When the time comes for replacing or repairing your existing roof, you have to make a lot of decisions:
- What kind of material should you use on your roof?
- Should you tear the old roofing material off?
- Who is a trustworthy local roofing contractor you can hire?
You deserve good answers to your questions. After all, the cost of replacing a residential roof is usually between $5,100 and $10,000. That’s too much money to waste on a bad investment!
While we can’t answer all your questions in one article, the team here at Perry Roofing is committed to offering valuable information so you can be confident in your roofing project.
Today, we’re taking a deep-dive into asphalt shingles, so you can decide if they are the right roofing material for you.
Let’s get to it!
What Are Asphalt Shingles?
If you live in America, you’ve undoubtedly seen asphalt shingles before. In fact, four out of five homes in the United States are covered by an asphalt shingle roof.
But what exactly are asphalt shingles?
How are asphalt shingles made?
Asphalt is a sticky, black, semi-solid form of petroleum – usually formed as a byproduct of crude oil refining.
Asphalt has been used as a building material for thousands of years. Ancient Babylonians used it as mortar between clay bricks and as a waterproofing liner in canals.
Today, asphalt is most commonly used in paving roads but is also used in construction for dams, lining the bottom of retention ponds, controlling soil erosion, and more. Automakers even use asphalt to prevent rust and road noise in the fenders and hoods of cars.
As you might guess, asphalt is also an essential ingredient in asphalt shingles.
Here’s how it works:
Asphalt shingles are made in two layers.
The first layer is the base or foundation. The foundation is either organic felt or fiberglass.
Shingles made using organic felt are called organic shingles. The foundation is made of cellulose fibers obtained from recycled waste paper or wood.
Shingles made on the fiberglass base are thinner and lighter and have a higher resistance to fire. The fiberglass membrane is made by chopping fine glass filaments and mixing them with water to create a pulp, which is formed into a sheet.
The second layer is the asphalt.
No matter which base you choose, it is topped with asphalt. Then, various colors of ceramic- coated granules are used as a topcoat in shingles to protect them from UV rays and add an attractive finish.
Coat the back surface of the shingles with sand, talc, or fine particles of mica to keep the shingles from sticking together, and you have asphalt shingles!
Types of Asphalt Shingles
“Asphalt shingle” is a broad term used to describe any shingle created using asphalt. However, before you start putting shingles on your roof, you need to know which kind of asphalt shingle you prefer.
There are two primary kinds of asphalt shingles:
- 3-tab shingles
- Architectural shingles
Let’s take a quick look at each of these types of shingles.
3-tab shingles have historically been the most commonly used asphalt shingle on roofing projects.
They are lightweight, inexpensive, and get the job done!
However, 3-tab shingles are designed as a single-ply (one layer) shingle with three tabs. That means that 3-tab shingles don’t add much visual interest or style to your roof.
Thankfully, they bring a clean and neat appearance to a home and are available in many different colors.
If budget is more important than aesthetics to you, then 3-tab shingles are an excellent option for your roofing material.
The lower parts of the shingle are laminated with an extra layer of asphalt – creating a 2-ply structure that results in a thicker, three-dimensional look to your roof.
Since each tab on architectural shingles is a slightly different shape and size, architectural shingles excel at replicating the look of a wood shake roof – known for it’s classy and unique look.
Architectural shingles also contain a higher caliber of asphalt than 3-tab shingles, as well as an increased number of granules on their surface. Beyond that, architectural shingles are infused with color distinctions that intensify the look of the shingles.
These shingles are beloved by homeowners for two reasons:
- They are attractive and unique
- They can add resale value to a home.
Although the price tag on architectural shingles is slightly higher than traditional 3-tab shingles, the investment is often worth it – especially if you are interested in a unique, classy look for your home!
Benefits Of Asphalt Shingles
If asphalt shingles are found on four out of every five homes in the United States, they must be a good roofing material.
Let’s look at some of the pros of asphalt shingles that make them a great roofing material.
Variety of Choices
A home is a perfect place to show off your unique style. Do you like dark, hardwood floors or light, creamy carpets? Would you prefer elegant, neutral paint colors, or does a bold color suit you better?
Unfortunately, expressing your style might not be possible if your options are limited.
That’s a problem with shingles because your roof can account for up to 40% of your home’s visual exterior. In other words, it deserves as much consideration as you’d devote to interior design.
Thankfully, asphalt shingles give you a myriad of color and style options.
If you’re looking for a light shingle color to complement your classic Cape Cod house – it’s out there!
Or maybe you want a dark shingle color to add the finishing touch to your brick home. That’s available too!
You can even design asphalt shingle roofs to mimic the look of tile, wood shakes, or slate.
Asphalt Shingles Are Affordable
Whether we like it or not, humans are bound by the restraints of money.
We’d love to snap our fingers and have a luxury sports car or a new roof on the house – but we all know that’s not the way it works.
We can only make purchases and improvements to our home when we have enough money.
That’s one of the reasons so many people choose asphalt shingles as their roofing material.
Shingles stand out from all other roofing materials like tile, slate, wood shakes, and even metal when it comes to cost.
Here is a quick comparison of the average cost of asphalt shingles with other roofing materials (including installation):
- Asphalt shingles: $3.50 per square foot
- Corrugated metal: $4 – $6 per square foot
- Standing seam metal: $7 – $13 per square foot
- Wood shakes: $7.50 – $12.50 per square foot
- Clay roof tiles: $10 – $18 per square foot
- Slate: $12.50 – $25 per square foot
While the price differences may not seem significant in just one square foot, they add up over an entire roof.
The average residential roof size in the U.S. is about 1,7000 square feet. With a roof that size, you’d pay roughly $10,000 more for a standing seam metal roof than an asphalt shingle roof!
Ease of Installation
One of the reasons asphalt shingles are less expensive than other roofing materials is that they are easier to install.
An experienced roofer can shingle an average-sized home in only a few days!
This is attractive to many homeowners because the mess of a job site lasts only a few days rather than several weeks.
Beyond that, adventurous homeowners can do a little shingling independently with just a little research and a few basic tools.
Let us be clear:
Asphalt shingles require just as much, if not more maintenance than some other roofing materials. You’ll have to be aware of any curling, cracking, and granule loss on your asphalt shingles.
However, when it comes to repairing asphalt shingles, the job is often pretty easy.
If you catch the problem early enough, a few shingles can be removed and replaced – avoiding the problem of replacing your whole roof when a good portion of it is still usable.
CAUTION: Color matching can be difficult when replacing a few shingles – especially if the existing shingles have faded from sun exposure.
Sound Dampening Capabilities
Asphalt shingles do a great job of filtering out the noises outside your house — traffic, airplanes, and barking dogs included.
They go a long way in keeping your home quiet and peaceful. After all, if you have kids or pets, you don’t need one more thing making your house noisy!
Disadvantages Of Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingles are a great roofing material – but they don’t outshine the competition in every category!
Here are a few of the cons of asphalt shingles that every homeowner should be aware of:
Not Environmentally Friendly
For those who care about their impact on the environment, asphalt shingles are not the best option.
What makes asphalt shingles less environmentally friendly than other materials?
First, asphalt shingles usually don’t last as long as other roofing materials. For example, slate can last anywhere from 75-200 years, and standing seam metal roofs (not to be confused with exposed fastener corrugated metal panels) last from 40-75 years.
Alternatively, the lifespan of asphalt shingles is between 15-25 years.
That means that more natural resources are consumed in making asphalt shingles – simply because more of them need to be made to keep up with demand.
Second, asphalt shingles can not be recycled.
Asphalt shingles end up in our landfills, adding to the enormous amounts of trash we produce.
Finally, asphalt shingles are a petroleum-based product.
During manufacturing, their production wastes energy and exacerbates greenhouse gas emissions.
As we already mentioned, asphalt shingles are not as durable as many other roofing materials.
Generally, the biggest maintenance issue with asphalt shingles is when the shingles begin to show various signs of wear. This can include cracking, curling, or warping – usually from sun exposure or extreme weather.
If you live in a high-wind area, then you also want to be aware that asphalt shingles may be quicker to blow off the roof during periods of extreme wind.
Less Fire Resistance
Thankfully, many roofing material companies offer shingles with Class A Fire Protection (highest fire protection rating possible).
However, there are also asphalt shingles susceptible to fire – a downgrade over metal, slate, and tile roofs.
Not the Most Energy-Efficient Option
Although replacing an older asphalt shingle roof with a new one could help you make your home more energy-efficient, asphalt shingles are not the most energy-efficient option.
For example, attic temperatures in a home with poorly ventilated asphalt shingle roofs can reach 150 degrees, while steel usually keeps temperatures to 90 degrees or less. Proper ventilation in your shingle roof system can address this.
Understanding Asphalt Shingle Warranties
One way to protect your investment when installing new shingles is to make sure you have a good asphalt shingle warranty.
But understanding shingle warranties is no small task!
Let’s take a look and see if we can make sense of shingle warranties.
Manufacturer Warranties vs. Workmanship Warranties
As you’re doing your research, you will likely come across two types of warranties—shingle warranties provided by the manufacturer and workmanship warranties offered by the roofing company.
Manufacturer Warranties: Your manufacturer’s shingle warranty is intended to provide coverage against product or manufacturing defects for a certain length of time – most often ranging between 15-50 years.
Workmanship Warranties (Roofer): The workmanship warranty from your roofing company is in place to cover any errors or faults in the workmanship for a pre-designated duration (up to 10 years).
Between the two, manufacturer warranties tend to generate the greatest amount of confusion among homeowners. Let’s take a deeper look into the manufacturer’s warranties to better understand them.
Manufacturer’s Shingle Warranties
There are two general categories of manufacturer warranties:
- Material warranty – this is the most common warranty received from a manufacturer. In essence, the manufacturer agrees to replace underperforming shingles for an allotted amount of time
- System Warranty – this is a more thorough warranty offered by manufacturer’s in which they cover labor and material to replace all components of a roof that does not perform up to standards. This warranty usually comes through your roofing contractor. To get the warranty your roofer has an established relationship with the manufacturer and a history of quality workmanship.
Since homeowners most often deal with manufacturer’s material warranties, let’s take a closer look at those.
One of the most important things for homeowners to understand about manufacturers’ shingle warranties is that they are meant to protect you against manufacturing defects and not regular wear and tear.
Although shingle warranties have terms that extend upwards of 50 years, the reality is that the typical lifespan of a shingled roof is usually between 15 and 25 years.
Unfortunately, homeowners sometimes see the term of their warranty and assume that’s how long their roof will last.
So, what counts as a manufacturing defect for asphalt shingles? Here are several examples:
- Excessive blistering, cracking and spotting
- Significant curling
- Pronounced bald spots
- Algae (if your shingles are meant to be algae-resistant)
Just remember that as your roof ages, problems like the ones above are more likely to be caused by normal wear.
In other words:
If the problems listed above don’t happen in the first several years of the shingles being installed, the manufacturer’s warranty probably won’t cover the issues.
It’s also critical to know what problems a manufacturer’s warranty does NOT cover. Here are some standard exclusions:
- Consequential damages to ceilings, walls, windows, furniture, and other components inside and outside your home caused by a leaky roof.
- Unauthorized repairs or the use of improper methods and materials during installation.
- Structural distortions to your home’s roof deck, walls, or foundation that impact your shingles.
- Damage caused by installing equipment like satellite dishes or associated with making alterations or additions to your home.
- Discoloration caused by algae (unless your warranty says otherwise), moss, mold, mildew, and fungus, as well as paints or stains.
- Inadequate attic ventilation, which might nullify your warranty entirely or prematurely limit its term.
As you can see, a manufacturer’s shingle warranty rarely covers the actual replacement of shingles on your roof.
If the shingles have met their expected lifespan, the manufacturer’s warranty does not cover worn-out shingles.
And if your shingles are installed improperly or damaged in anything other than the manufacturing process, the manufacturer’s warranty is considered void (though your contractor’s workmanship warranty should cover improperly installed shingles).
Basically, a manufacturer’s warranty only covers shingles that don’t perform as expected within several years of installation.
Still, it’s crucial to purchase asphalt shingles that have a good warranty. Shingle warranties are not created equally, and some are much more helpful than others.
As a homeowner, the most important thing you can do is inspect your shingles regularly so you can report problems quickly.
Choosing A Good Roofing Contractor
In more than 60% of cases, people’s problems with their roofs are not caused by faulty shingles but by poor installation.
That’s why high-quality workmanship matters.
Here are a few things to do before making a decision on hiring a roofing contractor:
1 – Request a List of References
You can always head to Google and read reviews on contractors or ask a friend that had the business work for them.
While those are both valuable resources in understanding a company’s quality, we suggest asking the contractor directly for references.
If the contractor does give you a list of references, check-in with them and see what they have to say. Here are a few questions you might ask them:
- What kind of project did you hire the contractor for?
- How long did the project take?
- Were you satisfied with the contractor’s communication?
- Did you feel you got what you paid for?
- Would you recommend the contractor to family or friends?
2 – Verify Licensing and Insurance
When you speak with a roofing contractor about your upcoming project, ask them if they are licensed.
You can also check with the state licensing board to verify that a contractor has a license.
An unlicensed contractor hasn’t agreed to abide by the state’s laws, which probably means they aren’t going to do the extra work required to meet local codes either. It is also illegal for them to charge to perform unlicensed work, so they are breaking the law by doing business with you.
You’ll also want to ask for proof of insurance.
Because if your property is damaged due to negligence by the contractor, you want to be sure their insurance will cover the costs of repairs.
3 – Evaluate Their Workmanship Warranties
Some roofers will provide coverage for three or five years, while others will extend that to as many as ten years.
Remember, a workmanship warranty is only as good as the company that provides it.
If you experience an issue three years down the road and the company is no longer in business, the workmanship warranty will no longer protect you.
At Perry Roofing, we are happy to give you a list of references and show you proof of our licensing and insurance.
We know that you care about investing in your future. No one wants to put on a new roof on their home or business, only to rip it off again in a few years. And no one wants to get “ripped off” either!
With this article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether asphalt shingles are the right roofing material for you and even how to choose a good roofing contractor.
If you are a homeowner or business owner looking for a trusted roofer in the Gainesville, FL area, then consider working with the experienced team at Perry Roofing!
In it all, we’ll take care of your roof so you can focus on what matters most to you.
Contact us today and get a free roofing estimate. We look forward to hearing from you!