Roof Shingles – An Overview Of Popular Roofing Materials

Roof shingles are used to cover roofs and consist of individual members that overlap. Traditionally shingles were referred to wood shingles. Today a range of materials are used to make roofing shingles like asphalt, asbestos, composite and metals. They are usually rectangular in shape and laid in rows starting from the bottom most edge of the roof. As you go up the shingles are laid side by side with a overlap. When it comes to roof installation one basic and first lesson to learn is to employ overlap for everything. This prevents water and moisture from seeping into the home through the gaps in roof. So, when laying out shingles not only should there be overlap on the sides but also when you are placing the next row.

At the ridges, earlier metal caps made of copper or zinc was used. Today, modified shingles with plastic underlay is used. This gives an uniform look and feel to the roof. The metal cap jutting out at top could seriously mar the appearance of the home. But, today’s shingle laying techniques eliminate that need.

Roofing shingles are available in a variety of materials ranging from asphalt, wood, cement, slate to metals. Each type of shingles comes with various ratings for fire, impact and wind. Different standards apply to different regions and states. There might be local variations inside each state too. These standards have been set for maximum safety for homeowners and citizens. So, it is best practice to follow them for the good of your family and the community you live in.

Wood and paper-based asphalt shingles are prone to fire hazards. They are now not preferred because of dangers of an accidental fire destroying home and endangering lives. The manufacturers are coating wood with fire-resistant non-inflammable materials which makes it safer for them to be used.

The natural oils in cellulose structure of the wood keeps it protected. Over time with constant exposure to sun, the protective oils get softened and washed out when it rains. This causes a gradual corrosion in the wood shingles. You will find more erosion along the gutters and other natural valleys in the roof design where there is more water flow. Eventually as the oils are washed out the wood starts to rot, warp and curl. This exposes the nail heads causing them to rust. Water then seeps through the gaps left by the rusted nails and rotting shingles.

The protective nature of the asphalt is because of the long chain hydrocarbons. These also breakdown due to prolonged exposure to sun and rain. The loss of protective oils in asphalt results in its shrinking and other damages described above for wood shingles.

The most widely used roofing shingles are the fiber-glass based asphalt shingles. Asphalt is embedded between layers of fiberglass. This type of shingles is the most popular in the United States because of its affordable cost, wide range of choices available in every color, texture, design and shape. There are literally hundreds of brands to choose from. The most popular brands include companies such as GAF – Timberline, Tamko, IKO, CertainTeed and so on. Every brand has its pros and cons. It is best to choose a brand or model that suits the local conditions best.

The three-tab roofing shingle is by far the most popular roofing shingle. It is also the least expensive of all the different roofing options. Asphalt roofing shingles are made by sandwiching asphalt in between layers of fiberglass. Other materials like paper are also used but the fire hazard is higher in such materials. Asphalt shingles are available in a variety of designs and colors to match the exteriors of your home. By using these shingles in combination with a variety of quality accessories like drains, gutter pipes, air vents, ridge caps and so on you are will enhancing the looks of your home while also being able to add years to the roofing. Well installed and maintained roofing shingles last longer.

It is important to keep the trees away from your homes roof when you are using asphalt shingles. Trim the branches and remove dead limbs. The scraping of the branches against the roofing shingles will damage them leading to leaks and other major problems. Keep the roof area free of debris, loose leaves and mud by seasonal cleaning. For warmer areas light colored shingles that reflect light are preferable. If you want you can also select a darker shade with flecks of white in them which also do the job of reflecting the light. Darker shades with absorb heat help in rapid melting of ice and snow in winters.

Apart from the functionality aspect of protecting the home roof shingles perform an important task of making your homes look attractive. Beautiful shingles laid out professionally help cover any flaws and make your home look beautiful to onlookers. You don’t have to spend a fortune on designer roof shingles or architectural roofing shingles for this. Even asphalt has many options as there are several brands of them available in an enviable array of choices. Timberline from GAF is a much sought after brand for its quality and performance. A little more expensive but with more choices the architectural shingles are also much sought after. They are particulalry great for heritage buildings and older structures.

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