Consider Asphalt Roofing Shingles for Quality and Price

Susanne Clemenz

Asphalt roofing shingles, or composite shingles, are the most widely-used roofing material in the U.S. Let's compare them to wood shakes, roof tiles, slate shingles, and cement shingles:

  • Cost. Asphalt shingles are generally the least expensive roofing material to purchase. They are generally easier to install so roofing job costs are lower.
  • Roof Structure. Asphalt shingles weigh less, so don't require the potential extra structural support of wood shake, tile, slate, or cement roofing.
  • Fire Protection Rating. Fire protection ratings vary with quality, but many are inherently fire-resistant. While they do not perform as well as tile, slate or cement, they will generally outperform wood shingles.
  • Durability. Asphalt shingles are subject to damage from high winds and eventual deterioration from sun and precipitation, however many have thirty or forty-year guarantees against deterioration. They generally perform on par with wood shingles based upon life expectancy studies of home components. However, if you are looking for ultimate durability, slate has been known to last 100 years or more.
  • Style. Shingles are available in many styles and colors.

Aphalt Shingle Options

Of course higher quality roofing comes with a higher price. But a roof is so important that purchasing a high quality, low-maintenance roof may be worth delaying other home improvements. Options are:

  • The most inexpensive ashpalt or composite shingles have a base of asphalt-coated recycled paper or wood. They are surfaced with decorative mineral grains. Color selections may be limited.
  • Better quality composite shingles have a waterproof woven fiberglass base saturated with asphalt and surfaced with a broad choice of decorative mineral grains. Shingle rows are laid from bottom to top to facilitate water runoff.
  • The highest quality composite shingles have a fiberglass and asphalt base, and are laminated with additional layers to give three-dimensional affects resembling shake, cement, or slate roofs. Remove existing shingles to lessen the weight load.
  • Interlocking shingles are individual shingles designed for wind resistance. They can be laid in a variety of patterns.

Choosing a Roofing Contractor

Choosing a reputable roofing contractor is every bit as important as choosing the right composite shingle. Here's what to do:

  • Ask neighbors, friends, and building supply stores for referrals. You'll want three good bidders.
  • The roofing contractors should have years of local experience. Ask to talk with his non-family customers.
  • Ask for proof of current licensing, bonding, and Workman's Comp insurance.
  • Check with your local Registrar of Contractors and the Better Business Bureau for repetitive or unresolved problems.
  • Be sure the contract spells out the process and products in detail. Specify a completion date, and a daily monetary penalty for each day beyond the deadline.
  • Make lack of timely communications a reason for cancelling the contract.asphalt shingle sheathing felt

In terms of roofing best practices, a reputable, licensed contractor will generally help you avoid most problems. However, a little knowledge is always helpful to make sure that your job is done right.

  • Make sure that your contractor removes the old roof and felt and inspects the sheathing, the underlying plywood beneath the roofing material for rot or water damage. For new sheathing, seams should be staggered for stability.
  • When removing the old roof, make sure the contractor responsibly disposes of the materials in a dumpster. You don't want to be running around the perimeter of your home picking up old shingles, felt and nails.
  • Avoid installing a new roof over the old roof. Your old potentially leaking or rotting roof is not a good foundation for your new roof. Valleys and edges are difficult to treat with an existing roof in place - this is especially important in the Northeast and Midwest. Installing a new roof over an old roof will most certainly reduce the expected lifetime of your roof.

A new roof gives a visual sense of quality as well as enhancing the dollar value of your home. Find more detailed information on asphalt shingles, please refer to our article: Repairing and Replacing Asphalt Shingle Roofs.

Shop for the asphalt shingles you prefer, then enjoy your safe, beautiful roof for years.

About the Author
Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and remodelled her newly-purchased home, working with contractors on the floorplan, electrical changes, painting, installation of wood laminate flooring, flood prevention walls and stonework, major drainage issues, an irrigation system and a landscaping. Researching and keeping up on issues and products related to home design and maintenance is an ongoing avocation.

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