In the US, there are typically two types or categories of asphalt shingles with foundations in either organic or fiberglass materials (also called composition shingles).

Organic asphalt shingles are manufactured with a base layer of reclaimed/recycled paper and wood (aka cellulose fibers). This organic foundation is then combined with an asphalt finish and surfaced with weather resistant ceramic granules. Organic shingles typically contain more asphalt than fiberglass which makes them weigh more.

Fiberglass asphalt shingles are manufactured in a similar fashion but instead of an organic base layer, they utilized fiberglass. The fiberglass is set between the asphalt and ceramic granules. The ceramic granules protect the underlying fiberglass and asphalt layers from exposure to damaging UV radiation, resist algae, and can even save energy by reflecting the sun’s rays. They are the most common type of residential roofing shingle in use today.

Asphalt roofing shingles are relatively light, compared with other roofing options, and offer a trouble-free installation. They are typically found in three styles:

  • Architectural Shingles – Also called 3-dimensional shingles or laminated shingles, are layered which creates thickness and visual depth. This roofing variety is a favorite among contractors and homeowners alike. Laminate shingles have a wind rating of 90-110 MPH
  • Imitation Slate Shingles – Offers thickness, proportion, and a color selection that resembles natural slate. Natural slate can be brittle and easily damaged, imitation slate shingles are a durable, economical choice while offering a unique alternative to architectural and 3-tab.
  • Three-tab Asphalt Shingles – Also called Strip Shingles are made in a single layer. They’re flatter and thinner than architectural shingles and don’t offer the visual depth and appeal. They are the most inexpensive but are also rated the lowest and offer the lowest warranty. Wind rating of 60-90 MPH.

Asphalt Roofing Shingle Advantages

Asphalt shingles offer a number of advantages over other types of roofing. A few of the advantages include:

  • Performance – Asphalt shingles perform well in areas of severe weather and extreme temperatures (hot and cold).
  • Cost – Asphalt shingles are a very popular and efficient product made with relatively inexpensive materials. The value these shingles offer have made them the most popular roofing option on the market and difficult for other roofing materials to match.
  • Maintenance – Asphalt shingles, if installed correctly by a competent roofer will require little maintenance and can easily be repaired if damaged by wind or other weather conditions.
  • Installation – Asphalt shingle installation is often considered the easiest compared to other roofing material choices. In addition, the flexibility and strength they can also be added to a variety of roof designs. The roof pitch can start as low as 4/12 pitch, going all the way up to a 12/12 pitch.
  • Wind/Weather – Asphalt shingles carry a wind resistance factor that allows them to perform well in high-wind locations.

Asphalt Roofing Shingle Disadvantages

Asphalt shingles typically perform better in colder climates. The UV rays in warmer locations will often damage the ceramic granules in the asphalt and cause them to eventually crack. Drastic changes in temperature and moisture can have a detrimental effect on asphalt by creating cracks which will lead to leaks and algae. Proper water drainage and ventilation is also required or other parts of the roof will eventually decay. Asphalt is a petroleum based by-product that isn’t the most environment-friendly option. In addition, they are not a recyclable product and will emit methane gas as they decompose.

Asphalt Shingles Installation Cost

Roofing costs will vary depending on the material and roofing contractor. Variations will typically occur based on contractor skill, location, and the time of year. In most cases asphalt shingles will be at the low end of the shingle pricing scale. Quality 3-tab laminate shingles, backed by a 20 to 30 year warranty, will cost $25 to $35 per square. Architectural shingles will offer a 40 year warranty and cost around $55 – $60 per square. There are exactly a hundred square feet in one roofing square. For example, a 10 x 10 foot area will give you exactly one roofing square. Also, expect to pay a little more for high-end colors and styles. What usually increases the cost of your asphalt roof is weight. All things being equal, the thicker the tile, the more it will cost.

Asphalt Shingle Manufacturers

Building Products of Canada CorpManufactures and distributes home renovation products throughout Canada. They offer residential roofing products like architectural roofing, and 3-tab roofing; residential roll roofing; saturated felt rolls; and adhesives/cements/coatings. BP also provides commercial and industrial roofing products.

CertainTeed – CertainTeed Corp is an American manufacturer of building materials including: roofing, vinyl fence, railing, decking, foundations, insulation, ceilings, and pipe products. Headquartered in Valley Forge, PA, they have approximately 7,000 employees and 70 facilities throughout the US and Canada. CertainTeed is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, one of the top 100 industrial companies in the world.

GAF – GAF, established in 1886, has become North America’s largest manufacturer of commercial and residential roofing products. Roofers have preferred the GAF Timberline® Shingles and have made it the #1 selling shingle brand in the US. Rated highest in shingle quality by roofing contractors and home builders. Named most-recommended brand by upscale remodelers and winner of the 2011 Innovation Award for asphalt roof shingles.

IKO – IKO, established in 1951, is a family owned roofing material manufacturing company that offers quality residential and commercial roofing products. Our products are found on distinctive residential, commercial and engineering structures in more than 50 countries throughout the world. We operate over 20 manufacturing plants and plan on investing in additional laminated shingle production and actively pursuing new manufacturing facilities.

Owens Corning – Owens Corning, established in 1938, produces a variety of residential and commercial building materials, fiberglass, and engineered materials. We are committed to driving sustainability through delivering solutions, transforming markets and enhancing lives. Owens Corning is a market-leading innovator of glass-fiber technology with sales of $5 billion in 2010 and approximately 15,000 employees in 28 countries on five continents.

PABCO RoofingPABCO Roofing, established in 1984, manufactures premium asphalt shingles at their production facility in Tacoma, Washington. PABCO quickly earned a reputation for producing quality products. Our product offerings have expanded over the years to include traditional 3-tab, laminated, and dimensional shingles. Our products are specified by builders and designers for new construction and residential reroofing.

TAMKO Building Products, Inc. – Tamko, established in 1944, is a leading manufacturer of residential and commercial roofing products, waterproofing products, composite decking, railing systems, cements, and coatings.

Federal Energy Tax Credit for Asphalt Roofing

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (HR 4853) also allows for credits in energy efficiency for 2011. The new tax credit allocates at least10% of the cost of your roof, up to $500. This credit typically only applies toward lighter roofing materials, like grey and white, that reflects the sun’s rays and ultimately saves energy by keeping your home cool. So if you had a roof done in 2011 with energy star rated roofing products, this program will lower your overall tax bill. Hopefully these rebates will also extend into 2012 as well.

Asphalt Shingle Warranty

Roofing material warranties will differ from one manufacturer to another and from one shingle to another. One of the most common warranties you will see is the 30 year warranty on many of the designer or architectural shingles. This warranty means that if in 30 years, if the shingles should fail in some way, the manufacturer will cover the homeowner if they determine the failure was caused by a material defect. If this is the case, the manufacturer will pay the homeowner a pre-determined price and then prorated it from when the warranty began. Warranties are typically always pro-rated from the time of purchase and non-transferable.