Most homeowners today are familiar with asphalt shingles. These are by far the most common and widely used type of roofing material in the United States. From the frigid temperatures of the North East to the hot climates of the Southwest, it is not uncommon to see many homes sporting this rather affordable and effective roofing material. This type of roofing comes in many different colors and is a great choice for most homes. So how did it become the standard in American houses?
In early American roofs, it was not uncommon to find roofers laying a type of fabric and coat the fabric with something like pine tar. This was way before shingles, of course, around the 1800s. Around this time there was a method that involved heavy paper covered with pine tar and sprinkled with sand. It was a business in Cincinnati by Samuel M. and Cyrus M. Warren began using this method and switched to coal tar. The advancements in the chemical industry improved coal tar from a cheaper byproduct to one that suddenly seemed like a much more useful material. The growth of the petroleum industry created an abundant source of asphalt.
The Asphalt Shingle
Asphalt is a petroleum byproduct and there is evidence that the material has been used as early as the fifth millennium B.C. and possibly even in ancient Egypt. Before the asphalt shingle, one popular roofing material was wood. At the turn of the twentieth century, a roofing contractor named Henry Reynolds was credited with the invention of the roofing shingle. He began cutting the asphalt-saturated rolls into small uniform pieces or ‘shingles.’ Many of the first shingles were cut by hand, but it wasn’t long until these were cut by machinery. These machines were perfected to use a roller-die to cut individual shingles.
For many years, however, the shape and size of the shingles went through some changes and shifts. It took a few decades for the industry to move from various types of materials including cotton used as the felt to celluloid-based felt to fiberglass. Today, the shingles consist of a fiberglass base mat coated in composition asphalt materials. This provides it with additional strength and waterproofing properties.
There are several reasons why shingles are quite popular across the board. One of those reasons is the fact that roofing shingles are extremely fire resistant. And in the early 20th century, this allowed for insurance companies to declare the asphalt shingle as far more ‘insurable,’ which in turn led a lot of people to use the material for lower premiums.
For the most part, there are three types of shingles common in the industry. These include:
- Organic: These are made from recycled felt paper that is soaked in asphalt.
- Fiberglass: These have multiple layers consisting of a bottom layer of a fiberglass base, a second layer of asphalt, and a layer of ceramic bits
There are also a couple of different styles including:
- Dimensional shingles or also known as architectural or laminate shingles
- 3 tab asphalt shingles, which are thinner have an organic mat paper base and wear out more quickly than fiberglass or architectural shingles
In a nutshell, asphalt shingles are composed of the following:
- Base material (fiberglass felt) to provide strength.
- Coating asphalt
- Mineral filler
- Surfacing material, generally mineral granules to provide resistance to impact
What else to know about asphalt shingles?
Not only is the roofing material widely used, but it is quite affordable and has a long shelf life. In most conditions, a well-installed and quality asphalt roof will give you a good twenty years of life. This material is reliable, aesthetically pleasing, and their affordability. Here are some other fun facts about this great material:
- Asphalt shingles comprise about 80% of roofs in America
- Many shingles can mimic the look of authentic wood shakes or natural slate and come in a wide array of styles and colors for enhanced curb appeal
- This great material can last up to 30 years of properly maintained, checked, and repaired when needed
- Asphalt is a petroleum byproduct and thus is tied with the history of petroleum history
Looking for a Roof Replacement? Trust the Quality Asphalt Shingle
We have been installing quality asphalt shingles for many years here at AAAA Contractors. We know the importance of the installation of the overall lifespan of the roof. So whether you are looking to have an entire roof replacement or looking for quality repairs on your existing asphalt roof, trust a professional that understands the composition and structure of a sound roof. Questions about your roof? Call us today.