A well-built roof serves as an effective first line of defense of a structure. It wards off severe elements such as rain, snow and heat and helps keep the interior space well-insulated so the occupants can feel comfortable year-round. On the market, there is a wide range of residential and commercial roofing materials to choose from, but what remains the most sought-after is asphalt shingles. This durable and versatile roofing has come a long way since its introduction in the 1900s and is available in various colors, styles, and designs today. Read on to find out what makes asphalt shingles a worthwhile investment.

asphalt shingle roof

What Are Asphalt Shingles Made Of?

Asphalt shingles remain the most prominent roofing choice in North America, but they are also found on roofs in countries all over the world. So what are the raw materials that make up an asphalt shingle?

  • Fiberglass — An asphalt shingle is often reinforced with a thin fiberglass mat. This base mat is made from glass fibers attached together using stable resins and binders. The fiberglass is wound into large rolls at the fiberglass mill and provides the foundation for the asphalt and other materials.

  • Asphalt — Asphalt is the principal water-resistant ingredient in shingles. An end product of oil refining, the asphalt used is processed to a higher degree of toughness than road asphalt. To reach its desired viscosity, the roofing asphalt has to be oxidized by precisely blowing air through the hot asphalt. Too much air makes the shingles brittle and too little makes the asphalt soft and prone to scuffing. A fine mineral powder is then added to the asphalt to increase its weather resistance. Finally, the mineral-fortified asphalt coating is applied to the fiberglass mat.

  • Granules — To produce the granule surfacing of asphalt shingles on residential roofing, hard rock with specific properties is pulverized and screened to exact specifications. The granules are processed into a variety of colors through ceramic firing to create the long-lasting colors applied on the exposed part of the shingle. Granules are applied in their natural stone-colored state on the part of the shingle that is not exposed to view. Some shingles are coated with algae-resistant granules that discourage discoloration caused by blue-green algae. Reflective granules are also manufactured to make roofing shingles resistant to solar radiation.

  • Sealant — Blots of a thermally-activated asphalt sealant are applied to the shingles to bond them together on the roof. A similar product is used to bond multi-layer laminated shingles.

  • Release Film — A material called release film keeps the asphalt sealant from premature activation and sticking all the shingles when stored in bundles. It has a shiny, plastic-like appearance and is most often located on the back of the shingles.

What Are the Types of Asphalt Shingles?

There are three primary types of asphalt shingles used for residential roofing. While all three are made with similar materials, their attributes are not exactly the same. Here is a breakdown to help you decide.

  • 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles — Single-layer 3-tab asphalt shingles are the most basic and economical option on the market. Made from fiberglass base mat coated with mineral granules, each piece comes with varying color tones. These shingles are lightweight and can withstand elements for about 20 years if well-kept. One drawback of 3-tab shingles is its susceptibility to blow-off during rough weather conditions. They also lack the aesthetic qualities of other types of residential roofing shingles.

  • Dimensional Asphalt Shingles — Also known as laminated or architectural shingles, dimensional shingles feature two layers of shingles that are bonded together. Random notches are removed from the shingles located on the bottom layer to give the roof a three-dimensional texture and appearance. An impressive benefit of dimensional shingles is their extreme durability, and with regular maintenance, they can last for 30 years. The upfront cost of dimensional shingles is higher than that of 3-tab shingles but is about 75 percent less expensive than wood shakes.

  • Luxury Asphalt Shingles — Known for their multi-dimensional appearance and maximum durability, luxury asphalt shingles are designed to replicate cedar shakes and slate at a fraction of the cost. A luxury asphalt shingle roof is a great alternative for archaic-style houses that look the finest with slate- or shake-style roofs. However, this roof can weigh twice as much as a basic 3-tab asphalt shingle roof, so it may not be suitable for every home.

What Are the Benefits of Asphalt Shingles?

An asphalt shingle roof is a worthwhile investment because it offers a number of exciting benefits, including the following:

  • Exceptional Weather Performance — An asphalt shingle roof provides top-notch protection at a fair cost. The asphalt shingles from GAF come with Advanced Protection® Technology that imparts superior toughness and granular adhesion. This means you can count on your asphalt shingles to defend your home throughout the ever-changing seasons.

  • Versatility — A well-designed asphalt shingle roof can complement any architectural style. It comes in an array of sizes, cuts, shapes, textures and colors, and can resemble the authentic look of other high-end roofing materials such as slate, tile, and cedar shake. Whether you want a fresh, clean-cut look or a bit more rustic appeal for your home, asphalt shingles can do it for you.

  • Ease of Installation — Since asphalt shingles are lightweight, they do not require additional framing for support. This speeds up the renovation process, from the installation to the post-construction cleanup, minimizing the noise, mess, and other disruptions to your day-to-day household routines. Be sure to hire a factory-certified roof repair contractor who is up-to-date with the latest installation techniques to install this in-demand roofing type in a smooth and methodical manner.

  • Minimal Maintenance — An asphalt shingle roof only needs minimal upkeep throughout its service life, allowing you to save more on maintenance costs. To keep your asphalt shingle roof in tip-top condition, routinely clear debris from the roof, cut away vegetation, dig out leaves from the gutters, and keep the ventilation system in check. It is also important to perform minor roof repair services to stave off larger, more costly problems and maintain the structural integrity of the roofing materials and other related systems such as drainage.

  • Environmentally Friendly — When you install asphalt shingles on your roof, you play an essential part in helping the environment. High-performance and energy-efficient products like GAF’s Timberline® Cool Series® shingles not only lower your energy bills but also minimize your carbon footprint. Furthermore, asphalt shingles can also be used to make asphalt pavement for streets and highways at the end of their lifespan. This helps in reducing waste that goes directly into landfills.

Let DePalma Construction Help Achieve Your Dream Exterior

Breathe new life into your Pennsylvania home with a top-rated exterior makeover. GAF-certified contractor DePalma Construction is a premier source of residential and commercial roofing solutions, including shingle roof installation, storm-damaged roof repair, roof inspection and more. Our certified roofers are committed to providing industry-leading products and outstanding customer service to ensure the comfort and satisfaction of each and every client. Call us at (717) 275-9589 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment or request a free, no-obligation estimate.