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Get A New Shingle Roof Soon

Sep 6, 2007
Asphalt shingles are economical and versatile, which may be why they represent more than 80 percent of the roofing market. They're relatively inexpensive to buy and install, are suited to roof pitches from 4-in-12 to vertical, and are available across a wide range of quality, cost, and style.

Easy to cut, fit, and fasten, asphalt shingles are compatible with many different kinds of flashing and edging products, and don't require specialized accessories for roof edges, wall terminations, chimney or vent flashings.

Choosing Shingles

There are two kinds of asphalt shingles on the market: Fiberglass shingles and organic-mat shingles. Both are made with asphalt, but fiberglass shingles use a fiberglass reinforcing mat, while the organic kind use a cellulose-fiber mat derived from wood. The organic mat of traditional shingles has to be saturated with soft asphalt, then coated with a harder asphalt for protection; the fiberglass shingles need only the hard asphalt coating.

Fiberglass shingles are thinner, lighter, easier to lug around, and carry a better fire rating than organic shingles, but organic-mat shingles are tougher and stay more flexible in cold weather. Fiberglass shingles predominate in southern and central regions, but organic shingles are still popular in the North and are almost the universal choice in Canada.

Be Aware Of The Warranties

When it comes to shingles, the drawbacks center on service life. While asphalt shingles come with warranties ranging from 20 to as long as 45 years, roofers and builders remain skeptical of those warranties. Since warranties are a marketing device, they are not a reliable predictor of lifespan.

In the past decade, there have been many complaints of asphalt shingle failure long before warranties expired. Many homeowners have been dissatisfied with warranty payouts that didn't cover all the costs of repair or replacement, as well.

So rather than compare warranties, it's wise to demand shingles that meet industry manufacturing standards. Fiberglass asphalt shingles are covered by a standard called ASTM D-3462, which requires products to pass tear-strength and nail-withdrawal tests.

Until recently, few shingles on the market actually passed the tests. But codes have been upgraded to permit only fiberglass shingles labeled as complying with this standard to be installed. Today some manufacturers even have the independent Underwriters Laboratory certify that they measure up. To check for compliance, look for the familiar UL logo on the label next to the ASTM D-3462 certification.

Organic-mat shingles are covered by their own standard, ASTM D-225. In practice, organic shingles have a much higher tear strength and nail-pull resistance than fiberglass shingles.

They are also heavier because of the additional asphalt used to make them. Old-time roofers used to pick heavier shingles when they wanted a better brand; while this may not hold true for modern fiberglass shingles, it's still a good rule for the organic kind.

Shingles that pass the standards cost more than low-grade shingles. However, installation is a big factor in total roof cost and, since it costs just as much to nail on poor shingles as first-rate ones, cheap shingles are rarely worth it.

Shingle Appearance

Asphalt shingles now come in all kinds of colors and profiles. The old 3-tab shingles are still around, but a wide range of "architectural" shingles, whose profiles suggest the random shadows and patterns of slate, wood shingles, or ceramic tile, are readily available.

These specialty shingles often carry a longer warranty but, once again, beware: Check to see that the shingle actually has two full layers, not a half-width of lower lamination. Also, make sure the package is labeled as complying with ASTM D-3462 or ASTM D-225.

Architectural shingles have a random pattern and, as a result, can be easier to lay out than the standard 3-tab kind. With a traditional shingle, you have to line up the tabs properly, or the roof will have a haphazard, wavy appearance.

The surface pattern of the architectural shingles, on the other hand, obscures the shape of the shingles themselves, and provides the desired appearance while saving effort on the layout. This savings in installation time may actually help offset the sticker price associated with specialty shingles.
About the Author
Shane Hester has been helping website owners increase profits through exclusive webdesign and marketing at WebFirstCreations.
See his companies latest creation: Mclean Roofing Contractors or contact him directly at WebFirstCreations.
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