What’s the Difference Between Asphalt and Regular Shingles?

May 28, 2024

When it comes to roofing materials, homeowners have a myriad of options at their disposal, but the choice often boils down to various types of shingles. Among these, asphalt shingles are by far the most popular in many parts of the world, particularly in North America. However, the term “regular shingles” often causes confusion. What are regular shingles? How do they compare to asphalt shingles? In this guide, we at Tri-County Roofing will explore the differences between asphalt shingles and other common shingle types to help you make the most informed decision for your home.

Understanding Shingles: A Broad Perspective

Shingles are a type of roofing material that is laid in an overlapping fashion to protect and seal the roof, keeping out moisture and the elements. They can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, slate, metal, plastic, and composite materials like asphalt.

Asphalt Shingles: The Popular Choice

Asphalt shingles are called so because they are primarily made from asphalt. They consist of a fiberglass or organic mat coated with asphalt and then topped with ceramic granules. The asphalt provides waterproofing properties, while the granules offer color, reflectivity, and UV protection. Asphalt shingles come in two main types:

1. Three-Tab Shingles: These are strip shingles that have a very flat appearance and are typically the most economical. They have a uniform rectangular shape and are distinguished by the three tabs or cutouts along their lower edge.
2. Architectural Shingles: Also known as dimensional or laminated shingles, these are thicker and offer a more textured appearance. They mimic the look of natural wood or slate and provide enhanced aesthetic appeal and durability.

Regular Shingles: Clarifying the Confusion

The term “regular shingles” isn’t specific and can refer to any standard shingle type used in roofing. For the sake of clarity, we will compare asphalt shingles with a few other commonly used shingle types:

Wood Shingles
Made from natural woods like cedar or redwood, wood shingles offer a classic aesthetic. They are cut to a uniform size and shape and can last longer if properly maintained. However, they require more maintenance than asphalt shingles and are more susceptible to fire unless treated with fire retardants.

Slate Shingles
Slate shingles are made from natural stone and are known for their longevity and durability. They are also quite heavy and require a reinforced roof structure. Slate offers a distinctive, elegant appearance but is much more expensive than asphalt.

Metal Shingles
Metal roofing can also be formed into shingles rather than large panels. Metal shingles provide excellent durability and fire resistance. They can be made from a variety of metals, such as aluminum, steel, or copper, and often have a painted or coated finish.

Comparing Asphalt with Regular Shingles

When comparing asphalt shingles to other commonly used types like wood, slate, and metal, several factors come into play. First, in terms of cost-effectiveness, asphalt shingles stand out as the most economical choice. They are generally suitable for a wide range of budgets, whereas wood, slate, and metal shingles tend to be pricier, both in materials and installation costs.

In terms of durability and lifespan, asphalt shingles typically have a life expectancy of 15 to 30 years, which varies based on environmental conditions and the quality of the installation. On the other hand, more robust materials like slate and metal can last 50 years or more, and wood shingles, if properly maintained, can also reach a 30-year lifespan.

Maintenance requirements for these materials also vary significantly. Asphalt shingles are relatively low-maintenance but can be prone to algae and moss, which occasionally need to be cleaned to preserve their appearance and functionality. Wood shingles, however, require regular treatments to fend off decay, and slate shingles, while durable, can break and typically require professional repairs when damaged.

Finally, the ease of installation is another critical factor. Asphalt shingles are popular partly because they are lightweight and easy to install, making them a quick and less labor-intensive option for roofing projects. Slate and metal shingles require more specialized skills and tools for installation, which can add to the overall cost and duration of roofing projects. This array of characteristics highlights the importance of considering both immediate and long-term factors when choosing the right shingles for your home.

At Tri-County Roofing, we understand the importance of making an informed decision about your roofing materials. We are here to help guide you through the options and ensure that you choose the best shingles for your specific needs and preferences. Whether you opt for the popular asphalt shingles or venture into the realm of other “regular” shingles, our team is equipped to provide you with top-notch installation and service.

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