• Northlake Roofing Company

All About Asphalt Roofs

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

If you close your eyes and picture the roof of a house, chances are high that you’re thinking about asphalt shingles.

Asphalt roofs are varied, versatile, and popular. They’re the number-one choice for homeowners today.

In this post, we’ll cover the history of asphalt roofing and explore why these shingles are so widely used today. Read on for more about the different types of asphalt roofing available, and the benefits that might make asphalt a perfect choice for your roof.



History of Asphalt Roofing


Before the twentieth century, American roofs were made from local materials and wood. They were often time-consuming to construct, and they burned easily—making house fires worse.


Things changed in the year 1893, when roll roofing was first marketed in the U.S. This type of asphalt roofing is manufactured and packaged in rolls that are ready to apply, cutting down on the costs and difficulty of roof installation.


A decade later, the standard asphalt shingle was invented by Henry Reynolds of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It gained increasing popularity as a fire-resistant alternative to wooden roofing. 11 million squares of asphalt shingles were being produced by 1939.


Throughout the next century of roofing, innovation bloomed: the first self-sealing asphalt shingle was introduced in 1953, and in the 1970s, multi-layer or laminated shingles became popular. The development of fiberglass-and-asphalt shingles also improved these roofs’ fire ratings.


Today, asphalt roofing is a $12 billion industry, according to Joe Hobson of Asphalt Magazine.


Why are Asphalt Roofs So Popular?


From 1893 to the present, the reason homeowners opt for asphalt roofs remain similar. They’re economical, fire-resistant, and aesthetically pleasing.


Asphalt materials also allow for a lot of variety. Because asphalt shingles comes in different sizes and shapes, they can create a wide range of visual effects, from a historical appearance to a three-dimensional, overlapping style.


Asphalt roofs work well with a wide range of architecture—both older, restored homes and more modern buildings.


In many ways, asphalt shingles have become the industry standard. They’re used on four out of five American homes.


What Are the Different Types of Asphalt Shingles?


Asphalt shingles are available in several different shapes and can include added materials.


One commonly used asphalt shingle is known as the three-tab. These shingles have three regularly spaced asphalt tabs, giving the roof a consistent, repetitive pattern.


The base shingle is elongated and can be made from cellulose or glass fibers. If made from organic material, this shingle is saturated and coated with asphalt, then surfaced with ceramic-coated granules for durability.


An example of three-tab shingles.


Some other popular types of asphalt roofing include:


  • Dimension Shingles. Dimensional shingles (also known as architectural or laminated) consist of two layers of shingle material bonded together, which gives the roof a three-dimensional appearance. This type of asphalt roofing is typically more durable than the three-tab, and often seen as aesthetically pleasing. Some neighborhoods even require dimensional shingles.

  • Interlocking Shingles. As the name implies, these shingles are installed to lock together, often in a T-shape pattern. This style is less frequently used in the U.S., but it’s a good option for windier climates or areas with extreme weather. This is because it’s harder for the wind to get in between or beneath the shingles and rip them away from the roof.

  • Premium Shingles. Luxury asphalt roofing can imitate more expensive materials like slate, tile, and cedar. Heavier than the three-tab, premium shingling often holds up well against extreme weather and storming.


Each of these shingles are available in a range of colors, most commonly shades of black, gray, and brown.



An example of architectural asphalt shingles.


What are the Advantages of Asphalt Roofs?


The benefits of asphalt roofing include its durability, cost-effectiveness and appearance. A typical, well-maintained asphalt roof will last from twenty to thirty years, and higher-quality shingles can last for fifty years or more.


  • Durability: Asphalt roofing resists most types of harsh weather, from persistent sunlight and heat to winter snow and ice. It also has strong wind resistance.

  • Fire resistance: According to Asphalt Magazine, asphalt roofing products are manufactured to comply with international standards for fire resistance, including those of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

  • Versatility: The color range and variety of styles available in the asphalt roofing market is unmatched. From charcoal shingles to imitation red tile, asphalt roofs provide a natural-looking aesthetic to match the specific, unique design of your home.

  • Low maintenance costs: Among roofing types, asphalt roofs are noted for their ease of installation and upkeep. You won’t need to apply ice stops or additional structures to your roof to carry weight. Because asphalt roofs are so common, there are a wide range of established products and procedures that are used to keep asphalt roofing structurally sound and aesthetically appealing.

  • Recyclability: Asphalt shingles are recyclable at the end of their service life, according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association and the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association. Recycling services are available near most major cities, and the scrap from the production process is typically recycled as well; the raw asphalt is typically reused in paving.

  • Energy efficiency: Asphalt roofs can deflect heat, allowing for cooler indoor temperatures and potentially reducing your A/C costs. EnergyStar compliant options are easily available.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Asphalt roofs are less expensive to apply than other materials. Given their durability and long service life, asphalt roofs tend to hold out over time as a good investment.


Overall, asphalt roofs are a very popular option, and many homeowners opt for this material due to its flexibility and convenience. If you’re looking to install an asphalt roof in your home, make sure you reach out to a licensed contractor to do the job right. Contact Northlake Roofing Co. today to get a free estimate for your roof.


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