How long does an asphalt shingle roof last?

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material since the early 1900’s. They are less costly and can last as long if not longer than wood, wood shakes, tile, metal, or slate. So what type of asphalt shingles are available and what makes them work so well?

Fiberglass or Organic Shingles?

Developed in the 1980s, fiberglass shingles are now the most popular type of asphalt roofing. While fiberglass shingles have a lighter weight, they are constructed to be both strong and durable. They consist of a woven fiberglass base mat that is covered with a waterproof asphalt coating. Ceramic granules are then added to help shield the shingle from harmful UV rays. This woven fiberglass mat is more fire-resistant than organic shingles and usually lasts longer.

Organic shingles are also known as mat-based shingles. With over 40 percent more asphalt than fiberglass shingles, these shingles are heavier, thicker, more costly, and less environmentally friendly. They are made from asphalt-soaked recycled felt paper, then coated with adhesive asphalt where the ceramic granules are embedded. Organic shingles are more flexible and considered more rugged, they can also absorb more water and have the tendency to warp as they age.

Three-tab or Architectural Asphalt Shingles?

Most asphalt shingles measure 12 by 36 inches but two types are the most common: three-tab or architectural.

Three-tab shingles get their name from the tabs cut out from the shingles’ lower edge making each shingle actually look like three separate pieces. They are very common and the most economical choice.

Architectural shingles do not have any cutouts but have the lower portion laminated with extra asphalt, giving them a distinctive, contoured look. Shingle layers are bonded with asphalt sealant, helping to adding additional waterproofing capabilities. Durable in most conditions, architectural shingles are not the best choice for low-sloping roofs which may be more vulnerable to wind-driven rain.

Asphalt Styles

You may not always recognize asphalt shingles because some are made to mimic the look of slate, wood shakes, or tile. Shapes can vary as well like Victorian scallop-edged shingles or Colonial square, slate-looking shingles.

Color can vary greatly from all shades of grays or browns, and even blues and greens. Variegated colors can make a new roof look more weathered to better fit an older home.

How Long Do Asphalt Shingles Last?

While most manufacturers currently warranty shingles to last anywhere from 15 to 30 years, your particular climate and weather play a large role. Hot, long summers tend, large temperature swings from day to night, or severe winters can all decrease your roof’s efficiency over time.

Your roof pitch can also affect its life. Low-sloping roofs do not allow rain to drain off quickly and are more vulnerable to wind-driven rain and ice buildup. Steeper sloped roofs, however, allow water and ice to drain off quickly reducing their destructive capabilities.

Algae-resistant shingles are available with copper-coated granules to help prevent discoloration and deterioration in areas where algae and fungus growth is a problem. Be aware that these special shingles do come at an added cost.

Manufacturers offer different warranties so be sure to read yours carefully. Most mainly cover defects in material such as shingle curling, cupping, splitting, or granule loss. The majority will not cover natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, severe wind or hall, or earthquakes. Coverage usually ends when you sell your home during the warranty period.

Please note that homeowner-installed shingles may not be covered by a warranty as coverage can be nullified if the manufacturer determines its product was installed improperly.

How Do I Know When My Shingles Need to be Replaced?

If you notice any of the following issues, you should consult a professional roofer about replacing your asphalt shingles:

  • Curled or buckled shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Cracked shingles
  • Lifted shingles
  • Ceramic granules accumulating in your gutters and downspouts

Contact Us Today

Not all roofing issues are obvious to the nonprofessional. Just because there is not a current leak does not mean that your roof is necessarily sound or that it has other issues. Experienced professionals like The Northface Roofing Company can provide you with sound advice based on years of experience with exceptional customer service. Contact us today. In MA, call 774-203-9998 or in CT, call 860-255-8668.