Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material in North America, covering roughly 80% of the homes in the U.S. The reasons for their popularity are that they are relatively economic, versatile, low-maintenance, and easily installed. In addition, a wide variety of colors and styles can lead to a customized appearance for your home. Manufacturer’s warranties for shingles range from 20 years to lifetime. The construction of the shingle itself, exposure to sunlight, slope of the roof, and proper /improper ventilation all contribute to the lifespan of an asphalt shingle. Generally speaking, asphalt shingles in southern climates tend to have shorter lives than those in other areas because of the higher temperatures. Another problem in high humidity areas like here in the southeast is blue- green algae. Algae are the cause for the black streaks seen on many roofs. However, most shingles now sold in the southeast have copper-coated or zinc-coated granules embedded with the other color granules to inhibit algae growth.

There are 2 basic styles of asphalt shingles: 3-tab shingles and laminate shingles. The 3-tab, which is still popular in our region, has 3 cut-outs and gives the appearance of 3 smaller shingles. 3-tab shingles are the most economic of the asphalt shingles and typically warranties are 20-25 years. Laminate shingles are made by laminating a top shingle with cut-outs on top of another shingle, or half shingle. The resulting appearance is more dimensional and the blending of the ceramic granules allow for color variations in the roof. Known as “Architectural” or “Dimensional” shingles, most laminate shingles have a profile that suggests the randomness of wood shake. Even thicker designer shingles will give the appearance of slate or tile. Laminate shingles offer a longer lifespan and better wind resistance than 3-tab shingles. Depending on the thickness, laminate shingle warranties range from 30 to lifetime.

The drawbacks for asphalt shingles are the relatively short service life, lower wind-resistance, and a susceptibility to staining. The obvious advantages are a relative low upfront cost and the versatility to work on virtually any sloped structure. Methods of working with asphalt tiles are described in detail on the site

Regardless of the type or style of asphalt shingle, your best bet is to hire a contractor who installs your roofing system to the manufacturer’s specifications. And remember, it’s not just a roof, it’s a roofing system. The roof deck, flashings, fasteners, and ventilation are all components of that system and getting them all right will ensure a long-lasting installation.

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