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Choosing Roofing Materials: All About Asphalt Shingles

photo of architectural and 3-tab styles of roof shingles

The difference between architectural (left) and 3-tab (right) shingles.

While materials ranging from wood shakes to metal provide reliable coverage for a roof, the most popular roofing option continues to be asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles lend a myriad of different looks with unmatched durability. In addition to the 15 to 30-year warranties that often accompany an asphalt shingle installation, these shingles also boast the most cost-effective choice in roofing, all while giving the homeowner flexibility in design.

Asphalt Shingle Variety

The two types of shingles are fiberglass or organic. Fiberglass shingles are lightweight yet durable. Thanks to an extra asphalt coating and the addition of ceramic granules, they prevent absorption of sunlight, leading to an overall more energy efficient house. Organic shingles have a heavier coating of both asphalt and adhesive along with ceramic granules. These shingles are more flexible but also absorb more moisture, making them prone to warping even though they are burdened with a heavier price tag than fiberglass shingles.

Asphalt Shingle Type

Asphalt shingles come in architectural or three-tab styles. Architectural shingles tend to be more waterproof than three-tab due to the extra layer of asphalt applied. The weight of that layer also creates the shingle’s contour. Despite their ability to stand up to moisture, architectural shingles are not able to handle forceful rain and should not be used on lower sloped roofs.

While not as waterproof, three-tab shingles are the less expensive alternative and give a roof a unique look. Three-tab shingles unique design makes it look like one shingle is actually three. This gives a roof depth and ornate décor.

Color and Style

Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors. Their design can mirror the look of more expensive roofing alternatives like wood shakes, slate, or tile. While each manufacturer makes shingles to their own specifications, asphalt shingles are made to be energy efficient across the board.

Limits to Durability

Although asphalt shingles are one of the most durable roofing options on the market, there are limits to their durability. Asphalt shingle roofs in climates with rapidly fluctuating temperatures may experience severe damage to the shingles’ integrity. Areas heavily impacted by snow and freezing temperatures can yield cracks in the shingles, while tropical environments promote fungus and algae growth. Steeply pitched roofs are quickly destroyed by fast moving ice and snow.

When choosing roofing materials, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each material before making an informed decision. While it is widely known that asphalt shingle roofs have a smaller price tag, knowing the difference between the types of asphalt materials and how each reacts in a particular climate may keep the roof strong and intact well beyond its warranty years.

If you want to learn more, contact us and we will be happy to meet with you.

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