Asphalt Roofing Shingles 101

Asphalt Roofing Shingles 101

Learn about roofing shingles — architecturals, three-tab and premium roof shingles.

Asphalt Roofing Shingles 101

Replacing an old roof is a challenging, expensive project and finding the right roofing materials that fit your needs and budget is the key to success. While there are many premium expensive roofing materials out there, if you are looking for a combination of decent quality and low price, asphalt roofing shingles stand out as the best choice. Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in residential construction, offering such benefits as economical cost, wide variety of attractive styles, as well as ease of repair and installation.

What are asphalt roofing shingles?

Asphalt roofing shingles are made up of three basic components: the base  (felt, mat, or substrate), an asphalt coating, and a weather-resistant topcoat made from mineral granules. The base gives the shingle structure and strength. The asphalt coating provides weatherability and stability. The topcoat gives a shingle its color, as well as ultraviolet ray protection.

Types of asphalt roofing shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles are divided into different types: basic 3-tab roofing shingles, architectural shingles (also known as dimensional shingles) and premium laminated shingles.

The 3-tab shingles are a budget option. They have the same thickness throughout, are typically 1 ft. tall x by 3 ft. wide, giving your roof a clean flat look. Read more about types of roofing shingles .

Architectural shingles are a higher quality, more expensive option. These shingles are manufactured using at least two layers of fiberglass matting, which are individually coated in asphalt and then laminated together. The resulting extra thickness provides a more sophisticated three-dimensional look, as well as greater protection against wind-uplift and fire.

Laminated shingles are a premium option, that provides an enhanced aesthetic appeal and improved performance. They are often manufactured to replicate the old-world charm of natural shake or slate shingles. These shingles also offer increased impact resistance and solar reflectivity, all of which greatly extend the life of your roof.

Longevity of an asphalt shingles roof

How long your asphalt shingles roof will last depends on a variety of factors, such as roof structure, ventilation, underlayment, your geographic location and climate. On average an asphalt shingles roof will last 10- 25 years.  Asphalt shingles are known to last longer in the colder climates of northern states than in warm/hot conditions. One factor that is very damaging to shingles is thermal shock- dramatic temperature variations that occur in the short span of time, and cause the material to rapidly expand and contract. This fast rate of expansion and contraction results in cracks and splits, ultimately causing leaks. One way to ensure that your asphalt roofing shingles roof lasts a long time, is to take care of your attic ventilation.

See a CBC special report on how long Asphalt Roofing Shingles last:

Asphalt shingles installation and maintenance

One of the greatest benefits of asphalt roofing shingles is the ease of installation, which does not require any specialized tools or technical skills. In fact, if you are into DIY projects for your home, you can even install asphalt shingles yourself. Hiring a contractor to install asphalt shingles will also cost you less, than installing most other roofing materials.

Asphalt Roofing Shingles 101

It is important to do regular maintenance and repairs for your asphalt shingles roof to ensure that it is intact and leak free. Never wait until your roof starts to experience major leaks. Catching any issues early and replacing shingles right away will save you a lot of money and trouble of possibly having to replace the entire roof.

Cost of asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are a very economical roofing option. For basic 3-Tab asphalt shingles, you can expect to pay around  $1.50 3.50 per square foot installed ( an average-sized 1,500 sq. foot roof will cost $2,250 5,250).

Architectural asphalt roof shingles cost around 20 40 % more than 3-Tab shingles, or $2.50 5.00 per square foot installed. An average sized roof will cost you between $3,750 7,500.

Premium laminated shingles will cost as much as $6 -8 per square foot installed, which puts you at $9,000 12,000 for an average size roof.

Be aware that removing and disposing of your existing roof will cost extra. Expect to pay an additional $1 -4 per square foot to the total asphalt shingle roofing cost.

Green or not?

It is important to be aware of the fact that asphalt roofing shingles are not a green roofing material. Asphalt shingles are made of as much as 90% pure heavy oil. This means that asphalt shingles manufacturing contributes to pollution and carbon emissions caused by recovering and processing petroleum.  During their service life, the dark color of asphalt shingles reduces your homes energy efficiency, by attracting more UV radiation, which increase your cooling costs and HVAC load. At the end of their service life, asphalt shingles are typically not recycled and have to go into the landfills, further exacerbating pollution.

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