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Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Is it any wonder why almost 80% of homes in North America use asphalt shingles as the roofing material of choice. The prevalence of asphalt shingles has created a vast assortment of fittings and fixtures designed to work with them.

asphalt roof shingles

Figure 1 - Asphalt roof shingles

Items such as a multitude of flashing configurations, edge products, and almost every skylight manufactured has an appropriate base configuration for a weatherproof connection with asphalt shingles. All of the material that you need for a proper installation, such as the shingles, tarpaper, roofing felt, nails, vent boots and chimney flashing are available at any home improvement retailer.

The attributes of asphalt shingles are;

  • reasonably priced (economical),
  • require very little maintenance,
  • versatile,
  • provide excellent protection on steep sloped roofs,
  • are weather and sunlight resistant
  • easy to cut
  • can be nailed by hand or with powered nailers.

There are two different types of asphalt shingle base material construction - composition and fiberglass. Composition shingles use a base material termed organic felt, which is a blend of paper and wood fibers. Fiberglass, on the other hand, uses a base that is comprised of a fiberglass mat. In both cases, once the base material is produced it is soaked in an asphalt compound. In numbers sold, fiberglass leads the market. They are less expensive, weigh less because they are thinner, have a longer wear life and have a better fire rating than the composition base shingles.

Average cost of a shingle roof is $50 to $150 per square, installed. Removal of old shingles will cost between $30 and $50 per square.

Both types of asphalt shingles are manufactured with embedded mineral granules. Seeing the granules in your eaves trough (after the initial installation) is a sure sign that you need to repair or replace the shingles.

Where just a few years ago asphalt shingles were only available in simple tab configurations in blacks, grays and browns, the manufacturers have expanded their product lines to include a vast array of colors, profiles and with the use of laminate coatings have created as assortment of eye pleasing textures. Special chemicals are also being blended into the shingles to make them mold and algae resistant. Although these additional features do increase the price per square, asphalt shingles are still the most economical roofing material available.

Drawbacks to asphalt shingles:

The serviceable life of asphalt shingles is the lowest of all the roofing materials. Although they are available in numerous grades designated by the expected life, from 15 to 50 years they often need repair or replacement long before their supposed life has expired. The hotter the climate the less the life of an asphalt shingle. Many of the asphalt shingle problems, that are encountered by homeowners, are a direct result of two factors:

  • poor initial installation
  • damage due to sever weather

Poor installation usually occurs in the area of deck preparation, and not providing adequate flashing around items that are protruding through the roof such as vent pipes and chimneys. Other poor installation methods are not using the required amount of nails per shingle and nailing in the wrong area of the shingle. There are many fly-by-night roofing companies that will quote low prices, because they won't be around to stand behind the workmanship. Choose a roofing contractor carefully.