Take a look at any home and chances are, there is a shingle roof on top of it. Shingles are the most popular material for finishing a house due to its ability to withstand weather conditions and insulate a home.They also come in a variety of colors and finishes to suit the homeowner’s preferences. In short, shingle roofing is a multi-purpose material that plays an important role on any home.
The roofing shingle has been around for an untold number of years, going all the way back to the dawn of civilization. Clay tiles were the most commonly used roofing material, but wooden shingles that were treated with waterproofing has been found as well. In the 1840s, the precursor to the modern shingle was developed in the form of a tar or asphalt roll. A single sheet of roofing material was rolled out onto a roof and secured into position. Henry M. Reynolds is credited with the creation of the modern roofing shingle in 1903. He took it upon himself to cut the roll into smaller rectangles for easier application. From his idea, the modern roofing shingle was born and a new industry arose around the creation of individual shingles. The development of the shingle roof owes much to Mr. Reynolds indeed.
Shingle roofing has pros and cons for its use, as with all roofing materials. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but it is always wise to know the ins and outs of an all important material that is going on the roof.
The advantages of shingle roofing are:
- Ease of installation. Very little in the way of special tools and experience are needed to put on a shingle roof. Tar paper is laid down, then the shingles are attached with nails to the roof in an overlapping pattern.
- Durability. Asphalt shingles last for years without needing major work. Repairs are easily made by pulling out a bad shingle and replacing it.
- Relatively inexpensive. The price of a shingle roof is very reasonable due to the low cost of materials.
- Decorative. Shingles can be made to look like other materials, giving the illusion of using stone tile or wood shake without the cost.
- Lightweight. A shingle roof is relatively lightweight, making it suitable for structures that can’t handle the load of heavier materials.
The disadvantages of shingle roofs are:
- Lack of thermal retention. There is little protection and insulation from a shingle roof. The shingles absorb heat during hot weather and draw out heat during colder seasons.
- Susceptible to heat. Asphalt shingles warp and curl in areas that have excessive heat on a regular basis.
- Susceptible to wind and moisture. High winds can easily tear shingles off a roof and excessive moisture creates mildew issues that rot the shingles.
Shingle roofing has a specific application and that is to primarily be used on roofs. It has an advantage over other materials in that it can easily bend and flex to lie in corners and valleys on a roof while still offering coverage. One way to make roofing shingles more interesting is to put an artistic eye to shingle roofing. Make a subtle design out of different shades of shingles. It also makes for great roofing on wooden dog houses and bird houses, providing excellent shelter for animals.
The most common type of roofing shingle that you see is an asphalt coated mat that has some type of grit added to it. The process begins with either fiberglass felt or paper that is run through a vat of melted asphalt. A grit of stone or ceramic is poured onto the shingles as the asphalt cools. The resulting texture creates a waterproof and moss-resistant surface that withstands most weather conditions for years to come. Shingles are also made from rubber and wood, but fire codes frequently limit their use in some areas.
Asphalt is used as the coating for shingles for its durability and waterproof properties. It is also very flexible even when cured and won’t flake or crack when bent. Asphalt wears slowly under typical weather conditions and typical roof replacement cycles are a minimum of 20 years and longer.
Shingle Roof Maintenance
Maintaining a shingle roof is relatively easy and stress free. Keeping a roof in good shape is a matter of doing a visual inspection from time to time to find any problems and fix them. When you are performing an inspection, look closely for shingles that have been damaged in some way or have lost most of their gravel. Damage itself is easy to spot because it sticks out as being abnormal when lying next to the undamaged ones. If the surface looks OK, move into the attic to view the underside of the decking. Any leaks that aren’t visible topside show up in the decking. Also pay attention to areas around chimneys and roof valleys for damage. Shingle roofing around chimneys creates a seam that has to be sealed and sometimes the seal fails. Roof valleys create a spot for debris to collect, rotting the shingles underneath when the debris is left too long.
Shingles of all varieties have been used in all types of climates, although the asphalt shingle wins out for northern climates. They have a durability that few other materials can match when it comes to protecting a home from the elements. Another aspect of a shingle roof is that the replacement cycle is a minimum of 20 years for a properly maintained roof, sometimes longer. It makes having this type of a roof affordable and practically worry-free.
A shingle roof has poor insulation qualities when used by itself with no other insulation materials. This isn’t too much of a concern for those who live in warmer climates, as venting out internal heat through the roof is preferable. However, a properly installed roof with insulation in northern climates does keep heat in the house itself, reducing the need to turn on the furnace. The same goes for the summer months when it is time for air conditioning.
Properly installing a shingle roof is easy and relatively quick to finish. Roofing starts with the decking laid out on the joists, which is typically plywood boards. Tar paper is rolled out onto the decking as an underlayment for the shingles, adding to the shingles waterproof qualities. The roofer starts at the pinnacle of the roof, nailing down the first layer of shingles. From there, the roofer moves downwards, putting down layer after layer until he reaches the edge. He then finishes the roof by going around all of the chimneys and covering the valleys.
From a decorative angle, the roof on a dwelling is the final piece. You can take advantage of the different types of shingle colors/styles and make the roof an interesting counterpoint to the exterior design of the house. Create an English countryside look with a dark wood design that varies in shade, or brighten up the overall home with a light wood color shingle. The variety of roofing shingles on the market gives you the opportunity to be creative with the house instead of settling for the typical grey roof.