WHAT ARE ASPHALT SHINGLES?
Asphalt shingles, aka fiberglass shingles, are a cost-effective type of roofing material that remains popular all over the country. Their basic construction includes a fiberglass mat core that is encased in liquid asphalt and coated with colored, ceramic granules.
There are two basic types of asphalt shingles: 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles. Three-tab shingles are a single layer.
Architectural asphalt shingles are a type of shingles also known as laminated, designer or luxury shingles – the terms are synonymous. They include at least 2 asphalt-fiberglass layers to give the shingle 3-dimensional appearance. The top layer is cut to look like individual stone slates or wood shingles or shakes. This type of shingle is considered a better choice than 3-tab shingles to boost a home’s curb appeal.
For more in-depth information visit our 3-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles comparison report.
Most brands make a few light-colored, highly reflective asphalt shingle lines that meet Energy Star and Cool Roof Rating Council requirements. Just make sure a white or off-white roof is going to fit your neighborhood for style.
Asphalt shingles have a Class A fire rating, which is the top rating for residential roofing material. Composite shingles have the same fire rating / fire resistance.
WHAT ARE COMPOSITE SHINGLES?
Composite shingles, also known as composite shake, polymer and synthetic shingles, are made from a mixture of recycled plastics. Some contain rubber or rubber-like polymers. Composite shingles are available in many shapes, sizes and colors. They look something like traditional asphalt shingles but have a higher profile. The best composite roof shingles closely resemble wood shakes or slate. Composite shingles are more durable and better for the environment due to their recycled/recyclable content.
The installation techniques are pretty much the same for installing asphalt and composite shingles. The same tools are needed to complete the job, and the amount of time needed is the same. If you’re thinking of DIY and have installed asphalt shingles, you’ll likely have no problem with composites.
In terms of repairs, neither type of shingles can be fixed. So, we are really talking about the removal and replacement of the damaged shingles. Generally speaking, repairs to asphalt shingle roofs are easier than repairs to composite roofing.
Asphalt shingles cost $3.25 to $7.25 per square foot for most options – though you can pay up to $10/square foot installed for premium shingles are a complex roof. In our comparison, that comes to around $7,850 – $17,400 for 2,400 square feet of roofing on a home with a 2,000 square foot footprint. A major factor is the specific shingle you choose, since cost varies a lot between cheapest and most premium.
The cost of composite shingles is $7.00 to $15.00 per square foot. Again, the specific roofing you choose is going to determine your total price range. Total cost on a typical roof with 2,400 square feet of material is $17,000 – $36,000.
For both asphalt shingles and composite, other factors are:
- Additional materials used for roofing paper plus eave and valley protection
- Complexity of the roof. Obviously, a single story roof with gables and one ridge costs less in installation charges than a multi-story, steep roof with complex design and hips instead of gables.
Further Reading: Compare the Costs Between Different Types of Shingles
When comparing the lifespan and durability of composite shingles and asphalt shingles, the composite shingles wins by a large margin. Composite shingles can last as long as 50 years with the proper installation and maintenance. The warranty for composite shingles usually lasts between 20 and 50 years (sometimes defined as Lifetime), depending on the brand.
In comparison, asphalt shingles generally last 15 to 30 years. The warranty for asphalt shingles is usually between a 25 and 50-year warranty, depending on what type of asphalt shingles and what brand is being used.
You’ll find a few Lifetime warranties on premium shingle lines, and again, Lifetime is usually defined as 50 years.
Buying tip: If your area experiences a lot of hail storms, or if your home has large trees around it that occasionally drop good-sized twigs/branches, consider a quality shingle labeled IR for impact resistance. Each shingle manufacturer makes several impact resistant options with an impact rating of 3 (good) or 4 (best).
As noted, 3-tab or strip shingles have a wind resistance of 60 mph winds; Most architectural shingles have a wind resistance of 110 to 150. GAF has introduced the Timberline HDZ shingle with a “No-Limit” wind resistance warranty.
Each shingle manufacturer defines warranty terms and lengths a little differently, so it is important to read the details or ask your roofing contractor to outline key differences in warranty coverage.
Neither roof requires heavy maintenance. Moss and algae are more likely to build up on asphalt and affect its appearance. Algae causes stain streaks. If homes in your area have stained asphalt roofs, consider metal or an asphalt shingle treated for algae resistance. You might still need to power wash the roof every 3-5 years to prevent or get rid of staining.
Composite shingles are much easier on the environment. While both are made from petroleum products, and neither are biodegradable, composite shingles are composed of recycled material and can be recycled when removed. They are easier to shred/recycle than asphalt shingles, so the prospect of it actually being done is much higher.
Unfortunately, most asphalt shingles eventually end up in a landfill, even though they can be recycled. The recycling of asphalt shingles is not common, since there are few recycling plants, which are overwhelmed, and there’s not a large market for the materials. Ask your roofing contractor what it would do with asphalt shingles for disposal to see whether recycling is a legitimate option.
What’s your budget? If needing a budget-friendly roof is the deciding factor, then an asphalt shingle roof is the easiest choice.
When there is more room for cost, and you prefer the beefier look that composite offers, composite shingles will also deliver better durability and have less negative impact on the world in which we all live.