Kelowna Roofer Discusses Asphalt Roofing Shingles

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    Apr 13, 2013
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Photo by Joe Shlabotnik


Years ago, most homes were built with roofs of wood shake, slate, or clay. Over time, roofing manufacturers continuously developed other roofing options which are made from different types of materials. Because of this, the best roofing material for a house has since become a curious task for the homeowners researching their options.

Some home owners wonder if they should go for the old tried-and-tested materials, that often have charm that modern materials just can't compare with. Or should they go for the highest tech roofing materials? Unless there are special historical considerations, most families these days will opt for modern roofing products. The choice then typically becomes a toss up between asphalt shingles and a metal roofing system of some kind.

Let us define shingles first. Shingles are small, thin pieces of building material often with one end thicker than the other for laying in overlapping rows as a covering for the roof or sides of the building. Asphalt shingles, from the name itself, are made from asphalt but it comes in 2 forms: Organic and Fiberglass. Organic asphalt shingles are made from waste paper saturated with asphalt, then a top coating of adhesive asphalt is applied and ceramic granules is embedded. While the fiberglass asphalt shingles have a base layer of glass fiber reinforcing mat. The mat is made from wet, random-laid with urea-formaldehyde resin (a class of rigid, odorless, synthetic materials that are made from urea and formaldehyde that are used in electrical fittings, adhesives, laminates and finishes for textiles). The mat is then coated with asphalt which contains mineral filers.

Asphalt’s primary role in roofing shingles is to serve as a waterproof agent. Asphalt also holds the granules in place and adds to the overall strength of the roofing shingle. The best asphalt will stay flexible and will not dry out or become hard or brittle for the expected life of the roofing shingle.

There are three major categories of Asphalt Roofing Shingles available in the market: Strip, Dimensional, and Premium asphalt roofing shingles.

Strip asphalt roofing shingles are single-layered asphalt roofing shingles typically designed to look like slate. Strip roofing shingles are usually the lightest weight asphalt roofing shingles available in the market. Built on a tough fiber glass base, each shingle provides resistance to blow-off and tearing. Strip roofing shingles are used primarily by home builders manufacturing economy priced homes or purchased by homeowners as replacement roofing shingles for homes that already have strip shingles on the roof. Dimensional asphalt roofing shingles are manufactured as multi-layered products and provide a thicker and richer appearance on the roof (a multi-dimensional look). Dimensional roofing shingles typically are heavier weight than strip roofing shingles and usually have improved warranty protections, which can range from 30-years to Lifetime.

Premium asphalt roofing shingles are usually described as laminated shingles that have a differentiated appearance or functionality from traditional dimensional asphalt roofing shingles. These products may have designs that mimic “old-world” roofing shingles, like natural slate or natural shake roofing shingles. Premium asphalt roofing shingles might also have important functional improvements such as Impact Resistance or Solar Reflectivity that can possibly extend the life of the roofing system or provide lower energy costs.

But why choose Asphalt shingles over other roofing materials? Let’s tackle the reasons why asphalt shingles are so popular for sloped residential and commercial roofs alike.

Affordability: This is, by far, the best reason why homeowners favor asphalt roof shingles. Generally speaking, the average cost of asphalt shingle roofing is $.80 to $1.20 per square foot for the materials. According to Cost Owl, for a medium-pitched roof, the average cost will be somewhere between $100 and $200 per square (a square in “roofing lingo”, is equal to the size of a 10’x10’ area or 100 square feet), for the shingles alone. The cost of installation is also significantly lower than what you would you pay for specialty roofing materials. Fierce completion for asphalt roofing installation jobs among general contractors also contributes to fairly low labor prices, which means that if you shop around, you can get a really good deal.

User-friendly / Ease of Installation: Unlike most other roofing materials, which require specialized training and experience to properly install, asphalt shingles can be installed by any knowledgeable roofing contractor. It is even possible for a homeowner skilled in DIY projects to install an asphalt shingles roof on their own. Also, while asphalt shingles are not the lightest roofing material available, they are light enough to be installed on almost any roof without requiring additional structural support. Since no special tools, skills or major preparation work is required, a composition shingles roof can be installed in a matter of days.

Variety of Styles: Just because asphalt shingles are cheap, does not mean they are lacking in style. Asphalt shingles are available in many colours and styles as mentioned earlier. Whether you have a contemporary or traditional style home, you can choose an asphalt shingle that will be a perfect match. If you are willing to pay more, installing laminated shingles will provide a beautiful 3D look to your roof, imitating the look of natural wood or slate shingles. Asphalt shingles are manufactured in almost all colors imaginable. Numerous patterns are also available, allowing you to create an attractive custom look that will greatly enhance the appearance of your home. When installed properly, asphalt shingles are no longer easy to identify. Why? Some are made to convincingly mimic the look of slate, wood shakes or even tile. And shingle shapes can be similarly varied; consider the scalloped-edge tabs that complement Victorian architecture or the square, slate-like shingles perfectly suited for Colonial homes.

  Durability / Low Maintenance and Easy Repairs: The life span of asphalt shingles is approximately 20 years, though some warranties guarantee the life of the shingle for much longer periods. Still, warranties may not be an accurate reflection of actual useful life. A number of things affect the lifespan, but temperature and variations in temperature are probably the largest contributors to aging. In general, asphalt shingles tend to last longer in cooler climates. Replacing asphalt shingles is a relatively simple job from a technical standpoint. The shingle is usually laid on top of a protective layer of tar paper and then nailed or stapled into place. It is usually very easy to tell when asphalt shingles need replacing. A close inspection will reveal numerous cracks in older shingles. Further, if the shingles start to look swollen or bloated, it may be time to consider replacing them. Many people may be tempted to wait until further problems -- such as leaks -- develop, but this can cause substantial damage to the home and should be avoided.


Author's Profile

The author of this article has expertise in roofing shingles. The articles on asphalt shingles reveals the author’s knowledge on the same. The author has written many articles on roof selection, choosing shingles as well.

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