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Understanding Your Home: What Are Asphalt Roofing Shingles?

Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Understanding Your Home: What Are Asphalt Roofing Shingles?

When it comes to protecting your home, the roof is one of the most important elements. And one of the most commonly used roofing materials is asphalt roofing shingles. But what exactly are asphalt roofing shingles?

Put simply, asphalt roofing shingles are thin, rectangular pieces of asphalt that are layered on top of each other to form a waterproof barrier for your roof. They are available in a wide variety of colors, styles, and designs, making them a versatile choice for homeowners.

Asphalt roofing shingles are a popular choice for many reasons, including their affordability, durability, and ease of installation. They can also add to the curb appeal of your home, as they are available in a range of styles that can match any architectural design.

So if you’re thinking about replacing or repairing your roof, you’ll definitely want to consider asphalt roofing shingles. But before you do, it’s important to understand the different types, benefits, installation process, and maintenance practices to ensure that you choose the right material for your home.

Types of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles have become a popular choice for homeowners, thanks to their durability, affordability, and versatility. Asphalt roofing shingles come in various types, each with its unique features and benefits. In this section, we will explore the three most commonly used types of asphalt roofing shingles available in the market.

1. Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional or laminated shingles, are a popular choice for homeowners looking for a high-end roofing option. These shingles are thicker and heavier than traditional asphalt shingles, providing better protection against harsh weather conditions such as wind, rain, and hail. Architectural shingles come in various textures and colors, giving homeowners more options to match their roofing to their home’s overall design. They typically have a longer lifespan than traditional asphalt shingles, lasting up to 30 years.

2. Three-Tab Shingles

Three-tab shingles are the most commonly used and least expensive type of asphalt roofing shingles. They consist of a single layer of asphalt and are lightweight, making them easy to install. Three-tab shingles are often used in residential developments and rental properties where cost-effectiveness is a priority. They typically last up to 20 years and come in a limited range of colors.

3. Designer Shingles

Designer shingles, also known as premium shingles, are the most expensive type of asphalt roofing shingles and provide a luxurious look to a home’s roof. These shingles come in a wide range of colors, styles, and textures, giving homeowners more design options. Designer shingles are thicker and heavier than traditional asphalt shingles, providing better durability and weather resistance. They typically last up to 50 years.

Types of Asphalt Roofing Shingles Cost Lifespan Features
Architectural Shingles $$-$$$ Up to 30 years Thicker, heavier, more textured, and better weather resistance
Three-Tab Shingles $-$$ Up to 20 years Lightweight and easy to install
Designer Shingles $$$-$$$$ Up to 50 years Thicker, heavier, more textured, and more design options

Benefits of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Choosing the right roofing material for your home is an essential part of homeownership. Asphalt roofing shingles have been a popular choice for decades due to their outstanding benefits and overall value. Here are some of the primary advantages of using asphalt roofing shingles:

Benefit Description
Durability Asphalt shingles are highly durable and can withstand all types of weather conditions, including wind, rain, and snow. They have a long lifespan and can last up to 30 years with proper care and maintenance.
Cost-effectiveness Asphalt shingles are among the most affordable roofing materials available, making them a popular choice for homeowners on a budget. Their low cost also makes them an excellent option for large-scale roofing projects.
Easy installation Asphalt shingles are relatively easy to install, which can reduce labor costs and time spent on the installation process. This can also mean less disruption to your daily routine.
Wide range of colors and styles Asphalt shingles come in a wide range of colors and styles to match any home design or architecture. This gives homeowners the flexibility to choose the material that best suits their aesthetic preferences.
Energy efficiency Asphalt shingles can be designed with energy-efficient features that help reflect sunlight and reduce cooling costs. This can translate into significant savings on your energy bills over time.

Additional Benefits of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

  • Asphalt shingles are fire-resistant and can provide added protection for your home in the event of a fire.
  • They are also lightweight, which can reduce the overall weight of your roof and potentially lower the cost of structural support.
  • Asphalt shingles are easy to repair, with replacement shingles readily available and easy to install.
  • They can also be recycled, making them an environmentally friendly choice for homeowners concerned with sustainability.

Overall, asphalt roofing shingles are a practical, cost-effective, and visually appealing roofing solution that can provide homeowners with reliable protection and long-lasting value.

Installation of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Installing asphalt roofing shingles is a straightforward process that can be accomplished by homeowners with some basic DIY skills. However, it’s important to ensure the proper installation techniques are followed to avoid potential issues, such as leaks or premature failure of the shingles. Here are the steps to follow:

Materials Needed:

  • Roofing felt
  • Starter shingles
  • Asphalt roofing shingles
  • Roofing nails
  • Ridge cap shingles
  • Roofing cement
  • Roofing nails gun
  • Chalk line
  • Utility knife
  • Caulking gun (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide:

Step Description
1 Prepare the roof by removing the old shingles, if necessary, and inspecting the roof deck for any damage or rot. Replace any damaged areas and install a layer of roofing felt over the entire deck.
2 Install starter shingles at the eaves, using roofing cement to secure them in place. Make sure the first row of shingles is straight and level using a chalk line as a guide.
3 Install full shingles on top of the starter row, staggering the joints to create a more secure and visually appealing pattern. Use four nails per shingle, driven at a slight angle so they penetrate the roof deck underneath.
4 Continue to install shingles, working your way up the roof and cutting shingles as necessary to fit around roof vents or other obstructions. Remember to leave a 6-inch gap between individual shingles to allow for expansion and contraction due to temperature changes.
5 Install ridge cap shingles at the peak of the roof, using roofing cement to secure them in place. Cut the shingles to fit and overlap each other, creating a watertight seal.
6 Seal any gaps or joints with roofing cement or caulk, to prevent water infiltration under the shingles. Inspect the roof periodically for any damage or signs of wear, and make repairs as needed.

By following these guidelines for proper installation of asphalt roofing shingles, homeowners can ensure that their roofs are both functional and aesthetically pleasing for years to come.

Maintenance of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Regular maintenance of your asphalt roofing shingles is essential to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. Here are some helpful tips for maintaining your shingles:

  • Inspect your roof regularly, especially after severe weather conditions such as storms or heavy rainfalls. Look for signs of damage such as missing or cracked shingles, and replace them as soon as possible.
  • Clean your roof at least once a year to remove debris such as leaves and branches. Use a broom or leaf blower to clear off the debris, and avoid using a pressure washer as it can damage the shingles.

In addition to these basic maintenance practices, there are other steps you can take to ensure that your asphalt roofing shingles remain in top condition. For example, consider applying a protective coating to your shingles to increase their durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions.

Coating Your Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Coating your asphalt roofing shingles involves applying a protective sealant to the surface of the shingles. This sealant can help to prevent damage from UV rays, extreme weather, and other environmental factors, and can help to extend the life of your roof.

There are several types of coatings available, including acrylic, silicone, and elastomeric coatings. Before applying a coating to your shingles, it’s important to clean the roof surface thoroughly to remove any debris, dirt, or other contaminants. Then, apply the coating evenly to the surface of the shingles, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Benefits of Coating Your Asphalt Roofing Shingles
Increased durability and longevity
Enhanced resistance to UV rays and other environmental factors
Reduced energy costs

Coating your asphalt roofing shingles is a simple and effective way to protect your investment and ensure that your roof remains in top condition for years to come.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Choosing the right asphalt roofing shingles for your home can be a daunting task, considering the plethora of options available in the market. The following factors will help you make an informed decision:

Color and Style

The color and style of your shingles can have a significant impact on the overall appearance of your home. Select a color and style that complements your home’s architectural design and exterior color scheme. Dark-colored shingles can absorb heat, making them suitable for cooler regions, while light-colored shingles reflect heat, making them ideal for hotter climates.


The warranty offered by the shingle manufacturer is an essential consideration when choosing asphalt roofing shingles. You should opt for shingles with a longer warranty period, as this indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in their product’s durability.

Climate Suitability

The climate of your region should also influence your choice of asphalt roofing shingles. For example, shingles with a high wind rating are preferable in areas prone to hurricanes and tornadoes. On the other hand, shingles with a high fire rating are best for regions vulnerable to wildfires.


The cost of asphalt roofing shingles varies based on quality, style, and warranty. It is essential to choose shingles that fit within your budget, without compromising quality and durability. Consider the long-term value for money, as cheaper shingles may require frequent repairs or replacement, ultimately costing you more in the long run.

By considering these factors, you can select the best asphalt roofing shingles for your home, ensuring durability, style, and cost-effectiveness.

Durability of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

When it comes to protecting your home from the elements, durability is crucial. Fortunately, asphalt roofing shingles are highly durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions and other environmental factors.

Resistance to Harsh Weather Conditions

One of the primary reasons homeowners opt for asphalt roofing shingles is their ability to withstand extreme weather conditions. Whether it’s heavy rainfall, high winds, or snowfall, asphalt shingles provide excellent protection for your home.

Additionally, asphalt shingles are designed to resist damage from hail, which can be a common problem in some areas.

Impact Resistance

Another advantage of asphalt roofing shingles is their impact resistance. This means that they are less likely to be damaged by falling tree branches, rocks, or other debris. If properly installed, asphalt shingles can even withstand the impact of small to medium-sized hailstones.

Fire Ratings

In addition to being resistant to weather and impacts, asphalt shingles also have good fire ratings. This means that they are less likely to ignite and spread flames in the event of a fire. Asphalt shingles are typically rated as Class A, B, or C, with Class A providing the highest level of fire resistance.

Cost of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

One of the biggest advantages of asphalt roofing shingles is their cost-effectiveness. They are significantly cheaper than other roofing materials such as metal or slate, making them a popular choice for many homeowners.

The cost of asphalt roofing shingles varies depending on the type and quality of the shingles. Three-tab shingles, the most basic and commonly used type, are the cheapest option, costing between $0.80 and $1.20 per square foot. Architectural shingles, which are thicker and more visually appealing, cost between $1.50 and $4.00 per square foot. Designer shingles are the most expensive, ranging from $3.50 to $6.00 per square foot.

In addition to the cost of the shingles themselves, installation fees will also need to be factored in. The cost of installation can vary depending on the size and complexity of the roof, as well as the contractor’s fees. Generally, expect to pay between $2.50 and $5.00 per square foot for installation.

While other roofing materials may have a higher upfront cost, asphalt roofing shingles offer long-term value for money. They have a longer lifespan than some cheaper materials and require less maintenance, making them a cost-effective option in the long run.

Energy Efficiency of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles are not only durable and cost-effective but also energy-efficient. Here are some of the ways in which asphalt shingles can help homeowners save on energy bills:

  1. Reflective properties: Many asphalt shingles feature reflective granules that help to reflect sunlight and reduce the amount of heat that is absorbed into the home. This can translate into significant savings on cooling costs during the warmer months.
  2. Cool roof technology: Some asphalt shingles are specifically designed to be “cool roofs,” which meet specific energy efficiency requirements established by the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. These shingles are typically light in color and have reflective properties that help to reduce energy costs.
  3. Insulation: Proper insulation is crucial to energy efficiency, and asphalt shingles can help to insulate homes by trapping heat during the colder months. This can help to reduce heating costs during the winter.

Choosing Energy-Efficient Asphalt Shingles

If you’re interested in maximizing the energy efficiency of your home, it’s important to choose asphalt shingles that are designed to be energy-efficient. Look for shingles that are ENERGY STAR certified, as these shingles meet specific requirements for reducing energy consumption and can help to lower your energy bills.

ENERGY STAR Criteria for Roofing Shingles ENERGY STAR Certified Asphalt Shingles
Reflect at least 20% of the sun’s rays GAF TimberlineĀ® Cool SeriesĀ® shingles
Meet minimum initial and aged solar reflectance and thermal emittance values CertainTeed Landmark SolarisĀ® Platinum shingles
Durability Owens Corning DurationĀ® Premium COOL shingles

By choosing energy-efficient asphalt shingles, homeowners can reduce their energy consumption, lower their utility bills, and help to minimize their impact on the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles are a popular choice for homeowners looking for a durable and cost-effective roofing solution. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about asphalt roofing shingles:

How long do asphalt roofing shingles last?

The lifespan of asphalt roofing shingles can vary depending on the quality of the materials and the installation. On average, asphalt shingles can last anywhere from 15-30 years.

How do I know if my asphalt shingles need to be replaced?

If you notice missing or cracked shingles, granules in your gutters, or leaks in your roof, it may be time to replace your asphalt shingles. It’s important to regularly inspect your roof for signs of damage to avoid costly repairs or replacements.

Can I install asphalt roofing shingles myself?

While it’s possible to install asphalt shingles yourself, it’s recommended that you hire a professional roofing contractor to ensure proper installation and avoid potential safety hazards.

Are asphalt shingles environmentally friendly?

Asphalt shingles can be recycled, but they are not considered the most environmentally friendly roofing option. However, some manufacturers offer shingles made with recycled materials or designed for energy efficiency, which can help reduce the environmental impact.

Do asphalt shingles come with a warranty?

Most asphalt shingles come with a warranty, but the length and coverage can vary between manufacturers. It’s important to carefully read the warranty details before selecting a shingle product for your home.

What is the cost of asphalt roofing shingles?

The cost of asphalt roofing shingles can vary depending on the type of shingle and the size of your roof. On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $2-$5 per square foot for asphalt shingles.

Can asphalt shingles be installed on a flat roof?

No, asphalt shingles are not suitable for flat roofs as they require a slope for proper water drainage. Flat roofs typically require a different type of roofing material, such as a rubber membrane or modified bitumen.

How do I maintain my asphalt shingles?

Regular maintenance is important to ensure the longevity of your asphalt shingles. This includes inspecting for damage, cleaning debris from the roof, and trimming overhanging tree branches that could damage the shingles.


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