While there are different roofing options available today, asphalt roofs are the most commonly used of the various options. Asphalt roofs are highly versatile and affordable, hence why they are adopted by most homeowners today.
In the early 20th century, they were introduced as a replacement and improvement for wooden roofs, which were not as fire-resistant.
Asphalt roofs are roof systems made using asphalt shingles. They are made up of three layers which are:
- The base material which is made of either fiberglass or organic material such as cellulose fibers from wood;
- A waterproof layer made of oxidized asphalt bonded to the base layer that serves as an adhesive and
- Ceramic granules are embedded into the top asphalt layer to protect the other layers from damage from the sun’s rays and give the shingle its unique look and texture.
- Types of Asphalt roofs
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Asphalt roofs
- Installation and Maintenance of Asphalt roofs
Types of Asphalt Roofs
There are three main designs asphalt shingles used in asphalt roofs are produced in. They are 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury.
3-tab Asphalt Roof
3-tab asphalt roofs are also known as strip shingle roofs. They have remained prevalent because of their relatively cheaper costs and their simple patterned appearance. They look like three different pieces installed, but only one piece of material is cut. They can last for as long as 25 years.
Before the development of dimensional roof shingles, 3-tab were the predominant asphalt roof shingle, and they are still very popular. If you decide to opt for an asphalt roof and wish to cut costs, then 3-tab roof shingles are a perfect choice. A square footing of 3-tab asphalt shingle costs about $1.
Dimensional Asphalt Roof
Dimensional asphalt shingles are also called architectural shingles or laminated shingles. They are produced to be thicker than 3-tab shingles and can be designed to simulate the look of a cedar shake roof. Since they contain extra asphalt layers to increase their rigidity, they are more robust and durable.
They are the most popular roofs on homes today, especially in modern homes. Dimensional asphalt shingles are more appealing but cost more than 3-tab shingles. With proper installation and maintenance, they can last as much as 30 years. You should be a3-aware that due to the extra layer, they are heavier than 3-tab roof shingles.
Luxury Asphalt Roof
Just like their name, luxury asphalt roofs are a premium roofing option. Asides from being called luxury asphalt roofs, they are also called designer or premium asphalt roofs. They can be manufactured to imitate wood shakes or slate roofs. They are thicker and can withstand more adverse conditions than the other two types of asphalt roofs.
Luxury roofs are available in many color options and provide a distinct appearance. They are more expensive than 3-tab shingle and dimensional asphalt roofs but are usually more durable. They provide a more affordable option to those seeking a top-quality shelter than other roofing options, such as cedar shake roofs or metal roofs. They cost about $6-$8 per square foot, and their lifespan can be as high as 50 years.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Asphalt roofs
For several reasons, asphalt roofs are popular in homes today. However, they have their demerits. A more explicit description of the advantages and disadvantages will guide you in arriving at the right choice of roof for you.
Based on the performance of asphalt roofs in service, there are several reasons why asphalt roofs remain the leading choice for homes today. The advantages include the following:
Perhaps, the biggest reason why asphalt roofs are widely adopted today is due to their affordability. They can be mass-produced with relatively little energy, thus resulting in lesser costs than any other roofing material option. The installation cost is also not as high as the other types of roofs.
Asphalt roofs also provide a significant savings option on the cost involved in maintenance compared to cedar shake roofs.
Asphalt roofs are available in diverse options and different styles. There is an asphalt roof out there for everybody, regardless of your pocket or type. Ranging from the more affordable 3-tab asphalt shingle to the luxury option, which provides the premium roof, there are various styles available.
Additionally, there are both the natural-based material option and the fiberglass material. Asphalt roofs are available in different hues and colors and can be obtained virtually anywhere due to their mass production and broad adoption. Color options range from various shades of grey to deeper colors and primary color options.
Especially with the fiberglass options, asphalt roofs are less flammable than wooden shingles and cedar shake roofs. The fiberglass base materials can withstand extreme fire conditions, unlike natural ones, and this fire resistance can be significant in regions susceptible to occasional wildfires. They are class A fire-resistant, meaning they can withstand fire outbreaks for up to 2 hours.
While asphalt roofs may not last as long as their other counterparts, asphalt roofs are very resilient in their service life. Asphalt roofs can resist extreme winds and climatic conditions while retaining their attractive appearance. The ceramic granules help it avoid discoloration due to ultraviolet light rays from the sun. Also, algae and moss growth that taint other roofs do not significantly impact them.
Due to their flexibility and strength, asphalt roofs do not require thicker sections to provide more stability. This lightweight enables the entire roof to be light, thus reducing the load transmitted to the building. This can be a potentially massive cost-saving for large projects that require expansive roof systems.
Easy installation and maintenance
Asphalt roofs are the most straightforward roofs to install, and this ease of installation reduces the effort required and the time involved in their installation. This makes them a good option for emergencies that need quick roofing. If they are correctly installed, over their lifespan, asphalt roofs require little or no maintenance at all. They can likewise be easily repaired or replaced in case of any damage.
Although asphalt roofs are widely used today, some disadvantages are inherent in their use. These disadvantages include:
Asphalt roofs are not the best option when longevity is a significant factor been considered. This is because they last for about 30-35 years compared to their counterparts, especially metallic roofs, which can last twice as long. Due to this shorter lifespan, they may not be the option for personal housing projects that will be around for a long time.
By their nature, asphalt roofs are not largely environmentally friendly. After their lifespan of about 20-35 years, this roofing material contributes yearly to waste found in landfills. While asphaltic materials used as binders in road construction can be reused and recycled for hot mix asphalt concrete, cold asphalt patching, and as a fuel in cement kilns, asphalt shingles are used in roofing are rarely recycled.
This is because they are produced from petroleum-based contain long-chain aromatic organic compounds that are not easily broken down by the human body thus, posing a carcinogenic risk to workers in recycling plants.
Asphalt roofs are not suitable for all types of buildings, particularly those requiring flat roofs because of their lightweight, which could also be an advantage. On flat buildings, since there are no structures to reduce the effect of winds or serve as a windbreaker, asphalt shingles can be more vulnerable to strong winds causing them to detach, thus making the roof more susceptible to damage from leaks and moisture.
When it comes to energy efficiency, asphalt roofs are not the go-to. Compared to other roofing options, asphalt roofs do not thermo-regulate effectively during the summer and winter times. You are left dependent on air-conditioning, which increases the amount of energy consumption and thus electricity bills. If you are searching for more energy-efficient options, you may want to look at metal and wooden roofing instead.
A big pro of using an asphalt roof is relatively low installation and maintenance costs. While it is also simple and can be completed as a DIY, it is better left to the professionals to avoid any defects that could shorten the roof’s lifespan.
Asphalt roofs are best placed during a reasonably warm period on a sunny day with light winds. It is crucial to get the installation correctly right from the underlayment. Before the underlayment, perimeter edge flashings should be used to protect weak points of the roof. The eaves and gable boards should also be installed while attaching the gutters and ventilation elements.
For the underlayment, it is recommended that a single layer of No. 15 asphalt-saturated underlayment is used with roofs that have slopes of 4:12 (18 degrees) or greater and two layers for roof with gradients between 3:12 (14 degrees) to 4:12 (18 degrees). For heavier asphalt shingles such as luxury asphalt roofs with a longer lifespan, No. 30 underlayment should be used instead.
Ensure the valleys are installed at suitable locations with the proper nails at the correct angle and spacing to reduce the risk of leaks. Apply only the required amount of force when nailing down asphalt shingles to prevent them from being blown off by wind over time.
It is essential to install the starter course correctly to prevent wind from damaging the entire roof with uplift pressure that can rip apart the shingles. While some asphalt shingles have glue all over their surface, some others require glue. Shingles are attached to the base with galvanized staples or nails, starting from the eaves. Each row must overlap the previous row so that water doesn’t leak between the seams.
Thermal insulation of the roof is essential as most building codes require proper attic insulation. In installing asphalt roofing, ensure the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and adherence to all manufacturer’s instructions to forestall the risk of injuries.
Maintenance can be as simple as inspection and cleaning, and you should do it every year to extend your roof’s lifespan. Regular roof maintenance helps you get the best performance from your asphalt shingle roof. It will forestall any problems that your asphalt shingles may develop and prevent future leaks before they can be deleterious.
Additionally, periodic maintenance allows you to clear your roof and gutters of any debris. If damages are not quickly detected, asphalt shingle roofs will deteriorate. Water and debris can get into a compromised roof, causing further damage. With the right tools, you can clear off the waste on your roof and in the gutters by yourself, but it is better to consult a professional to avoid damaging your roof.
Roofs can get damaged by climatic conditions such as strong winds, snow, and ultraviolet sun rays. Periodic maintenance quickly ameliorates any slight defect and reduces the chances of damage from the elements. Also, regular maintenance frees the gutters of water so that molds, mosses, and algae do not begin to grow on the roof.
While cleaning your asphalt roof, avoid using a pressure washer, as the water streaming from it can cause the shingles to loosen and dislodge the protective granules on the top surface. Likewise, do not use harsh chemicals to clean the roof. While they can instantly kill algae and mold growing on the roof surface, their remains may flow down to the landscape and affect plants in your garden.
In conclusion, while asphalt roofs may not be the most durable roofing option of the lot, it is an excellent option for persons seeking an economical and effective roofing solution. They are available in a diversity of options to meet your specific desires. They are produced in different designs and colors to be installed right away without any need for painting or modification. With your asphalt roof, you are assured you are receiving maximum value for your money while opting for the roof you desire.
Olaseeni Ogunniyi is a professional technical writer with over 5 years of experience curating content in the engineering niche.
Thanks to his background in Civil Engineering, he has worked as a project manager and a consultant on several roofing projects, from simple hip and gable roofs to more complex combination roofs.
Additionally, he has written several projects on aluminum and metallic roofing sheets and has developed expertise on such topics.