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Asphalt Roofing

A Comprehensive And Complete Guide To Asphalt Roofing In 2021

With 120+ years of rich history, asphalt roofing has become the most popular roofing type in North America. Over 75% of North American houses feature asphalt shingles for their roofing structure. The figures can be overwhelming, but they are true.

If you are thinking of installing asphalt roofing in your house, let us help you with everything you should know about asphalt shingle roofing. The question 'what is asphalt roofing?' is an interesting place to start with.

What is asphalt roofing?

In 1901, Henry Reynolds, a skilled roofing contractor from Michigan, crafted the first-ever asphalt roof shingles.

Back then, the experts made the roofs by pouring saturated asphalt on the rolls of cotton. However, the laying process of these rolls was cumbersome due to alignment mismatching, primarily when large estates and complexes were concerned.

But Henry solved this issue by cutting the asphalt rolls into smaller pieces of 8" x 16" shingles.

The initial shingles have gone through several upgrades over time and evolved into modern-day asphalt roof shingles, as we know them.

The installation of these robust asphalt shingles on the roofs of buildings is called asphalt roofing.

asphalt roofing blog

What are the materials used in the manufacturing of asphalt shingles?

The manufacturing of shingles highly depends on the different types of roofing materials, their quantity, temperature, and technology. Let us understand each step of the manufacturing process in brief.


Cotton rolls are now mostly replaced with fiberglass mats. The fiberglass is combined with solid resins and adhesives to provide the necessary length, diameter, and strength to the shingles.

Then the experts press the mix into mats that are rolled and transported to the shingles manufacturing unit.

Asphalt coat

The mats are unrolled and layered with asphalt coats of specific toughness and other properties.

The asphalt is blown with air at a particular temperature to increase the viscosity. However, too much air would cause the shingle to turn brittle, while too little may cause it to go soft.

Note- In terms of origin, the asphalt used in shingles manufacturing is similar to the road asphalt. It is the final product produced in the oil refining process.


The asphalt is reinforced with a fine mineral powder. The mix makes shingles highly resistant to extreme weather conditions and fire hazards. The professionals apply this mixture to the mats, top, and bottom.


The final mat is passed to the next stage of stone granule surfacing. Following that, according to the desired properties of shingles, various rocks are crushed and scrutinized for specific granule sizes.

Additionally, shingles can differ according to granule features like algae resistance and heat reflection capacity.

Specialists then apply these granules on the mats with natural color facing the non-exposed area. Finally, while imparting a particular color and look to the exposed part, the granules are colored with ceramic firing technique.

Sealant & laminate

The shingles are layered with sealants that need a specific temperature range to activate and act as adhesives. The professionals give shingles the required heat to stick together and make the roof environment-proof when placing them on the roof.

Further, experts believe in using lamination and adhesives to put shingles together, as they are made up of various layers like dragon tooth (upper layer), shim (bottom layer), and more. Thus, both elements- sealant and lamination, hold the roof after activation in windy and hailstorm-like situations.

Besides, shingles can stick together given the optimal heat conditions. So their back-surfacing with mineral powder is done. The process helps them refrain from sticking together when stored in a hot environment.

Though the list of manufacturing materials is small, any deviation from the standards can easily result in chipped, broken, and stick shingles. However, one must ensure that they are buying best roofing materials for homes.

red asphalt roofing blog

What are the qualities or advantages of asphalt roofing?

Asphalt roofing is a widely used roofing type for many reasons.

Allow us to list the top 9 advantages of installing asphalt shingles on your roof.

Cost efficiency

Asphalt shingles come at various prices according to the type and design you want. From the purchase to the installation, asphalt shingles make for an economical choice in the roofing industry. Moreover, they don't need a supplementary structure for support like slate or tile type of roofing.


As asphalt is the end product of petroleum refining, it is readily available. The availability, along with affordability, makes asphalt shingles a prime choice for home roofing.


If you are very picky with your choices, asphalt shingles should be your preference. Asphalt roofing comes in myriad options for colors, textures, and sizes that will excellently match your home's structure.

In addition, premium shingles like wood finish and authentic slate finish will help you rank your home among the marvels of modern architecture.

Installation ease

When it comes to installing asphalt shingles, their lightweight property enables them with the ease-of-installation. Further, the experts carry out the process quickly as no secondary structure is required for their installation.


Asphalt shingles go through standard manufacturing processes, and specialists test them upon many aspects. Due to this, these shingles become resistant to extreme weather and temperature shifts.

They offer features like fire resistance, waterproofing, algae protection, U-V rays reflections that maximize the aging process of these shingles.

Ease of repair

Similar to the installation, repairing shingles is a straightforward and fast process. Any certified roofing expert can efficiently improve the damaged shingles. They might only replace the affected spot or shingles with a new one without disturbing the whole roof or nearby area.

Highly integrative

If you have diverse elements on your roofs, like windows, chimneys, or skylight openings, asphalt shingles are your best bet. The experts can cut the shingles into any desirable shape. Moreover, the shingles neatly acquire any element and merge it into the roof structure as a whole.


As the shingles can resist heat and reflect UV rays from the sun back into the environment, they efficiently maintain the temperature within the home. Moreover, they pack the heat inside the house in winters, making them highly efficient in saving energy.


In the past, roofers straightaway dumped the old asphalt shingles into the landfills. But as the world is progressing, so is the roofing industry. Now, shingles can be recycled and reduced to down-products, used for repairing roads.

two roofers work

What are the different types of asphalt roofing?

Asphalt roofing is easily distinguishable from other types of roofing. But did you know that there are various distinctions in shingles themselves? Let's find out.

Based on materials used

Fiberglass shingles

Most commonly used among the two, fiberglass shingles provide high resistance to fire and have less asphalt making them pretty eco-friendly. Expert roofers make these shingles by inculcating fine glass fibers into the mat.

The only drawback is their failure to perform outstandingly well in cold climates.

Organic shingles

These shingles are made from organic matter like cotton, jute, and others, involved in the manufacturing mats. They are widely used to ward off the storms and cold during harsh winters.

Based on the design

3-Tab shingles

Generally, 3-tab shingles are 50% lighter than their laminate counterparts and hence assist in easing the overall installation process. Besides, they impart a flat appearance, with all shingles having the same shape and size. However, the experts don't recommend the shingles as they are weak for withstanding windy and stormy conditions.

Architectural shingles

If you are an architectural enthusiast and want your roofs to stand out among your community, architectural shingles are just for you. These laminated shingles feature a multi-layer dimensional look without having equal cutouts that of 3-tab shingles. Our professionals believe that the shingles provide a more personalized look to your home with noticeable layouts.

Premium shingles

Designer luxury shingles add an excellent visual appeal to your roofs. These have thicker layering to offer your villa, estate, or home an expensive and luxurious look. These shingles mimic the look of natural elements like wood, slates, tiles, and others. If you want a high-end finish and are not worried about the budget, then the luxury shingles are what you should choose.

black roof

How are asphalt roofs installed?

Roofing can be a daunting task for you as working at height can easily cause vertigo and lead to risky predicaments. Though you can install the roof yourself, we highly suggest seeking professional help instead.

Stating that clear and loud, let us dive into the nitty-gritty of asphalt shingles roof installation and try to understand the process by following simple steps.

Here are the basic steps to install shingles on a roof-

Checking the basics

According to Physics, every shingle roof is sloped at a particular angle to serve the purpose of shedding snow melts and rainwater.

The shingles are overlapped, keeping Physics and force of gravity in mind. The definition of 'to shingle' itself is to arrange something in an overlapping manner.

Preparing the deck

It's difficult to do anything right if you fail to consider the deck as the base of your roofs. Therefore, the roof deck should be fastened tightly with the trusses and be dry enough to install shingles properly.

Additionally, it should be free from holes and gaps with a smooth surface for a better and flat finish.

Work from bottom to the top

While laying down the shingles, it is essential to work from the bottom layer up to the top as it is the only correct way.

Making the drip edges

You can install drip edges at the eaves. They offer a neat and clear advantage and protect the deck from hail and rain damage.

Covering with ice dam membrane

Drip edges are not enough to support your eaves in cold climates. The reason being, ice can freeze again at the border and seep into the deck, causing damage to the roof. Therefore, you should consider installing ice protection membranes over the drip edge.

Further, the process is to overhang the membrane by 1/4"-3/4" from the eaves.

Laying asphalt felt underlayment

Asphalt felt is applied on the deck to reinforce your roof with secondary protection. Alternative to asphalt felt one could use synthetic underlayment. These help the shingles with a double layer of waterproofing.

However, the underlayment should overlap the valley membrane flashing by 6" and Ice dam membrane by 4" for overall secondary roof protection.

Note: If you live in an area where there's no need for ice dam membranes due to dry weather, you can install the underlayment by overhanging it from the drip edge by 1/4"-3/4" at the eave. In this case, you need to install the drip edge over the underlayment instead of the usual convention.

Flashing the valleys and covering the vents

Vents and valleys are the places where a leak can penetrate the shingles. Therefore, it becomes imperative to pay extra attention to these areas. In addition, these vents and valleys should be flashed with 28 gauge galvanized metal for imparting corrosion-resistant properties.

In case you have closed valleys, you should flash them at the time of shingle installation.

To successfully flash the vents and valleys, hold the shingle in place by nailing the edges and applying asphalt plastic cement. Then, start from the eave and overlap the shingles by 6". Once done, flash the vents and valley with the shingles. All the flashing should overlap the element present below by 3".

Roofing the roof

Now, when you have successfully created the edges and made them waterproof, it is time to lay the middle of the play-field with shingles. The rule remains the same; you work your way from the bottom up to the top. Install the shingles with the help of plastic cement and nail flashing.

Nailing the final hip and ridge cap

At the top, two shingle joints will have a gap between them. As a result, you can't bend the shingles and make your way to the finish line. Therefore, you will need proper hip and ridge caps for final waterproofing. You should install the ridge cap from outside to the middle. Remember, the last piece will go in the middle of both edges.

black roof

What is asphalt roll roofing?

As the name suggests, asphalt roll roofing is applying asphalt rolls on the deck to serve as a roofing element instead of shingles. You can receive them as ready-to-use asphalt rolls and can directly install them on the roofs.

Each roll is 100 square feet in dimensions with a total weight of around 75 lbs. They are readily available at any hardware shop.

Asphalt rolls offer speedy and cheap roofing options for temporary solutions as they are less durable. However, experts don't suggest them for home installation due to their thin and damage-prone construction. But, you can frequently see them on the roofs of rented spaces, sheds, garages, and others.

How is asphalt roll roofing done?

The installation of asphalt rolls is straightforward and swift as compared to shingles.

Running the strips

Horizontal strips of rolls are installed from the bottom to the top, running parallel along the eaves.

Underlayment overlapping

Just like the asphalt shingle roofing, you have to apply the underlayment of a particular material on the deck. After the application, the rolls will overlap the underlayment for additional support.

Sticking with adhesive

To avoid the puncturing of the rolls, experts don't use the nails on the bottom. Instead, you can apply plastic cement to the roofs to stick them onto the underlayment, and it'll protect the top from lifting.

Nailing the upper edge

After you layer the rolls onto the roof, nail down the upper edge. Finally, the top edge is covered with a single asphalt roll overlapping by 2".

heaten the roof sheet

How to carry out maintenance and repair of asphalt shingles?

Almost everything from natural to artificial requires maintenance for extending its lifespan. Asphalt roofs are no different.

To avoid replacing the roof sooner than expected, we suggest you run regular inspections and save the hefty sum of money spent on installing a new roof. But, of course, you can also take the help of any professionals for the task.

Further, we suggest that you have an expert inspect your roofs at least twice a year.

If you are thinking that having your roof checked with a professional is enough, no, it is not. Just like you wash your car regularly and pay heed to the smallest of abnormalities though you have got the servicing done, the same is true with your roofs.

However, to help you with a formal checklist, let us give you some initial tips for maintenance.

Clean the roof

It is keeping the roof neat that curbs most of the issues in the cradle. To clean your roof correctly, remove the debris from the top and its elements. It includes dusting the shingles, eaves-tough, valleys, vents, flashing, chimneys, and more. You should also remove the shedding leaves from the gutters for proper drainage.

You can carry out most of the cleaning from ground level, but we recommend you hire a professional for 360-degree cleaning of the roof.

Don't allow the green

It's common for trees and shrubs around the roof to root into the shingles, causing significant damage. Don't allow these shrubs to go near your top and cut the vegetation growth on the first sighting. If the vegetation is hard to reach, don't hesitate to call an expert.

Protect the eaves

To protect the drainage and gutters from choking up, you can use wire mesh. It will prevent the eaves from getting degraded over time due to rainwater and debris accumulation. However, you will have to pay heed to clean this wire mesh and remove the debris.

Don't delay roof repairs

In case the professional finds issues with shingles or waterproofing, don't delay the repair. Neglected roof problems can cost you more in the long run and leave you with no options but to replace the complete roof. Standard roof repairs include flashing of the corroded valley, chimney, vents, and more. In addition, experts replace the broken shingles while the displaced shingles are adequately fixed again.

Keep a vigilant eye

Most problems are easily visible, like debris accumulation, missing or cracked shingles, corrosion on vents and valleys, and many more. However, if you find any deformations with your roof, call an expert today.

After all, it is your abode of peace and happiness.

a blue t shirt wear man doing asphalt roofing

How long do asphalt shingles last?

Trust us, when it comes to the age of your roofs, it gets difficult to give you the exact expiry date. It is because the life of the roof and shingles depends on various factors like environment, natural calamities, maintenance, initial fittings, manufacturer, and manufacturing standards. But one can consistently predict the life of shingles, depending upon the average lifespan of different types of asphalt roofing.

3-tab shingles may remain intact for 25 years. Thus, it has the shortest lifespan in shingle roofing.

Architectural and luxury roofs, on the other hand, have approximately 30 years of lifespan. If maintained well, the luxury shingles can serve you up to 50 years till replacement becomes inevitable.

Lastly, roofing rolls can have a life of around 5 to 8 years.

When should you replace the asphalt shingles?

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, not even your roof shingles. And as the roof is the most ignored part of the house, we pay attention when it shows signs like breaks and leaks. Therefore, we highly stress upon you having regular maintenance and repairs. Understandably, sometimes replacements are the only solution to your roofing problems.

So let us help you with the tell signs you should look for before deciding on the roof replacement.

  • Cracked, damaged, or loose shingles.
  • Spots with missing shingles
  • Molding on the roof
  • Water leaking through the roof
  • Dark spots due to moisture

Upon the first sighting of these signs, ensure to take expert guidance. Though repair works can heal most of the issues, sometimes complete replacement can become your last resort.

Also, get a professional inspection done after every hit from intense and windy storms.

At last, you will still have to replace even well-maintained shingles when they cross their average life expectancy.

How much does a new asphalt shingle roof going to cost me?

Shingle roofing cost depends upon various factors like shingle per square-feet rate, your location, labor cost, deck repair, and installation. Therefore, most companies can only provide a rough estimate. For the actual costing according to your project and requirement, we recommend contacting your nearest roofing services.

However, remember, the cost of installing asphalt shingles dramatically depends upon the type of shingles that experts use for your roof. If you are looking for 3-tab or builder-grade architectural shingles, the installation will cost you around $3.5 to $4 per square foot. This price doesn't include the construction of valleys and vents.

With this installation, you receive-

  • Base asphalt shingles and underlayment
  • Ventilation elements
  • Manufacturer's warranty

In case you want your roof to stand out, you should go for high-quality architectural shingles. It will cost you around $4.5 to $5 per square foot for a double-story house.

It includes-

  • Quality architectural shingles.
  • Ventilation elements & fine underlayment
  • Manufacturer's warranty up to 50 years

Luxury asphalt shingles are known for their alluring style and expensive look. The quality of luxury shingles can cost you around $7.5 to $8 per square foot for a double-story house.

The installation includes-

  • Top graded Luxury shingles
  • Almost all roofing components like copper valleys and flashing, ventilation, and more
  • Manufacturer's warranty up to 50 years
damaged asphalt roofing blog

What are the disadvantages of asphalt roofing?

We think it is your right to know the ugly side of everything, even if it has many benefits. So here are the disadvantages of asphalt roofing to help you make a more informed decision for your home and family.

  • Low-slope roofs can't benefit from asphalt shingles as water blockage and damage will be prominent among them.
  • It can't withstand surprisingly extreme weather conditions and high-speed winds.
  • Though recyclable to a high degree, they still leave their marks on the environment as it is a petroleum-based product.
  • Have a significantly less lifespan compared to metal roofing which can last up to 50 to 75 years.

Is asphalt roofing for you?

Asphalt roofing is popular among North Americans for its specific feature of value-for-money. The roof is low cost, still provides a durable construction, and is readily available in various shapes, sizes, and styles.

So if you don't want to invest highly in your home but still want a robust structure for the next 15 to 30 years, an asphalt roof is the best option you have.

However, if you have decided on building your home for the future and beyond, we suggest you look out for more options.

In any case, you can always contact one of your local roofing experts to assist you in choosing an appropriate roofing type.

a beautiful house roof

What are the alternatives to asphalt roofing?

Now that you are looking for alternatives to shingles, our best suggestion would be metal roofing.

Metal roofs are constructed from highly durable metals like zinc and copper or are manufactured with steel alloys. Though a bit costly, this roof comes with the alluring warranties of around 50 years, subject to the manufacturer's and roofing contractors' considerations.

But of course, metal roofs provide an impenetrable layer of protection and require zero to very little maintenance.

Can you install a metal roof over asphalt shingles?

Do you have an asphalt shingle roof in place but still want to install metal roofing over it for extra protection? Is it possible and legal? The answer to your question is yes; you can install a separate metal roof over the asphalt shingle roofs.

The only condition is that before doing so, you will have to check with the local authority. For example, some may permit you to install a metal roof over one layer of asphalt roofing, while others can extend it to two layers. Moreover, many states don't have any such compliances.

When you look at the 2018 International Building Code (International Code Council Series), 1st Edition states, Section 1511.3.1, you will read that, "The installation of a new roof covering over an existing roof covering shall be permitted where any of the following conditions occur…2. Complete and separate roofing systems, such as standing-seam metal roof panel systems, that are designed to transmit the roof loads directly to the building's structural system and that do not rely on existing roofs and roof coverings for support, shall not require the removal of existing roof coverings."

But before cementing your decision, let us provide you with the advantages and disadvantages of metal roofing.

asphalt roofing service with drill

Advantages and disadvantages of installing metal over asphalt shingles

As mentioned metal roof consists of various metals, so the advantages and disadvantages will resemble the properties of the concerned metals.

General advantages of metal roofing

  • Homeowners highly praise them for their longevity.
  • Metal roofs can easily withstand harsh weather conditions like rain, hail, and wind gusts, approximately up to 140 miles.
  • Many metal roofs also have the capability of resisting fire and hail storms with minimal to no damage.
  • They are highly energy-efficient and can reflect the sun's heat effectively back to the environment.
  • Aesthetically, metal roofs come in an extensive range of colors and finishes.

Benefits of installing metal roofs on asphalt shingles

  • As evident, shingles reinforce the metal roofs with an extra layer of protection and coverage to help you further insulate the home from changing weather effects.
  • If you are considering alternatives to shingles, you would not want to spend extra on the labor costs of removing them from the roof. Metal roofs help you in the cause and also reduces your carbon footprints.

Disadvantages of installing metal roofing

No roof comes without some cons, not even the durable metal roofs.

  • If you are looking for affordable options, metal roofs will go straight to your reject list. Their durability and balance make them more expensive than shingles.
  • Metal roofs are noisy during rain and hail showers. Therefore, you may need to spend extra on the soundproofing of these roofs.

Final words

Asphalt shingle roofing has been the most popular roofing type in the whole of North America due to its durability and low cost. But asphalt roofing has pros and cons; therefore, it is essential to contact the nearest roofing service to determine which type of roof will suit you the best. These services will suggest the appropriate roofing to choose from depending upon your location, preferences, and home's architecture.

After all, it is your home, and you own the rights and responsibility to choose the best roofs for it.

asphalt roofing service with yellow drill
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Jennifer Gard

Jennifer Gard is a content writer at Roofing Tops. She loves writing and educating people about different things. Engineering things, specially. She has a major in civil engineering. Therefore, be assured! All your roofing queries are in expert hands. You can read more blogs and articles written by her on our blog.