You’ve probably looked at them more than once today. They’re all around, in the background, every time you leave or return home and are very likely protecting your house, not to mention you, from the elements right now.
Asphalt shingles are the grunt worker of a home’s exterior. Reliable, steady, on the job for 20 years or more—they rarely get the attention that siding or windows are given.
But, what are they exactly? How are they made?
Since these are one of the basic products that we work with—and which you may one day need to purchase in bulk for your roof—we thought we’d give you a basic introduction to the good ‘ole asphalt roofing shingle.
And remember, if you need any kind of work on the exterior of your house done in the greater New Castle, Delaware, area—including the Philadelphia metro area—please keep Iconic Roofing & Exteriors in mind.
The first step in the long life of a shingle is making the base mat, which is the canvas upon which a textured surface will be applied. Made of either organic cellulose or some kind of composite fiberglass, it first comes in huge rolls the size of a small car.
The next step is coating both sides with a liquefied asphalt mixture that has finely milled limestone as a core ingredient. Seeping into the base mat, this will add waterproofing, durability, and the tensile strength necessary to hold the nails or staples used to attach shingles to the roof. This is a hot, nasty process; the coating is heated to upwards of 400F.
Before the coating dries, mined-rock granules with a ceramic coating are added to what will be the exterior side of the shingle. This is also when shingles get their color, as the granules are dyed as part of the coating process. They (along with a fine coat of sand that is also part of the process) not only make shingles more durable and able to withstand the weather—including thousands of hours of sunlight each year—but also add important fire retardation properties to your roofline. An added bonus is that when these particles start to fall away, it’s a sign that it’s time to replace the shingles.
Finally, cutters chop the huge rolls down to manageable size, the bundles of shingles that roofers haul up onto a roof when doing an installation.
Here’s a quick video[p1] that captures the manufacturing process.
Roofing shingles come in a range of styles and grades. The factors important to quality include the level of saturation of the coating, its inherent quality, the particulars of the coating and granule application process, and the overall thickness. Denser shingles are going to last longer, but they weigh more and the structural elements supporting the roof have to be able to support that weight.
There are basically three grades of shingles. The basic “3-tab” shingle is the most common and what most houses in the United States have atop them. Architectural-grade shingles, also known as dimensional shingles, have two quality options. These not only come with longer warranties but also a wider range of shapes and textures.
Remember, Iconic Roofing & Exteriors is ready to handle any roofing needs you may have in Delaware, including helping you choose what shingle is best for your home.