When people think of roofs, they tend to picture one of three materials – ceramic tiles (for that Latin/tropical/old world aesthetic), utilitarian metal sheets, or the classic roofing shingle. However, a lot of people may not realize that shingles come in a variety of types, the traditional gray or black asphalt shingle just being one of the more common of them.

Today, we’re going to talk about shingles. We’re going to learn about what defines a shingle, what the more common diverse types of them are, and the advantages that make them such a go-to all over the world. When it comes to your roof, being well-informed can allow you to make the best possible decisions.

At JDT Construction, we have decades of experience working with all kinds of roofing materials, and one thing we’ve learned, and stand by, is that customers should be fully informed at every step of the process.

What is a Shingle Roof?

Shingles are not defined by the materials they are made of, nor by being flexible or exceptionally thin (those two attributes are served for a specific family of them, in fact). It’s actually in the cut of the materials, and the manner in which they’re laid out on the roof.

Shingles are roughly tile or rectangular sections (though they can have shaped edges for decorative purposes), laid out in a pattern of overlapping horizontal rows along the roof. The rows usually stagger to some degree from one to the next for optimal coverage. The closest analog in nature would be snake or fish scales, which have a similar stagger and overlap.

With some types of shingles, these overlapping seams are barely perceptible, or almost entirely invisible (as is the case with architectural shingles).

They’re affixed to a roof in various ways, depending on the materials. Thin, flexible shingles are applied using nails/staples as well as adhesive compounds (sometimes activated with heat). Other, more specialized shingles are affixed in unique ways.

Types of Shingle Roofs

There are many different types of shingle roofs, as we alluded to earlier. The asphalt shingles that most people think of, are just one of the older, more common types. Below are some of the most commonly-used types of shingles currently available. This is not an all-encompassing list, however, because new innovations in shingles occur all the time, while others vanish as quickly as they appear.

  • Asphalt/Polymer/Fiberglass – Asphalt shingles comprise a whole family of shingles, from the most traditional, old-fashioned asphalt shingle, to modern polymer or fiberglass-reinforced variations. However, on a casual glance or feel, they’re all relatively easily-identified by their rough feeling and their flexible nature. There is usually a granular surface (often made of actual pulverized stone). New, unused shingles of this variety will often have a tape backing called a “release film”. These shingles usually tend to be shades of gray or black, but different color variations do exist.
  • Wood – Wooden shingles are, unsurprisingly, older than asphalt shingles. The most common forms of these are the likes of cedar shake, which have a much more scale-like appearance, the edges and staggering much more visible, even from a distance. They can run a vast array of colors if stained, but natural ones have earth and wood tones, often becoming grayish if allowed to naturally weather. These are often associated with Victorian or maritime architectures in the US but have a heritage dating much further back, and across many more cultures.
  • Slate – Slate is a resilient, light-weight stone that’s easily “flaked” or cut into thinner, durable shapes. Slate roofs traditionally resemble cedar shake in form factor, with the same distinct edges and greater thickness, but some modern slate roof shingles can look a lot more like brick or even asphalt shingle. Slate tends to have a dark gray appearance.
  • Metal – Metal shingles are one of the less well-known shingles, and are a more modern solution. These often resemble the shake appearance of wood or slate but can be made in similar form factors to thin, a more uniform look achieved by asphalt shingles. Metal is diverse, with its ability to take on varied form factors, and taking on any desired color.

Advantages of Shingle Roofs

Why are shingles so much more popular across most of the world, than something like rolled material, or cement/ceramic tiles? They have a host of advantages across varied climates.

  • Overlapping design prevents water damage.
  • Modular form factor means they can deflect radiation more efficiently, the entire roof heating up less quickly.
  • They allow the roof to breathe easily.
  • Damage is easier to repair, due to the modular nature of shingles. A broken shingle is easily replaced, where a more solid material would be a greater undertaking.
  • Many varieties are very affordable.
  • Every roofing contractor knows how to work with them.

To learn more about shingles and other roofing materials, and why they’re worth considering, fill out our contact form below!