Invented in the early twentieth century, asphalt shingle has become the most popular type of roofing material for residential properties in the US thanks to their high durability and cost effectiveness. Although asphalt shingle roofs demand relatively low maintenance and are typically guaranteed to last between 15 and 30 years before they require any major repairs or replacement, the time will inevitably come when your home needs a new roof. Protecting what is likely to be your single most valuable investment, it is essential that your roof be maintained to impeccable condition throughout its lifespan.
Traditional asphalt shingles consist of a lower layer of felt paper saturated in asphalt to provide waterproofing. Over this layer is a self-adhesive layer of asphalt topped by a surface of ceramic granules to provide protection from the weather. Since the 1980s, however, asphalt shingles have used a base layer consisting of woven fiberglass for enhanced durability, decreased weight and improved fireproofing. Fiberglass shingles have become the material of choice for residential roofs, and they also come in a wide variety of different styles and colors. By contrast, traditional asphalt shingles, which were briefly marketed as ‘organic shingles’ until 2005, have now been rendered obsolete.
Types of Asphalt Shingle Roof
Asphalt shingles primarily come in two varieties: architectural and traditional 3-tab designs. Architectural shingles tend to be tougher as well as more aesthetically pleasing, while the cheaper traditional 3-tab design, which is named so due to the three tabs at the bottom of each shingle, remains the most popular choice.
Architectural shingles are usually the preferred choice for steep roofs, since they are most visible from ground level. These shingles also offer a more distinct and higher quality appearance, and they come in various shapes and sizes to give your roof a more individual appearance. They tend to be significantly more durable, but they also weigh up to fifty percent more, making them unsuitable for certain types of residential properties. Architectural asphalt shingles add value to your home, and they are typically guaranteed to last at least thirty years, although they are more expensive than the standard 3-tab design.
3-tab shingles come in the same size and shape, and because they consist of fewer materials, they weigh much less than architectural shingles. On the other hand, they have a shorter lifespan, although most roofing contractors still provide a 25-year limited warranty. They are also more prone to algae and discoloration in wetter areas of the country. However, the 3-tab design remains the preferred choice for lower-value residential properties.
Important Factors to Consider
There are various environmental and internal factors that determine the durability and performance of any asphalt shingle roof:
. The attic should be properly ventilated in order to maximize the lifespan of your roof. Poor ventilation greatly increases the risk of structural damage over time and the building up of ice dams during the winter. The consequences of having a poorly ventilated attic can lead to leaks and faster aging of the roofing materials. Optimal ventilation requirements will vary depending on the pitch of the roof as well as its internal structure among other factors.
. It is essential to have a solid roof deck to help maintain the structure of your roof. The roof deck is the structure of the roof beneath the shingles, and your roofing contractor should assess its condition to determine whether or not it requires repairs before the shingle is replaced. Any damage must be remedied before any further action is taken, lest you end up putting your home at risk.
. Ice dams can cause severe problems during the winter months, causing shingled roofs to leak and the shingles themselves to crack and deteriorate rapidly. The materials you choose for your roof must be suitable for the environment in order to minimize the chances of ice dam backups causing problems within the projected lifespan of the roof.
Although asphalt shingles are durable relatively cheap and easy to maintain, they do still require some regular attention to ensure a maximal lifespan.
. Ventilation of the attic space is especially important to regulate the temperature difference between the interior and exterior of the roof. This will help to prevent snow from melting too quickly and causing ice dam backups in the surrounding gutters. The eaves must also be properly ventilated.
. Gutters should always be kept clear of debris, while downspouts must be cleaned periodically to prevent them from getting clogged up. The gutters also need to be installed well below the slope of the roof so that there is plenty of space for ice, snow and detritus to escape without getting lodged on the roof.
. In a relatively wet climate, algae buildup can also be a problem with asphalt shingles, and it will need to be cleaned periodically. Your roofing contractor may provide this service for a certain period of time after installing your new roof, though there are also cleaning products available for consumers.
When to Replace Your Roof Shingles
Within the first couple of years, asphalt shingles will start to curl at the edges, but this is nothing to be alarmed by, since it is a normal and expected part of the aging process. After this time, the roof should remain stable for another 20 to 30 years depending on various environmental, construction and maintenance factors.
Once the surface of the shingles starts to crack or become smoother as the ceramic granules wear away, you’ll need to think about replacing the roof. Over time, the heat of the sun causes the shingles to crack and become brittle, and this can leave your roof open to leaks. Blisters in the shingles may also appear, particularly if the attic is poorly ventilated.
Lane House Construction provides two options for shingle roofs: the standard 3-tab design and the architectural design. Our 3-tab shingle roofs come with a 25-year limited warranty, while our architectural shingles feature a 50-year limited warranty. All of our asphalt roofing shingles are of the durable fiberglass variety constructed from the best materials available to the highest quality standards.