What Is Composition Shingles?

October 10, 2023


In the world of roofing, composition shingles have become increasingly popular due to their affordability, versatility, and durability. If you're considering a new roof or a roof replacement, understanding the composition of shingles will help you make an informed decision.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the basics, types, and installation process of composition shingles, ensuring you have all the knowledge you need before embarking on your roofing project.

I. The Basics of Composition Shingles

A. Definition and Composition

Composition shingles, also known as asphalt shingles, are a type of roofing material commonly used on residential roofs. They are made from a combination of fiberglass or organic mats, asphalt, and mineral granules. This composition contributes to their durability and performance.

B. Advantages of Composition Shingles

  1. Cost-effectiveness: When compared to other roofing materials such as wood, metal, or clay, composition shingles are an affordable option.
  2. Wide Array of Designs: Composition shingles come in various designs, colors, and textures, making it easier to find a style that suits your aesthetic preferences.
  3. Lightweight Construction: The lightweight nature of composition shingles makes them suitable for different roof types, increasing their versatility.
  4. Superior Durability: Composition shingles are known for their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, including strong winds and heavy rainfall.
  5. Ease of Maintenance: Maintaining composition shingles is relatively easy, and they can also contribute to energy efficiency when properly installed.

II. Types of Composition Shingles

A. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of composition shingles found in residential roofs. They are manufactured by bonding together layers of asphalt and granules.

  • Three-Tab Shingles: These shingles are used to dominate the roofing industry. They are flat with three distinct tabs that give your roof a uniform appearance.
  • Architectural Shingles: Also known as dimensional composition shingles, they feature multiple layers and lines, giving your roof more dimension and depth.
  • Luxury Shingles: These high-end shingles mimic the appearance of natural materials like wood, slate, or tile, giving your roof a sophisticated look.

B. Fiberglass Shingles

Fiberglass shingles are another type of composition shingle that uses a fiberglass mat as the base material. They have gained popularity due to their versatility and affordability.

  • Composition and Benefits: Fiberglass shingles are lightweight, fire-resistant, and less likely to warp or curl over time. They are suitable for various weather conditions.
  • Comparison with Organic Shingles: Fiberglass shingles are stronger, lighter, and more fire-resistant than organic shingles, making them a popular choice.

C. Organic Shingles

Organic shingles, on the other hand, use an organic mat as the base material. They are made of felt, recycled paper, or wood fiber soaked in asphalt.

  • Material Composition: Organic shingles are known for their higher asphalt content, which contributes to their durability and resistance to extreme weather conditions.
  • Environmental Impact: While organic shingles offer several advantages, their production process consumes more energy and may have a greater environmental impact than fiberglass shingles.

III. Installation Process and Considerations

A. Pre-installation Factors

Before installing composition shingles, certain factors need to be considered:

  1. Assessing Roof Condition: A thorough roof inspection is necessary to identify any existing damage or repairs that need to be addressed before installation.
  2. Choosing the Right Shingle Type: Consider your region, climate, and desired aesthetics to select the most suitable composition shingle for your unique needs.

B. Steps for Installing Composition Shingles

The installation process involves several key steps:

  1. Removal of Existing Roofing Material: If there is an existing roof, it needs to be removed before installing the new composition shingles.
  2. Underlayment and Flashing Installation: Proper underlayment and flashing are crucial for a good roof foundation and to prevent leaks.
  3. Laying Down and Securing Shingles: The composition shingles should be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions, paying attention to overlapping and nailing patterns.
  4. Addressing Installation Challenges: Special considerations need to be given to valleys, vents, chimneys, or other architectural features on the roof.

C. Hiring a Professional vs. DIY

Deciding whether to hire a professional roofing contractor or undertake the installation as a DIY project depends on several factors:

  1. Pros and Cons of Professional Roofing Contractors: Hiring professionals ensures expertise, timely completion, and warranty coverage, but it comes at an additional cost.
  2. Tips for DIY Installation: If you choose the DIY route, ensure you have sufficient knowledge, expertise, and the necessary safety precautions.

IV. Maintenance and Longevity

A. Regular Maintenance Practices

To maximize the lifespan of composition shingles, certain maintenance practices should be followed:

  1. Regular Roof Inspection: Conduct periodic inspections to identify any signs of damage or wear that require immediate attention.
  2. Gutter Cleaning: Clearing debris from gutters prevents clogging, which can lead to water damage and roof deterioration.
  3. Algae Growth and Granule Loss: Address any issues with algae growth, moss, or granule loss to prevent the degradation of the shingles.

B. Extending the Lifespan of Composition Shingles

To extend the lifespan of your composition shingles, consider the following:

  1. Preserve Appearance and Functionality: Regularly clean and maintain your roof to prevent issues such as algae growth, moss, or granule loss.
  2. Importance of Proper Ventilation and Insulation: Adequate ventilation and insulation help regulate the temperature of the roof, ensuring longevity.
  3. Professional Maintenance and Inspections: Periodic inspections by professionals can uncover hidden issues and provide necessary repairs or maintenance.

How Much Will a Composition Roof Cost? 

The cost of a composition roof can vary depending on several factors. The size and slope of the roof, as well as the specific materials used, can all impact the overall cost.

On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $6,000 and $9,000 for a composition roof installation. However, it is important to note that this is just a general estimate, and prices can vary significantly based on location and individual circumstances. Additionally, the cost may also include other factors, such as removal and disposal of the old roof, as well as any necessary repairs or modifications.

It is recommended to obtain multiple quotes from reputable roofing contractors in order to get a more accurate idea of the cost. Overall, while a composition roof can be a more affordable option compared to other types of roofing materials, it is still a significant investment that should be carefully considered. 

V. Conclusion

Composition shingles are a popular and versatile option for residential roofs, offering an array of benefits such as cost-effectiveness, durability, and ease of maintenance. By understanding the basics, various types, and installation process, you can confidently select the most appropriate composition shingle for your needs. Remember to consider pre-installation factors, choose the right professional or DIY approach, and prioritize regular maintenance to ensure the longevity of your composition shingle roof. With proper care, your composition shingles will provide you with a resilient and aesthetically pleasing roof for years to come.

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