short lifespan. This type of roof typically lasts for about 15-30 years, which means that they will need replacement earlier than other types. The exception, to an extent, is luxury shingles, which can remain functional for up to 50 years.
  • Limited compatibility: Asphalt shingles are compatible with roofs with steep slopes. They are not fit for roofs with low or flat slopes.
  • Low tolerance in extremely hot or cold areas: If you think asphalt shingles have a short lifespan, wait until you hear how much shorter they last in extreme weather. When asphalt shingles are exposed to high heat, they experience expansion from the heat. In very cold climates, they have the tendency to curl.
  • Quick to damage: Due to their low tolerance to extreme weather, asphalt shingles get easily damaged, resulting in cracks and leaks.  

How to Maintain Your Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are a low-maintenance roofing material and, as a result, do not require regular maintenance or cleaning. However, this doesn’t mean you should neglect them. There are a couple of things you can do to prolong their lifespan. Some of these things include:

  • Removing debris on the roof: Debris, including tree branches and leaves, can gather on your roof. This debris can close in moisture, allowing mold or algae growth. When this happens, the lifespan of your roof reduces. 
  • Inspecting your roof for damaged or missing shingles: Over time, asphalt shingles can become missing or loose, allowing water to enter the underlayment. To prevent this, you should check your roof for damaged or missing shingles so that you can replace them as soon as possible before more damage is done.
  • Trimming overhanging branches from trees: When you observe tree branches hanging over your roof, make sure you trim them. Failure to do so will expose your roof to damage that may lead to punctures and leaks, which will even lead to more damage to the roof and property. 
  • Clearing your gutters and downspouts: You want to avoid clogging your gutters and downspouts because they can cause leaks in your roof shingles. One way to do this is by cleaning your gutters and downspouts.
  • Hiring a professional to inspect your roof: It’s better to be safe than sorry. So, we advise that you get an experienced roofing contractor to inspect your roof regularly. Doing this will help you detect and fix problems quickly, extending your roof’s lifespan and saving you money. 

Asphalt Shingle Warranties 

Asphalt shingle roofing has a workmanship warranty from the roofing contractor after installation, and the shingle manufacturer offers a material warranty. Although both roof warranties cover leaks in the shingles, they don’t provide protection for the same things.

A workmanship roof warranty shields your roof from harm due to poor installation. The validity of this warranty ranges from 2 to 25 years, and even a lifetime in some cases. However, every roofer needs to offer one. When choosing, look out for offers that provide protection for a minimum period of 10 years. 

On the other hand, a material warranty covers flaws or errors in the manufacturing of your shingles and other defects in the components. Although all shingles have a typical warranty, some manufacturers provide an upgraded warranty to cover the whole roofing system. 

Conclusion

The benefits of installing an asphalt shingle on your roof are quite numerous. Although you now know these benefits and even more about asphalt shingles, you probably still have a challenge: “Which of these asphalt shingles is best?” However, you can contact a reliable roofing contractor to help you determine the type of asphalt roofing to use for your project. 

Frequently Asked Questions  

How long does an asphalt shingle roof last?

Typically, luxury shingles last for about 30 to 50 years, architectural shingles last for about 22 to 25, and 3-tab shingles last for about 15 to 20 years. However, several factors determine the lifespan of asphalt roofing shingles. Some may not live up to the stated lifespan. 

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