Asphalt shingles will last for about 15–30 years. They are, far and away, the most popular roofing material because of their cost-effectiveness.
When it comes to durability, though, be careful. Never choose the cheapest asphalt shingles, even if the cost is a major issue for you. Look for shingles that have a decent hail rating, a good indicator of impact resistance and overall durability.
Roofing material manufacturers are not legally required to report their hail rating, so if you don’t see one, this isn’t a good sign. Hail rating is particularly important with asphalt shingles. Because they’re so common, their quality ranges wildly.
Unfortunately, asphalt is a petroleum-based material. This means that it’s not the most sustainable roofing material option available. Fortunately, asphalt shingles are recyclable—just find a local shingle recycling center and they’ll ensure that your asphalt shingles don’t end up in a landfill.
Asphalt/Fiberglass Composition Shingles
Most homes are roofed with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to the more energy-efficient and durable metal roofing.
Asphalt (composition) shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options, and do a good job protecting homes from nature’s elements.
There are two main types of asphalt shingles:
Fiberglass shingles start with a fiberglass mesh mat that is covered in asphalt and topped with granules that provide colour and reflect some of the sunlight. Shingles made with fiberglass are lightweight and resist tearing.
Organic asphalt shingles begin with paper, often recycled, that is saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. The shingles are heavier and harder to work with than fiberglass, but they generally offer better stability in high winds. Although you can still see them on many roofs, organic shingles have been mostly phased out or discontinued over the course of the last decade. Why? Manufactures have stopped making organic shingles due to their tendency to dry out, become less-waterproof, and more prone to excess moisture absorption.
Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles
The reasons to choose asphalt shingles are:
Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection
Look good on any style of home
Shingles are often the most affordable roofing option, especially in good/better ranges
The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates
The cheapest 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to spruce up a home before putting it on the market
A broad selection of colours and styles including affordable three-tab and architectural shingles that mimic shakes and slate
DIY asphalt shingle installation is possible for those with good skills, experience, and equipment
No support beyond standard roof sheathing is required for shingles
3-tab shingles are rated for 60-70 MPH wind uplift, while standard architectural shingles are rated for 110 MPH winds; high-wind shingles are rated for 130 MPH
High-impact shingles such as the ones manufactured by GAF should be used for heavily-wooded locations and areas where large hail is possible
Some shingle repairs are easy and cost-effective
A few words of caution about asphalt shingles:
The lifetime cost of shingles is higher than metal, tile, or slate because composition shingles must be replaced more frequently
Cheaper asphalt shingles last as little as 10-15 years in hot, sunny climates
Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack
A poorly vented attic will trap heat and significantly shorten asphalt shingle lifespan by cupping or cracking them
While the asphalt shingle industry boasts that its products can be recycled for paving, few recycling facilities take asphalt shingles, and they are among the least eco-friendly roofing options
After the second layer of shingles needs replacing, all layers must be torn off the roof, creating extra expense and a lot of potential landfill waste
Mold or algae can be a problem on shingles in shady areas unless treated with anti-algae/anti-stain treatments
Organic/felt shingles are heavy; getting them to the roof in bundles can be a challenge