The Short Guide to Asphalt Shingles Roofing.
According to our practice asphalt shingles still dominate in the Canada roofing industry, accounting for more than 70% of all residential, sloped roofs including new construction and replacements. That’s probably why you’re here – asphalt shingles are on the shortlist of materials you’re considering for your home, garage, or business.
However, not all asphalt shingle roofing products are created equal. This guide will help you:
Understand the main types of asphalt shingles
What Are Asphalt Shingles?
There are many reasons for the popularity of asphalt shingles, and we’ll cover them in the pros and cons section, but the main reasons are low cost and ease of installation – the combination of low cost and fairly decent durability and longevity.
Did you know? The longevity of any asphalt shingle product is determined by the shingle thickness and quality of construction. More on that below:
Composition of a modern asphalt shingle:
1. Fiberglass mat: The core of today’s durable asphalt shingles is fiberglass mat. This material is chosen because it is lightweight, resists tearing and holds asphalt very well.
2. Asphalt: The fiberglass mat is run through a saturator tank where the glass fibers are thoroughly coated with hot asphalt, a petroleum-based material used for its resistance to moisture. The weight and toughness of the asphalt are useful for wind and impact resistance.
3. Mineral granules: The part of the asphalt shingle that will be exposed to the elements is coated with mineral granules that are available in a wide range of colors.
Shingles can be given a single color to produce a solid-color shingle or a blend of colored granules for a more nuanced look.
The ceramic-coated granules also reflect the UV rays of the sun – the single worst threat to shingles.
4. Sealant strips: Continuous or intermittent lines of raw asphalt are applied to the top part of each shingle that will be covered by the next layer installed. The sealant strip bonds the shingles together once they heat up in sun and warmth.
Note: If you come across a discussion of organic shingles in your research, the information is likely quite old or encyclopedic. Organic shingles didn’t perform up to expectations, so most manufacturers stopped making them in 2008.
Did you know? The sunnier a climate is, the shorter the lifespan of the average shingle will be.
Asphalt Shingle Types
Maybe your grandparent’s home was probably covered in three-tab asphalt shingles, since for decades that was the only choice. In the 1970s, manufacturers began producing thicker shingles that came to be called laminate, dimensional and architectural shingles. There’s more to the design than just appearance, so let’s start by exploring each type:
Three-tab AKA 3-tab shingles and strip shingles
Pros: 3-tab shingles are quite flat and light. They’re +/-30” wide and about 12” tall. The exposed portion of the shingle is notched to produce three tabs that appear separate and are designed to look like slate tiles.
Dimensional AKA Architectural Shingles
Dimensional, architectural (newer term) and laminate (an older term meaning “layered”) all refer to the same type of shingle. Dimensional shingles feature a thicker base layer of asphalt-saturated fiberglass. Fused to that solid layer is a tabbed layer, usually with more pronounced notches.
The effect is shingle with a thicker “3D” profile that gives dimensional shingles a slate tile or wood shingle or shakes appearance that is more genuine. Dimensional shingles are 32”-34” wide and up to 14” tall.
Pros: Architectural/dimensional shingles cost more than 3-tab shingles, but the appearance is generally favored, especially on upscale homes. Architectural shingles will normally have a longer service lifespan than 3-tab shingles, thanks to their thickness and durability. They also have superior impact resistance thanks to the greater amount of material and wind uplift protection.
Cons: A disadvantage is that on low-slope roofs, 3/12 and 4/12 pitch for example, the higher-profile makes them more susceptible to wind uplift. This an instance where a metal roof could be a more durable option.
In recent years, ultra-dimensional shingles have come into vogue. Some manufacturers call them premium shingles, though the term architectural shingles are often used too. These are super-thick and heavy shingles, up to 450 lbs per square (100 square feet). Most have higher profiles and distinct cuts to more closely mimic the appearance of genuine slate and cedar roofing.
Cons: The premium good looks of these shingles come with a higher price tag.
Special-purpose Asphalt Shingles
Standard asphalt shingles are suitable for most climates. However, we might want to consider one of the following if your climate necessitates it, coz climate zones Canada have a big difference.