When you compare asphalt shingle roofs to asphalt rolled roofing, also called roll roofing, most customers are considering their options for a shed, barn or commercial building.
Rolled asphalt is rarely used on a home, but it can be where local code allows and there are no homeowner association rules to follow that forbid it. Asphalt shingles remain the number-one choice for roofing a house.
This RenoCompare roofing material comparison guide takes that approach – the best material for a non-residential building such as an outbuilding or commercial building. If you’re planning to reroof your home, then comparing asphalt shingles to metal roofing is a more common consideration.
WHAT IS ASPHALT ROLLED ROOFING?
Roll roofing starts with a base of fiberglass or similar mesh material. It is soaked in oil-based asphalt and topped with a mineral coating or granules. For this reason, this is known in the industry as MSR, or mineral-surfaced roll roofing.
The material comes in rolls typically 3 feet wide and in lengths of 33, 50 and 100 feet.
The weight of asphalt rolled roofing is 70-80 pounds per 100-foot roll.
WHAT IS ASPHALT SHINGLE ROOFING?
Shingles remain the most popular roofing option in North America – a dependable choice for homes but also for commercial buildings, outbuildings like sheds and other roofing projects.
The construction of asphalt shingles is very similar to rolled roofing in that a layer or layers of fiberglass is soaked in asphalt. The lower portion is covered in granules that reflect sunlight and give the roofing its color.
Shingles are available in two basic options, 3-tab or strip shingles and laminate or layered shingles. The laminated shingles are called dimensional, architectural and designer shingles. Shingles range from about 35 to 42 inches wide depending on the brand, and they’re 12-14 inches from top to bottom. For more info please read the difference between 3-tab and architectural asphalt shingles.
You get much more choice with asphalt shingles. They’re available in a spectrum of color from nearly white to charcoal and black. Browns, blues and reds are all popular, and often more than one color granule is used to form a color blend or lightly mottled appearance.
The single layer of 3-tab and the top layer of dimensional shingles is cut to give the shingle the appearance of being individual pieces mimicking wood shakes or shingles or slate.
Asphalt shingles are much heavier than rolled roofing – generally 1.5 to more than 4 pounds per square foot, with an average of around 2 pounds/sq.ft.
Both materials can be installed over one layer of existing asphalt roofing. On a new roof, an underlayment like rolled felt paper saturated in asphalt is laid first whether you’re installing rolls or shingles.
Rolled roofing is rolled horizontally onto the roof starting at the eave and working toward the peak of the roof. Nails or staples are used to hold it in place, and the fasteners are covered by the roll of material above it.
During installation, the runs or MSR are overlapped by at least 12” depending on the slope of the roof. A sealing strip of asphalt on the back of the roll bonds to the layer on top of it.
Asphalt shingles are installed individually, also starting at eaves. Most require 3 or 4 nails. Some manufacturers offer a better wind warranty if additional nails and/or roofing glue is used. Shingles have an asphalt sealing strip too. Each row or course of shingles overlaps the row below it by about 50% for weather protection.
Rolled MSR roofing costs less than shingles. Some would call it cheap. Expect installed costs of $1.65 to $3.15 per square foot for underlayment, the roofing rolls and fasteners. About 70% of the cost is labor, so there’s good savings there if you’re able to DIY.
Asphalt shingle roofing at $2.75 to $5.35 is two to three times more expensive than roll asphalt roofing. The material cost is $1.50 to $2.25 per square foot with labor adding $2 to $3 per square foot on most jobs.
Tip: To determine how much roofing material you’ll need, use a roofing calculator that allows you to input the square footage of the building and the steepness of the roof.
For example, a 1,000 square foot detached garage with a 4/12 slope gable roof requires 1,050 square feet of material plus another 50 square feet for trimming and waste – a total of 1,100 square feet.
Prices for that size roof are:
Roll roofing: $1,815 to $3,450
Shingle roofing: $3,025 to $5,885
The price range for asphalt shingles is wider because there are more options in materials.
DURABILITY & CLIMATE
Roll roofing lasts 7-15 years.
3-tab shingles are good for 12-25 years, and dimensional shingles are a lifespan of 20-30 years.
The climate is the major factor in durability for both. Rolled roofing and shingles have a relatively short lifespan in sunny, hot and dry climates. When the asphalt dries out, the material becomes brittle and is more easily damaged by impact and wind. Metal is a better option for roofs in extreme climates.
Both roofing types do better in milder climates with fewer days of sun.
Both are oil-based materials, so they’re not eco-friendly in their construction.
Shingles and rolled roofing can be recycled, but they rarely are. Most roofing contractors aren’t interested in hauling them to a recycling facility – there aren’t many around.
And when we’ve contacted asphalt roofing recyclers, they are often overwhelmed with material and it piles up. The dirty little secret is that much of the material they don’t have the capacity to recycle ends up in a landfill anyway.
It’s pretty simple. If you want a roof installed on the cheap, rolled asphalt roofing is the affordable choice.
When you want a roof that looks better and lasts longer, then asphalt shingles are much preferred.