Shingles are pretty darn prolific, aren’t they? It seems like wherever you look in the US and Canada, you see more asphalt shingle roofs than any other type. Even in areas famous for old colonial shake roofs, or exotic ceramic tile roofs, you still see way more shingle than anything else on average. Well, it’s not just something that seems to be the case – it is the case. Four out of five homes in North America and US territories have asphalt shingle roofs.
Even expensive stately homes and mansions often have this material on their roofs – so it clearly isn’t the cost, or at least, it’s not just the cost, right? Why are asphalt shingles so popular? Is it just a default “go-to” choice few give thought to, or do they have some clear-cut advantages that make them so very appealing to roofing contractors as well as homeowners?
Well, unsurprisingly, the answer to this is complicated on its face. Today, we’re going to demystify this, and when we do, the reasons for choosing asphalt shingle will actually become very obvious.
At JDT Construction, we’ve been working with shingle for decades, so if anyone knows every aspect of its strengths and weaknesses, it’d be us. If you’re ready to install an asphalt shingle roof, or have chosen something more exotic in spite of shingle’s many benefits, you can count on JDT Construction to do it right, and provide you with a roof that will serve you for a great many years to come.
To appreciate why asphalt shingles are so popular, the first thing we need to really understand is the composition of shingles, and acknowledge the different types of them available. Put simply, an asphalt shingle is a section of fiber. On its underside is an adhesive material which further strengthens its bond with the roof along with the nails used. On top is a layer of asphalt and crushed stone, designed to absorb and deflect solar heat and radiation, as well as slough off water, ice and debris.
Shingles actually come in a few forms, some of the modern implementations able to take on diverse appearances, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves in that respect.
There are essentially two basic types of shingle construction, three-tab, which is the standard form factor for typical asphalt shingles, and architectural shingles, which are basically their big brother.
Architectural shingles are doubled up on all of the materials, making them far thicker. This also gives them the issue of being far heavier, more difficult and labor-intensive to install, and considerably more expensive. However, their additional aesthetic flexibility, durability and additional layering capabilities make them powerful.
Now that we understand the basic construction of shingles, let’s talk about how this construction makes them so very performant, as well as very cost-effective. Shingles are a fairly light-weight material, which combined with their flush shape, makes them very resistant to wind damage. Their flexibility also makes them more resistant to impact damage from hail, fallen branches or other airborne debris that can be picked up in storms.
The granular surface, with its asphalt coating, is water-resistant as well, making rainfall able to flow off the roof very easily, and discouraging the formation of ice and snow to some degree. Along with this, the absorbent nature of asphalt means it can capture the heat of the day, and release it back into the air at night, keeping your home very cool in those hot summer months.
In the winter, they’re not much of a thermal conductor, allowing for your heat to stay inside, keeping your home warm and toasty and comfortable as well.
Energy efficiency, or being “green” is definitely a trait of asphalt shingles in a couple ways. For one, as we said, they’re good at deflecting heat from outside, and keeping desired heat inside. This reduces energy costs significantly for most home and business owners, and thus, has less of a carbon footprint overall.
Along with this, singles are often made from recycled materials, and themselves are very efficiently recycled in modern times, producing less waste and pollution in their manufacture. They also have very few emissions compared to some other materials.
We said that price isn’t the sole factor in the use of shingles, but their affordability is a major appeal, more so in their practicality. While some forms of shingle such as architectural are definitely not cheap, the overall cost-effectiveness of shingles is significant. When a shingle is damaged, it is easily replaced, where other materials are costlier and more difficult to do the same for.
This modular nature makes it much easier to repair a roof overall, where other types of roof need larger sections (or even the entire thing) replaced for what would be a trivial issue with a shingle roof.
Shingles, despite being designed to break away easily once damaged, are actually long-lived, lasting thirty years for the lower-end types, and upwards of half a century for something like architectural shingles. Advanced-fiber shingles of some design are even rated for nearly a century, though do remember that this is a lab result, which does not reflect performance in the field.
Finally, shingles don’t all have to be bland black or gray affairs. Shingles can come in a host of colors, including custom-formulated ones. A myriad of styles are possible too, allowing for the mimicry of shake, tile, even stone with some of the especially-advanced and gimmicky approaches catching on these days.
With shingles, you can get beauty, cost-effectiveness and durability without compromise, which isn’t something that can be said for most alternatives on the market. This is why as you observe the homes across this beautiful country, you’ll see far more shingle than anything else, and this isn’t a trend that’s likely to change in the future.
Ready to learn more about asphalt shingle, or have a shingle roof installed on your home? Don’t wait, fill out our contact form today for an estimate!