Asphalt Composition Roof Shingle Selection

Asphalt Composition Roof Shingle Selection

by Kelly Smith

There was a time when telling the roofing contractor which asphalt shingle to install boiled down to two things: shape and color. In order to get protections such as hail-resistance, a metal roof was the one option. But the roofing industry has matured.

Asphalt Shingle Categories

There are two things to consider here, and they are incorporated in ways to make them suitable for the consumer during new construction or a re-roofing project. Broadly speaking, these two factors are style and composition.

  • Organic Felt 3-Tab: This is the most inexpensive style, so it can be expected to be found on homes where the building contractor is low-balling costs. By themselves, they offer little resistance to hail or wind.
  • Fiberglass Mat: The fiberglass mat is a step up from the 3-tab in both price and longevity. The fiberglass, rather than the felt, offers more heat resistance. They also have a higher fire-resistance rating.
  • Architectural Grade Shingles: The style that is very popular just now is the architectural shingle. What sets it apart, other than a higher cost, is extra thickness gained by adding more layers of asphalt and matting. This gives it more of a three-dimensional look. Detractors will point out that the architectural style is not as suitable as thinner styles in hot climates because the thickness stores up more heat during the during the day and radiates it into the attic longer after the sun goes down. This can be made a negligible consideration by installing the recommended amount of attic insulation and a radiant barrier foil like Energy Q.

Consider the Weather the Roof will Face

Developments made by manufacturers focused on weather and environmental concerns are a big win for homeowners. Here are a few “add-on” options to consider:

  • Wind Resistance: The way shingles handle wind is fairly straightforward. There is an adhesive strip that runs horizontally on the backside. It is usually covered with a plastic strip until installation. After the roofing contractor nails or staples the shingles in place, the heat of the sun bonds each shingle to the one below it. Currently, the top rating is 130 miles/hour (209 kilometers/hour). This is a good choice in hurricane-plagued regions.
  • Fire Resistance: Live in California where the Santa Ana winds threaten homes with wildfires? Then this is something to pay attention to. Fire-resistance is designated as Class A, B, and C, with A being the highest. Class A products are in the fiberglass-mat asphalt shingle category.
  • Algae Resistance: Those inverted ice cream cone shaped stains on the roof are actually a form of algae. Look for “AR” or “Algae-Resistant” on the package. These shingles have the added component of either copper or zinc.
  • Impact Resistance: The ones in this category fall in Class 1 to 4. Class 4 is the most impact resistant and do a great job protecting against hail. How is this implemented? They have incorporated a rubbery polymer that allows them to flex rather than crack (especially in cooler weather). They also use a webbing on the back for more reinforcement.

So when choosing roofing material, consider the environment as well as the look. Not all roofing contractors will offer this information. And a rule of thumb is that the longer the warranty, the higher the quality.


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