Roof Shingles

Types of Roofing Shingles

Different Types of Roof Shingles Pros & Cons

Shingles on the roof make one’s home look like a picture postcard. It isn’t a big surprise that shingles have retained their popularity as the ideal roofing material for most homeowners over the years. Choosing one’s shingle is the easiest part of the deal. There are a thousand other things that need to be kept in mind if the owner is planning on installing his shingles himself.

It is always best to get some expert professional advise before installation, but most average American home owners prefer to do the work themselves. It is important to realize that working alone on the roof can in some cases prove to be a rather dangerous proposition and it is advisable to get a helping hand.

  • A proper ladder should be used and, if it is metal, it should be kept at a safe distance from electrical wires and other similar items that might be on the roof.
  • Working in cold and wet weather should be strictly avoided and the installer should always wear rubber-soled shoes.
  • Reliable roof brackets should be used for proper support.

If re-roofing is required, it should be done with an eye for detail. Sufficient roofing felt should be used if the roof has to be renovated completely. If the owner is trying to place fresh shingles over three layers of already-existing roof, the three layers should be totally removed to make room for the new shingles. If it is a matter of removing damaged shingles, it should be skillfully done either with a sharp knife or a pry bar. While new felting is done, feather clips may be used for a smooth look. A drip cap may also be placed on the low edge of the roof when re-roofing.

Types of Roofing Shingles


While making one’s choice of shingles, a number of factors have to be considered. The installer should spare a thought for the slope of his roof (the nature of the slope), the weather conditions that his home is usually exposed to, his budget, his choice of color, and the design he wants. Available warranties should be carefully evaluated and it should be found out whether the chosen shingles match the market standards or not.

The shingles should be carefully cut and molded according to the requirements of the roof. User manuals should be followed in case of any difficulty. Laying shingles in roof valleys, roof vents, and chimneys can prove to be a tricky business sometimes. The shingles should be properly measured and placed.

Installing shingles maybe backbreaking work for some, but at the end of it all, it gives immense satisfaction to the homeowner and makes him aware of his physical contribution in making his home picture perfect.

Cedar Shingles

Cedar shingles are by far the most aesthetically appealing shingles available on the market today. Traditionally built out of red cedar from the coniferous forests of northwestern North America, they are the ideal roofing material for house owners who prefer giving their roofs a natural look.

Original cedar shingles are naturally resistant to the elements, which is the primary reason why cedar shingles are used widely across varied climatic conditions. They are mainly available in two distinct qualities. One of them is the shingle made out of red cedar while the other is made out of the white variety. Red cedar shingles are made out of tight-grained particles that are previously saturated with tannic acid which experts say is a natural preservative. Red cedar shingles that are dipped in creosote to prevent corrosion and are preferred by homeowners since they add a rich and charming look to one’s property.


It is important to note that red cedars usually turn black if exposed continuously to coastal weather. Thus, seaside houses should have white cedar shingles. Red cedar shingles are usually much more expensive than the white cedar ones, although the price factor does not diminish its popularity in anyway. They are ideally suited to traditional New England homes while white cedar shingles seem to be picture perfect for bungalows and cottages that have been built in Nantucket style.

Over the years, traditional cedar shingles have lost out in some extent to synthetic shingles that emulate the cedar look. Advanced technologies are used in order to make these shingles have a longer lifespan compared to original cedar shingles. Most come with advanced UV inhibitors and have about five decades of steady warranty. These shingles are usually superb insulators and some advanced ones provide a cooler inside in the summer months and a warmer inside during harsh winters.

Cedar shingles, mostly available in honey, cinnamon, and silvery gray hues, need some amount of maintenance. They require initial treatment before installation. White cedar shingles for example, may be treated with bleaching oil and this should be done every six to seven years to increase their durability.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most commonly sold shingles in the industry, and statistics show that they can be easily termed the most dominant variety on the roofing market. Relatively cheaper than most other types of shingles, (roughly at around $0.80 per square foot) they are vastly used all across the USA and Canada. But, as far as costs of asphalt shingles are concerned, they would generally vary according to geographical location, altitude of a building, and slant of the roof.

Asphalt shingles come in a wide range of colors and designs and most are quite durable. Records say that these shingles can me easily maintained and repaired as well.

asphalt shingles


Broadly available in two basic types like organic and fiberglass, they can be further classified into a number of other types like the basic three-tab shingle, the no cutout shingle, the dimensional shingle, the angle-lap shingle, the interlocking shingle, and others that look like cedar or slate. Organic shingles are mostly used in colder temperatures like in North America and Canada. Fiberglass shingles, on the other hand are popular in warmer temperatures like in the southern and western American states.

Before making one’s choice of asphalt shingles, it is extremely important to know and decide what one will be buying. Proper budgeting, the climates of the place, slope of one’s roof, and other issues have to be carefully considered. The warranty of a particular product should also be reviewed and judged properly. It is always best to buy shingles that meet manufacturing standards perfectly. This may sometimes be heavier on one’s pocketbook, but one should rather be safe than sorry.

Installation of asphalt shingles is fairly hassle-free. Although professional roofing experts should always be consulted, asphalt shingles maybe installed by the house owner himself, even if he isn’t an expert. The shingles can be easily installed on any existing roof.

Asphalt shingles with their easy availability, durability, and fairly simple installation process, are quite naturally the most widely used and economically feasible roofing option for millions.

Fiberglass Shingles

Fiberglass shingles are comparatively new in the roofing industry. Fiberglass shingles are basically a type of asphalt shingle made out of fiberglass mats that prove to be a reasonable alternative to felt mats that have been usually used.

Fiberglass shingles are very light in weight and are available widely with strong tear and fire resistance. They come in a variety of designs and colors and are a viable option both for manufacturers and house owners. As far as a manufacturer is concerned, in manufacturing fiberglass shingles, he can use lesser asphalt compared to organic asphalt shingles. As for the installer, fiberglass shingles can be very easily installed without much professional advice.

Manufacturers provide attractive warranties against hail storms, snow, ice, and foot traffic. Records suggest that fiberglass shingles are a good financial choice for the average American house owner.

However, in spite of such warranties, the installer should be aware of a few typical problems that may arise in case of a fiberglass shingle. Thermal splitting is a very common problem that most users have to deal with. If the manufacturer reduces the asphalt quantity in a shingle to an alarming extent, it may result in the shingle becoming too brittle. Nailing and placement instructions should be carefully followed by the installer to increase the durability of the shingles.

Other than these minor hazards, it may be safely said that fiberglass shingles have become very popular and more and more homeowners are happily opting for this particular roofing alternative.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles were previously seen as roofing material for low-slope houses. Over the years, they have been found out to be a significant roofing alternative for steep-sloped roofs as well. Metal shingles are usually meant to look like traditional asphalt shingles, wood shakes, or tiles, but metal shingles come with a greater guarantee to ward off rough weather. Many consider these shingles to be the strongest roofing material available. Contrary to popular belief, modern technology has made metal shingles very light, and they are a feast for the eyes, and also have very high fire-resistant ratings.

metal roof shingles

These classic shingles give a building a timeless look and often come with permanent color warranties. They can be made out of a wide variety of metals like aluminum, copper, stainless steel, zinc and phosphate coating, and alloys of tin and zinc. The different metals can be suitably chosen by the prospective buyer according to his geographical location and climate.

There are other minor details that a buyer should keep in mind. Stainless steel shingles are said to weigh less than most other traditional roofing material. Metal shingles made with alloys of zinc and aluminum should ideally not be painted. Tin roofs should be painted at an interval of eight years. Zinc and tin alloys are perfect for rough coastal weather. These are the various issues that should be considered before making one’s choice.

There are a number of benefits that the owner can enjoy once he chooses metal shingles as his primary roofing material. They come with excellent resistance guarantee to strong wind, fires, hail and storms, earthquakes, and other such natural calamities. They are also well protected from pests and are extremely anti-corrosive. Most manufacturers offer a fifty-year warranty on their metal shingles.

Metal shingles are mostly recycled and statistics show that they are, in most cases, 100% recyclable. Installation is also relatively simple, but consulting a roofing professional would probably be considered a smart idea.

Solar Shingles

Shingles, generally considered as traditional roofing material, have undergone a lot of change since their earliest use. Solar shingles are perhaps the ideal example in which science and technology have smoothly blended with tradition. They can easily be termed as a path breaking invention in the roofing industry.

Over the years, shingles have been used as roofing material that will protect a building from the elements. But solar shingles that usually look like common asphalt shingles move much beyond providing mere protection. They make the roof a healthy source of electricity. They come in attractive designs and colors and guarantee a low electricity bill for the owner. They are usually available in smaller shapes than most other variety of shingles because manufacturers and owners do not want to give an obvious idea that a gadget has really been installed on the roof. The electric power that is generated is absolutely pollution free, and the durable shingles usually come with fabulous manufacturer warranties.

Solar shingles are undoubtedly expensive, but once installed, they prove to be an amazing investment for the owner since they increase his property value to a great extent.

Usually installed over heavy felt sheeting, solar shingles bond together with sunlight and form a protective sheath on the roof. Electric wires are intrinsically linked with the whole system, but it is important for prospective buyers to realize that there are no risks of electricity leak, shocks, or similar mishaps. The electric wires are beautifully embedded in the system and do not disturb the aesthetic symmetry of a building.

Buyers are of course advised to do sufficient market research before going in for the ultimate investment. Installation is quite hassle-free and manuals are always readily available. Professionals should always be consulted for an attractive and safe finish. It is, after all, a major investment issue for the buyer.

Thatch Roofing Shingles

Traditionally speaking, thatch roofs were the ultimate roofing choice for making one’s home look cozy, ethnic, or even tropical. The making of thatch roofs hails back to prehistoric times when early men had started building their huts and covered them with thatched roofs typically made out of straw, reed, or grass.

Over the years of course, original thatch roofs have lost out in a big way to faux or synthetic thatch shingles that have flooded the market. The idea is to experience the joys of a traditional thatch roofs without the disadvantages that one might have faced while using it in its original form.

Going by recent trends, there are a number of synthetic thatch shingles available, made mostly out polythene fibers that come with a strong U.V. resistant guarantee. These fibers are carefully blended with a thin but tough waterproofing membrane and can protect the owner from the elements quite effectively. Manufacturers provide warranties against color fastness, decay, and rot.

The polythene fibers used to make the shingles are actually tiny plastic particles and a polyurethane-binding strip is used to bond these particles and form a shingle. These can be easily used on any existing roof for a very low installation cost. Although expert professional advice is always welcome, owners can install these thatch shingles themselves without much trouble.

These shingles come in shades of yellow and gold to give a natural straw-look. Brownish-green shades are also available that give the shingle a palm-appearance and reminds one of tropical islands. Outside the United States, thatch shingles have become very popular in South Africa. Thatch shingles like the ones that have a bamboo or eucalyptus lath finish are becoming increasingly popular.

These synthetic shingles can be installed not only on high-slope roofs but also on low-slope ones. With life expectancy of a minimum of fifty years, these shingles create a perfect blend of nostalgia and modernity.


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