What Are Asphalt Shingles?

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What Are Asphalt Shingles?

What Are Asphalt Shingles?

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Asphalt Shingles are common to the roofing industry. This is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re always presented as one of the options for roofing.

Today, we’ll share with you everything about asphalt shingles.

What are you waiting for? Keep reading, and start learning.

What are Asphalt Shingles?

asphalt shingles
Drone shot of a roof replacement we did for my grandmother in Alabama.

Asphalt shingles have been popular ever since. And there’s a good reason for that. They’re highly affordable and easy to install!

You’d also be surprised to know that despite its price, asphalt shingles are durable! Shingles for roofing can last you a long time, so you’ll have nothing to worry about.

But, the durability of asphalt shingles also depends on its thickness and quality. Its composition plays an important role, and you’d want to watch out for the following:

1. Fiberglass Mat

Fiberglass mat is the main component that helps asphalt shingles be durable.

A lot of people enjoy this component because it’s surprisingly lightweight!

Despite being lightweight, you’d be glad to know that it’s highly resistant to any tearing. It can hold asphalts well, and you won’t have to worry about it breaking down anytime soon.

2. Asphalt

Asphalts are usually made of petroleum-based materials. It helps the material be highly resistant to any moisture.

Typically, the fiberglass mat is coated with hot asphalt. It adds weight and durability to the material, making it impact resistant, especially against strong winds.

3. Mineral Granules

Notice that asphalt shingles are typically coated. Why? Because it’s exposed to a lot of elements and materials.

To protect asphalt shingles from all types of elements, mineral granules coating are usually done.

Luckily, they come in different colors to match your asphalt shingle roof. Nevertheless, the asphalt shingle roof can either be single or multi-colored.

You can also opt to get ceramic-coated granules. They’re effective and have a lot of advantages. It reflects UV rays, which is the number one enemy of asphalt roofing.

If you live in an area with a hot climate, you’ll need to pay close attention to your asphalt shingles.

Their lifespan tends to be shorter than the average. Luckily, you can extend it by using shingles for roof systems that are designed to reflect solar radiant heat, as well as UV radiation.

4. Sealant Strips

Asphalt shingles are usually placed beside each other, depending on how you want it to look like.

Later, sealant strips are applied to bind the asphalt shingles.

Once the sealant strips are exposed to the warmth of the sun, they’ll start binding themselves.

Pros and Cons of Using Asphalt Shingles

asphalt shingle church

With the basics of asphalt shingles covered, let’s get to know them a little bit more. We’ll tell you its pros and cons.


1. Price

If price highly matters to you, you’d be happy to know that asphalt shingles pass the category.

They’re more affordable compared to other roofing types today!

2. Durability

On average, asphalt shingles can last between 15 to 30 years. Not bad!

Its durability typically depends on a combination of different factors like climate, ventilation, and maintenance.

So if you want to keep your asphalt shingles feeling new all the time, make sure to get a type that suits your needs.

3. Tons of Options

Asphalt shingles come in different styles and colors! You’ll never have a problem trying to look for shingles that match your home and roof style.

An asphalt shingle is also manufactured to meet different roof types and weather conditions! So wherever you are, regardless of your home’s roof type, there’s always something for you.

4. Maintenance

Asphalt shingles are very easy to clean, so you won’t have a problem!

As long as you observe proper care and maintenance, you won’t have to worry about damaging your roof shingles.


1. Durability

We love asphalt shingles because they’re practically durable on any roof.

But, if you compare this to other roof types like cedar shakes, clay, metal, or genuine slate, an asphalt shingle doesn’t compare well.

Cedar shakes can go up to 40 years, clay up to 55 years, metal roof up to 50+ years, and a genuine slate roof can last up to an impressive 100 years!

Now compare that to the asphalt shingle, which lasts a maximum of only 30 years. It doesn’t compare.

2. Installation

Installation is easy. But, in all cases, we recommend getting a professional roofer to do the job for you.

Asphalt shingle is highly susceptible to improper installation. When this happens, you’ll risk having leaks or water damage.

Proper Care and Maintenance for Asphalt Shingles

If your shingles still look good, there’s no sign of damage, leaks, and other concerns, you don’t have to replace your shingles just yet.

If you aren’t sure when it’s time to replace them, you can watch out for these warning signs:

  • Dull shingles or granules
  • Leaks and water damage
  • Crack or brittle shingles
  • Cupped or curled shingles

If you think asphalt shingles are for you, you’ll need to know how to care and maintain them. They’re easy!

1. General Cleaning

If you want to keep your shingle roof looking good, make sure to keep it clear (check out our article on how to clean a roof).

Debris, molds, water, and other elements are your enemies! They’ll stain your roof and decrease their longevity.

You eliminate this problem by scheduling a general cleaning.

2. Inspect your asphalt roof

Make sure to check your shingle at least twice a year, or after a big storm. You want to watch out for any missing shingles, cracked, cupped, among others.

If you see any damage, it’s time to call a professional roofer to fix your roof.

3. Ventilate your attic

If your attic isn’t adequately ventilated, it will attract heat and moisture on your roof and damage your shingles.

Make sure to keep your attic well ventilated so you can avoid this problem.

You also want to make sure you insulate your attic if you live in cold areas. Doing this helps prevent ice dams from forming.

Different Types of Asphalt Shingles

Today, shingles are available in different sizes. Shingles come in various makes, types, and more. But it wasn’t always this way before.

Older houses made use of three-tab shingles. They were very common back then! And well, three-tab shingles was the only choice.

Later on, as time passed, three-tab shingles weren’t the only choice anymore. A lot of manufacturers started developing various types of shingles!

Architectural shingles, dimensional shingles, laminated shingles, and more, started appearing. Different types of asphalt shingles started coming out!

Besides the different types of asphalt shingles, a lot of manufacturers also started exploring different designs for your home roof.

1. 3-tab Shingles

This type of shingle is the most basic and economical for your home!

One of the benefits of using 3-tab shingles is that they’re lightweight and flat. Thanks to its flat design, it’s harder for the wind to go under the shingles and lift it.

Another benefit of using 3 tab shingles is that they’re also highly affordable. If you’re looking for a balance between durability and affordability, 3 tab shingles are a great option.

Unfortunately, 3 tab shingles have some drawbacks.

We’ve mentioned that 3-tab shingles are lightweight. Due to this, if a strong wind gets under the 3 tab shingle, it can tear it off!

A 3 tab shingle is rated for places with a 60 to 80 mph wind uplift. So if you live in areas that are very windy or experience a lot of hurricanes, then this 3 tab asphalt roofing isn’t for you.

Another problem with using a three-tab shingle for your roof is that they have poor longevity.

When they’re exposed to water, oils, and other elements, three tabs tend to weaken and become brittle. But, you can remedy this by using thick and heavy shingles.

Lastly, 3-tab shingles don’t have any of the design qualities you might be looking for. It’s plain-looking but does the job well anyway.

Three-tab shingles don’t sound bad!

2. Architectural shingles or Dimensional Shingles 

Architectural shingles and dimensional shingles are used interchangeably. After all, they refer to the same type of shingles.

Dimensional shingles have a feature that might catch your attention. It has a thick layer base of asphalt-saturated fiberglass.

The fiberglass is also bonded with a tabbed layer, which gives the shingles roof a 3D effect. There’s more dimension in the design, and looks beautiful!

If the price is a significant consideration for your choice, then dimensional shingles might throw you off. They cost way more than 3-tab shingles!

But, once you look at its appearance, you’ll find that the price is worth it. This is especially true for people who live in an upscale home.

The lifespan of dimensional shingles is pretty impressive. More impressive than three-tab shingles! This is all thanks to its thickness and durability. This type of shingle also has an impressive impact resistance.

Dimensional shingles also have great wind uplift protection, so you won’t expect strong winds to tear it out of your roof anytime soon.

The shingles are rated to withstand wind up to 130 mph (with a correct roofing nail). This makes it suitable for a home that is prone to a lot of storms and high wind.

There’s only one disadvantage of using this type of shingle. Dimensional shingles for a roof with low-slopes isn’t a good idea.They’re more susceptible to wind uplift and could damage the roof of your home.

On low slope roofs we prefer TPO or if you are insistent on shingles you need to use ice and water shield on the whole slope rather than plain roofing felt.

3. Premium Shingles

Recently, there’s been a lot of luxury asphalt shingles in the market.

They tend to be thicker and heavier than the regular shingle. They weigh approximately 450 pounds per square! Now that’s heavy per square!

If you have more bucks to spare, premium asphalt shingles are a good choice. Its per square weight is pretty impressive!

But, if you don’t have the extra bucks, then its cost might put you off.

They’re expensive! But, its premium and luxurious good looks make up for the price.

Take note, heavier-weighted shingles also mean it will be heavier on your roof.

If you have plans of installing it on your home, remember that your roofing structure should also be strong enough to support the weight.

4. Special Purpose Asphalt Shingles

Standard asphalt shingles are good in themselves. But, various shingles are available today to meet consumer requirements.

Here are various asphalt shingles you might be interested in checking out for your roof. They’re all manufactured for different types of purposes.

Cool shingles

The shingles are lighter in color, and the granules are highly reflective. It helps reduce the temperature of your roof.

So, if you want to cut down on your electricity cost, you can opt to use this. It prevents heat from penetrating your home.

Impact-resistant shingles

These are the perfect type of shingles to withstand impact! They can even survive hailstorms that are up to 2 inches in diameter!

Stain-resistant shingles

People living in wet climates are exposed to a lot of elements. Algae, molds, and stains tend to be a common enemy.

Luckily, some shingles are manufactured and treated to eliminate the problem.

What is the difference between architectural shingles and asphalt shingles?

The main difference between architectural shingles and asphalt (3-tab) shingles are the former comes in various sizes and dimensions while the latter is one size and shape. Another major difference is the material quality and useful life of an architectural shingle is higher than a regular 3-tab shingle.

How long do asphalt shingles last?

asphalt roof that needs replacing
A homeowner asked us to come look at her roof and see if it needed to be replaced. LOL!

On average, about 15-25 years but this depends on a variety of external factors. If you want to read more, we have written a detailed article here.

What is the best asphalt shingle?

You have no idea how loaded this question is. Roofing manufacturers will give roofing companies financial incentives to push their products out the door so you honestly can not trust anyone.

In our opinion, Malarkey is one of the best but we do not install a lot of them because their marketing is not as good as GAF.

Final Words

The next time you’re looking for a roofing material for your home, consider using asphalt shingles! They’re affordable, economical, and get the job done for you.

There’s a ton of shingle types, designs, and more! The possibilities are endless. More importantly, you don’t have to scour all over to find the roofing material for you.

We hope you enjoyed this article, and you learned a lot! Leave a comment below and tell us how we were able to help you!

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