When you are choosing what type of shingles to use for your roof, you are deciding which material you want to stand between you and the elements. There are many options, grades, and different prices involved for each type of shingle. It is always best to do enough research that you are able to make the best and most efficient choice for your home.
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of shingles in order to make an informed decision for you and your family:
Asphalt shingles are some of the most popular, and certainly the most affordable, types of shingle available. Light, easy to install, and with a myriad of styles, colors, and sizes to choose from, it’s no wonder asphalt shingles have eaten up so much of the market. When you pick asphalt shingles, you can be sure to pick the asphalt shingle that best fits you and your home.
Some different colors and styles of asphalt shingles include:
- Weathered wood
Despite these benefits, asphalt shingles do have one large drawback: they are prone to crack in areas where temperatures fluctuate rapidly and dramatically. In milder climates, they can still sustain damage, but it is often easily fixable with flashing details or roofing nails.
It is also important to keep in mind that asphalt shingles can only be used on steep-slope roofs.
There are different types of asphalt shingles, including:
Fiberglass shingles are on the slightly more expensive end of the asphalt shingle spectrum.
Some of their best features are:
- Fire resistant
- An extended warranty
- More inexpensive than other roofing materials
- Resistance to UV rays
Fiberglass shingles are comprised of a fiberglass base mat made from overlapping layers of wet fiberglass bound together with a waterproof sealant. The same type of sealant is laid over the top, as well as a layer of asphalt.
Organic asphalt shingles are considered an inexpensive alternative to fiberglass asphalt shingles. They have typically been made from wood chips, recycled cardboard, rags, or paper. For this reason, they are often nicknamed “felt mat shingles”. They are also:
- Heavier than fiberglass shingles
- Short-lived than fiberglass shingles
One significant drawback of organic shingles is how prone they are to retaining moisture, which makes them exceedingly dangerous in climates with high humidity or freezing temperatures. Many homeowners with organic asphalt shingles have been forced to replace them with fiberglass types of shingles due to the extensive breakdown of the organic shingles.
Three-Tab Shingles vs. Architectural Shingles
Asphalt types of shingles can be further divided into three-tab and architectural types of shingles.
Three-tab shingles are the least expensive of the two. They have cutouts running along the bottom edge that give the appearance of three different shingles once the roof is installed.
Architectural shingles do not have these cutouts. Architectural shingles are thicker and also more expensive. They will have more curve to them due to the extra asphalt they contain.
If you’re willing to spend a little more money and are looking for something stylish, tile shingles could be the type of shingle for you.
Tile shingles are generally lighter in color, and thus tend to keep your house cooler than other types of shingles. They are popular on homes constructed in a Colonial or Mediterranean style, and they tend to be some of the most durable types of shingles on the market. The average lifespan of a tile shingle is roughly 80 years.
If the price tag on the shingles themselves is stiff, the price tag on the installation is more so. If you’ve had asphalt shingles in the past, or if asphalt shingles were installed on the home when it was built, it’s likely the structure of your roof will not support the weight of tile shingles. It is always a smart choice to have an experienced roofing contractor inspect your home before you make any decisions.
Tile shingles are prone to small leaks, cracks, or broken tiles, but these issues are easily remedied with plastic roofing cement, or by replacing individual tiles.
We provide more information on asbestos roof tiles here.
Fake Slate Shingles
If you love the look of slate tiling but love the prices of asphalt, a shingle made of a composite imitation slate may be for you. It’s roughly the same weight as asphalt, so there’s no need to beef up your roofing structure.
Fake slate is, however, more slippery than real slate, and if you live in a snowy or icy climate, installing snow guards (devices used to block snow from avalanching down from the roof and damaging anything below) may be ideal.
If the price is your deciding factor, wood shingles fall directly in between asphalt shingles and expensive tile shingles.
Some of the benefits of wood shingles are:
- They are more environmentally friendly than other shingles
- They are durable; there is a perception that wood shingle roofs don’t last, but that is partially due to bad installs. It requires an experienced roofer to properly install wood shingle roofs.
- Their lifespan runs between 30 and 50 years
- Increased energy efficiency
- Available in cedar and redwood
A rather large (and somewhat obvious) drawback to wood shingles is that being wood, they are more prone to catch fire than other types of shingles. You will also need to take steps to protect your wood shingles from termites.
Wood shingles are difficult to repair, and in the case of broken, warped, or cracked wood shingles, the best thing to do is replace them.
Metal roofing is a trend that increases in popularity every day. Typically, metal roofing panels come in a variety of metals: steel, aluminum, and copper are the most common. Metal roofing has many advantages: metal paneling is very lightweight, and of course, doesn’t burn. It also reflects sunlight, keeping your house cooler in the summer, but it can be very noisy during a rainstorm.
For more metal roof information, check out the following blogs:
What type of shingles should I buy?
There is no short or easy answer. The type of shingle that is best for you depends entirely on your needs, your budget, and your home. Whatever shingles type you choose, always be sure to have them installed by a reputable roofing company.
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