Asphalt roof shingles is the most popular roofing in America with over 80 percent of homes in this country using them. Every year nearly 5 million homes use asphalt as their roof of choice. The reasons for their popularity are many but the primary reason is the affordable price. Asphalt roofing shingles are the most economical roofing material and they are available in wide variety of choices and at different price points to suit every householder’s budget. They are a versatile product suited for a variety of roofing needs from homes, gazebos, pergolas to garages and sheds.
The role of asphalt is to serve as a waterproofing agent. The reason why asphalt is water-proof is because of its long-chain hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons are impregnated in paper or fiberglass. It is used to saturate either an organic base or a base made of glass fibers. It is the main agent of support and strength for the roofing shingles. The best quality asphalt roofing shingles will not dry out in hot weather neither will it become hard and brittle for its entire guaranteed life-time. The shingles will remain flexible and keep the home protected from the elements.
There are mainly three types of asphalt roof shingles available in the market today.
Strip Asphalt Roofing Shingles
This type of shingles is single-layer and manufactured to resemble slate shingles. Strip shingles are least in weight and built on a strong fiber glass base. These asphalt roofing shingles are designed to withstand being blown-off by strong winds and also tearing. These are the most economically priced and used by builders constructing economy homes on large scale. Homeowners also use them as replacement for their old strip shingles.
Dimensional or Architectural Roofing Shingles
These asphalt roofing shingles are multi-layered shingles which are thicker and better in appearance than strip shingles. They have richer look because they have multi-dimensional appearance. The layers add this quality to the shingles. They are heavier and provide better protection to the home. They also last longer and hence come with longer guarantees of around 30-years or more.
Laminated or Premium Asphalt Roofing Shingles
The laminated shingles are the premium range of asphalt roofing shingles. They give a differentiated appearance to homes which is different from the multi-dimensional appearance of architectural roofing shingles. They mimic natural roofing materials like slate, wood shake and clay tiles. These are lighter than the natural materials but provide improved functionality. They are stronger and tougher. They last longer. They are better in appearance. They have better impact resistance and are more energy-efficient. They are suited for both modern homes and heritage buildings.
Fire Resistance, Impact Resistance, Wind Resistance
Asphalt roof shingles are ideal as roofing material because they come with fire rating, are resistant to wind and can withstand hail storm. They are water-proof too. The ratings differ for different shingles and the more expensive shingles come with better fire resistance, impact resistance and wind resistance.
Better Suited For Colder Weather
The present day asphalt shingles are designed to weather extreme heat and handle strong winds. They can take rain and snow in their stride. The asphalt shingles are better suited for cooler climates than hotter ones. Under very hot conditions the hydrocarbons in the asphalt break down. These get washed out in the rains. The loss of these heavy oils causes the shingles to shrink and their eventual failure. Also, extreme temperature variation over day and night causes thermal shock in the material which can damage it. Proper roof ventilation is a must for asphalt roofs to keep the air in circulation and protect the shingles from damage. This also extends the life of the shingles by several years.
Suited For Different Slopes
Asphalt roofing shingles being light-weight and easy to install can go on any type of pitched roofing. They are products available that can go low, medium or steep pitched roofs. As they are not heavy there is no need to make any modifications or adding of any extra structural elements to existing roofing. The asphalt shingles can be laid on existing layer of shingles.
Choice of Brands
GAF’s Timberline, Certain Teed, Owens Corning, TAMKO, Rona are just few of the big names in asphalt roof shingles. The big names also offer the services of professional and trained roofing contractors. The shingles of each company has been designed to be installed in a particular way. The shingles offer best performance when the maker’s instructions are followed every step of the way. Not installing it correctly can void the warranty and life-time guarantee offered by the manufacturers. The company trained and certified installers on the other hand have the requisite knowledge and expertise to do proper roof installation.
Asphalt roof shingles offer the widest choice is terms of colors, shades and textures. The multi-dimensional architectural roofing shingles, the laminated premium roofing shingles offer the next level of sophistication and choice to roofs. If you want slate shingles or tile roofs but can’t afford the high prices and installation charges, then higher quality asphalt shingles offer very similar alternatives at much lower prices.
These roofing shingles are the easiest to install. The light-weight asphalt roof shingles being the most sought after roofing, also has many trained professionals in every area to do the job unlike for slate shingles where finding skilled professionals is itself tough. Many homeowners in fact take up the task of laying asphalt roofs as a do-it-yourself project. It’s simple and lot of help is available both from the manufacturers like GAF and the dealers like Home Depot.