Maybe it’s the low price—asphalt can be obtained at anywhere from $3.50 to $6 per square foot. Maybe it’s the look—asphalt roofing puts on a rough, rugged show in a variety of colors. Or perhaps, because people are pack animals by nature, we’re all just going with the flow—almost 80% of the homes you see in America have this kind of roof. Finally, it could be plain old, warm and fuzzy tradition—asphalt shingles are an American invention, born in Michigan in 1903.
These are but a few possibilities to explain why, exactly, so many homeowners bet their money on this material for their roof. We shall now attempt to extend the list, while at the same time overturn a few rocks that rest along the banks of the more obvious reasons. By the end, we should walk away with a much clearer picture.
What Makes Asphalt So Special?
As mentioned, a lot of homeowners go directly to asphalt because of its price (expect to pay about $8,000 on a new roof for a typical home; this price includes removal of your old roof), which is indeed the lowest in the industry. But did you know that asphalt doesn’t even need to look like asphalt? Architectural shingles are thicker, stronger, and can be cut to mimic the rustic presentation of wood shakes or other, more expensive choices.
Asphalt is also much stronger today than it was when we were kids. Put it this way: When I was eight—that’s 1979 for all who may be wondering—we moved into a house with a brand new asphalt roof; by the time I started junior high, that roof was leaking (though to be fair, only when it rained). The asphalt roofing systems of my day were advertised to last about twenty years. That’s honestly not so great when you compare it to more expensive systems like slate or clay, which can promise a full lifetime of service. But just like me, asphalt manufacturing continues to age; unlike me, it just keeps getting better and better. A modern asphalt roof installed by a skilled contractor has a lifespan of about 50 years. And the price is still right. And the look? Classic American.
Susceptibility to High Wind
Another issue with asphalt which many contractors feel can finally be put to rest is its susceptibility to high winds. Used to be, a gust of 50mph carried serious potential for doing damage to asphalt roofing. Today your new roof can be certified to withstand gusts three times that strong for up to three seconds. However, it is wiser to have asphalt installed in the summertime, when the sun’s rays can do a better job heating the sealant strips on the back of each shingle, allowing them to bond to each other more firmly.
And speaking of installation, asphalt is quite likely the easiest of all roofing systems to install. In fact, most contractors can have a whole new roof completed in a single day. Damaged shingles are also a breeze to tear off and replace—if you can find them. Sometimes they can be hard to spot, especially when the sealant has given way but the shingle itself is still lying flat against the rest of the roof.
Finally, asphalt roofing’s popularity may simply be due to the popularity itself. In other words, when most Americans think of a roof, their mind immediately leaps to a picture of asphalt. From this, they will engage in pursuit without even considering other options. That’s how common asphalt roofing has become—it leads by default.
The above information would certainly go to prove that asphalt shingles are an excellent choice for the protection of your home. You’ll get years of fetching service at an unbeatable price. And really, that’s the main thing for just about any product on the market: economical functionality. It all comes in a tidy little bundle when you choose asphalt for your next roof.