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Roof Replacement

What is an Asphalt Shingle Roof?

November , 2023 | 9 min. read

By Mitch Owens

Birds eye view of an asphalt shingle roof replacement in progress

Looking to find an affordable and reliable roofing material for your home? Consider the popular choice: an asphalt shingle roof. These roofs dominate the roofing scene across the entire United States. But what exactly is an asphalt shingle roof?

For over 30 years, RoofCrafters has been a trusted name regarding asphalt roof repairs and replacements. Now, we're eager to share our three decades of roofing wisdom about installing asphalt shingle roofs with you! Our goal is to provide you with the best information, empowering you to make informed decisions for your upcoming roof replacement.

This article is your go-to guide to understanding what an asphalt shingle roof is. First, we'll delve into the four distinct types of asphalt shingles available. After, we'll outline the advantages and drawbacks of using asphalt shingles. By the end of this article, you should be well-equipped to determine if an asphalt shingle roof is the right choice for your home. Let’s dive in and explore the world of asphalt shingle roofing!

What is an Asphalt Shingle Roof?


The standard asphalt shingle is rectangular and commonly available with one or three tabs, featuring a square butt strip. These shingles are constructed with a base mat and a fiberglass layer coated with waterproofing asphalt. Additionally, they are topped with ceramic-coated granules that provide color and fire resistance, protecting the asphalt from the sun's UV rays.

Asphalt shingles are the most widely used roofing material on houses today. They are installed in around 4 out of 5 new homes built in the US.

An asphalt roof system is mainly composed of asphalt shingles, alongside various other roofing components, including metal eave drip, underlayment, pipe boots, flashing, ventilation, and nails. These elements are all essential in creating a complete asphalt shingle roof system.

There are four distinct types of asphalt shingles to choose from:

  • 3-tab Shingles
  • Architectural Shingles
  • Upgraded architectural Shingles
  • Designer Shingles

Gable style home with a 3 tab asphalt shingle roof

3-tab shingles lay flat and have 3 cutouts in a strip that create a 3-tab look. You'll see this option commonly on residential homes in neighborhoods. 

Check out the 3-tab color options here.

Hip roof with architectural asphalt shingles with valleys

Architectural shingles are sometimes referred to as dimensional shingles because they provide a three-dimensional look. They were designed to provide the look of a real wood shake roof.

Check out the architectural color options here.

Upgraded shingles on a medium difficulty home with slightly complex valleys

Upgraded architectural shingles' major difference from the regular option is curb appeal. Side by side with its little brother, there's no comparison! This shingle is heavier in weight, which makes it a thicker, giving your roof added definition. The extra definition boosts your home's aesthetic, making it pop.

Check out the upgraded architectural color options here.

Simple designer shingle home

Designer shingles are often referred to as luxury shingles. They are specifically designed to add tremendous value, creating massive curb appeal!

Check out the designer shingle styles and color options here.

Keep in mind that this is just a short summary of asphalt shingles.  There's a lot more to know! To get a more in-depth breakdown, check out our article about the four different shingle types

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3 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing an Asphalt Shingle 


There's a few things to think about before you ultimately choose the right asphalt shingle for you. Some elements you should ponder are:


Budget: Asphalt shingles are the most affordable roofing option. Their material cost and easy installation, along with the availability of four different shingle grades, make them a wallet-friendly choice for homeowners.

Lifespan: The expected lifespan for different asphalt shingles is as follows:

  • 3-tab Shingles: 12 to 15 years

  • Architectural Shingles: 18 to 23 years  

  • Upgraded Architectural Shingles: 25 to 30 years

  •  Designer Shingles: 27 to 35 years  

Roof Maintenance: Regular maintenance can extend the life of asphalt shingle roofs. Conducting inspections once or twice a year can also help prevent premature roof failure. Simple tasks such as cleaning leaves and branches goes a long way!

Regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of asphalt shingle roofs. Conducting roof maintenance once or twice a year can prevent premature roof failure. Simple tasks such as clearing leaves and debris off the roof, checking pipe penetrations and flashings, and ensuring proper sealing can prevent common roof leaks and enhance the longevity of the asphalt shingles.
- Designer asphalt shingles: 30 to 40 years

All shingles come with manufacturer material warranties. The given lifespans are based on real observations within the 30 years of our roofing experience.



The Pros and Cons of an Asphalt Shingles


Everything you can think of has potential benefits and drawbacks. Asphalt shingles are no different, and we want you to have the education needed to make the perfect choice for you!

The Pros of an Asphalt Shingle Roof:

  • Weather-resistant, Fire-resistant, and Wind-resistant:  Asphalt shingles are proven to resist sunlight, heat, cold, water, and ice. They also comply with fire and wind standards.

  • Economical, Easy to Install, and Low Maintenance:  These shingles are produced at a high volume, which reduces the cost compared to other roofing materials.

  • Aesthetics and Style Options: So many colors to choose from!

The Cons of an Asphalt Shingle Roof:

  • Longevity: Being the most economical, they have a lower lifespan than other products like metal, slate, or clay tiles, (which means they will need to be replaced more often.)

  • Protection and Durability: Asphalt shingles also have a lower wind rating than metal, slate, or clay tiles, making them more likely to get blown off during a major wind storm. 

The Asphalt Shingle Color Guide

Asphalt shingles also have a lower wind rating than metal, slate, or clay tiles roofing materials, making them more likely to get blown off during a major wind storm. (hurricane, tornado, strong thunderstorm) You'veYou've officially made it to the end! Now that you learned what an asphalt shingle roof is, the types to pick from, and their pros and cons, you're equipped with all the tools you need to make a decision. All you have to do next is take the steps to finding a roofing professional near you that will take it from here!

Ready to Choose the Best Asphalt Shingle for Your Roof Replacement?


It's possible! Before you delve right in, we'd also recommend that you check out "What is a Lifetime Warranty for a Shingle Roof?" to help you learn about the warranties that are available to protect your upcoming roof investment.

RoofCrafters wants to be a part of helping educate you and all the communities we serve! This ensures that you feel confident along every step of the way for your roof replacement journey. Feel free to visit our learning center to get the answers you need before scheduling your roof inspection for your upcoming roof repair or replacement project. Drop us a line when you're ready, and one of our friendly representatives will get back to you quickly. 

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Mitch Owens

My name is Mitch, and I have over 10 years of roofing experience. I enjoy my career in the service industry because I love helping others take care of their homes and businesses. With over 10 years in the roofing industry, my success comes from my honesty and integrity during my roof inspections. I do my best to listen to the needs of my clients and strive to provide an awesome client experience.