Asphalt Shingles: A Deep Dive

July 23, 2021

They’re a common sight on roofs throughout the world: asphalt shingles.

What are the different types of asphalt shingles, how are they made, and why are they so popular?

Shingles start with a base of fiberglass, stable resins, and binders.

Asphalt, mixed with minerals, is added to both sides of the fiberglass. This makes shingles water-resistant.

Ceramic granules give shingles their color. Algae-resistant granules protect against discoloration. Granules can also have reflective qualities to increase energy efficiency.

Sealant or laminate is used to bond the shingles together on the roof, while release film prevents shingles from sticking together in the package.

Types of asphalt shingles

There are three types of asphalt shingles: three-tab, architectural, and luxury.

Three-tab shingles are the most basic and economical. They are the most lightweight of the three options, which makes them easiest to install, but also the most prone to be damaged by severe weather, especially if they are not installed properly. Even with that risk, they are designed to last 20-plus years.

Unlike the uniformity of three-tab shingles, architectural shingles come in slightly different shapes and sizes. They are made up of two layers of shingles bonded together, which provides a dimensional look.

While they are more expensive than three-tab shingles, they are extremely durable, and can last 30-plus years. Plus, they are substantially less expensive than the slate and cedar shake shingles that they can be designed to mimic.

If you have a low-slope roof, architectural shingles are not recommended, as they are more susceptible to wind uplift due to their higher profile.

Luxury shingles are the best and most expensive asphalt shingles on the market, but still more affordable and easier to install than slate and cedar shakes. They also come in more colors and styles. It's not uncommon to see luxury shingles on historic homes, as they have a vintage look, but they can be a good fit for traditional or modern homes, as well.

Keep in mind that luxury shingles are about twice as heavy as three-tab shingles, which is certainly a positive for their longevity and ability to stand the test of time.

Benefits of asphalt shingles

Arguably, the best benefit of asphalt shingles is their affordability. Even the most expensive asphalt shingles are more economical than the alternatives. Not only are they less expensive up front, but they are also less expensive to install, which makes them an even better value.

Asphalt shingles come in a huge variety of colors, such as green, blue, brown, grey, and even beige. No matter the color of your home, there is a color of asphalt shingle that will complement it perfectly. In addition to being colorful, they also integrate well with other roof features.

Asphalt shingles are more durable now than they were in the past. Impact-resistant shingles are the most durable, can potentially extend the life of your roof, and may even save you money if you qualify for a homeowner's insurance discount. They also hold up well against snow.

Asphalt shingles can reflect the sun and provide energy efficiency, which can reduce the cooling demand for a home by 10 to 15 percent. You can also save money if your shingles qualify for a tax credit, up to 10 percent of the cost of your roofing materials. For best results, shingles must be installed by professionals.

While other materials, such as wood, can allow algae growth, there are algae-resistant shingles. Some shingles even come with a warranty against algae. This is important because algae can cause discoloration and stains of your roof.

An underrated benefit of asphalt shingles is that they decrease sound. They are certainly quieter than alternatives such as metal roofs.

Downfalls of asphalt shingles

While there are many benefits with asphalt shingles, there are a few downfalls, as well.

Though asphalt shingles are more durable now than in the past, they are still susceptible to damage from high winds and hail. They should be inspected by a professional after severe weather. They also have the lowest lifespan among roofing materials in general.

The vibrant colors of shingles fade over time, especially in extreme heat conditions. Extreme temperature fluctuations also cause shingles to expand and contract, which can lead to cracking.

If you are concerned about your roof being environmentally friendly, asphalt shingles may not be the best choice, due to how they are manufactured and the fact that they are not easily recyclable, though they can be turned into pavement products in some cases.

Regardless of what type of roofing material you use, the National Roofing Contractors Association recommends that roof systems be inspected at least twice per year. Call Keyprime Roofing and Remodeling at 952-426-0132 for an inspection or to determine if asphalt shingles are the right choice for you.


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