Learn the Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingle Roofing

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Reviewed by Ami Feller
Updated April 15, 2022
blue ranch style home with asphalt shingles
Photo: Ursula Page/ Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing.

  • They come in three types: 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury.

  • Pros include low cost, ease of installation, and long lifespan.

  • Cons include high maintenance and not environmentally friendly.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Your home is your castle, and your roof keeps your castle dry. No one likes a wet castle, after all. As a result, it's important to put some thought into your roofing.

Asphalt shingles are probably the first thing that comes to mind. They're certainly the dominant type of roofing in the United States. But there are other options out there, so how do you know if asphalt is the right choice for your roof?

This guide breaks down the pros and cons of asphalt roofing so you can make an informed decision.

What Is Asphalt Shingle Roofing?

Asphalt shingle roofing is a roofing material that uses shingles made from a material called asphalt, which is a semi-solid form of petroleum that helps to waterproof the roof. There are three main types of asphalt shingles: 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury.

3-Tab

This type of asphalt shingle is so named because it has three tabs, which are cutouts along the lower edge of the shingles. This is the most popular type of asphalt shingles on the market.

Dimensional

Dimensional shingles, also called laminate or architectural shingles, are often in a random pattern, or they may attempt to imitate the look of a wood shake roof. They are not as common as 3-tabs, but are growing in popularity in some areas of the country. Dimensional shingles have a high wind rating and are generally considered to be the best value.

Luxury

Luxury shingles, also known as premium or designer shingles, tend to be significantly larger than standard asphalt shingles. They are often meant to imitate the appearance of slate. These can be expensive—sometimes double the price of 3-tabs.

What Are the Pros of Asphalt Shingle Roofing?

home with asphalt shingles  roof
Photo: dbvirago/ Adobe Stock

Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular types of roofing out there. Homebuilders like it for four main reasons: ease of installation, low cost, long life span, and color and style selection.

Ease of Installation

Asphalt shingles are the easiest of all roofing materials to be installed and offer flexibility during the installation process.

Low Cost

Asphalt is not only a less expensive material to make shingles out of, it also costs less from a labor standpoint to install asphalt shingles because they are so easy to install. As a result, it’s arguably the most economical option out there.

Long Life Span

Another great feature when it comes to asphalt shingles is how long they last. They can last anywhere from 15 to 50 years, with thicker shingles tending to reach the later end of that spectrum. As a result, you can get warranties that last for decades for higher-grade materials.

Color and Style Selection

There are virtually unlimited color and style options when it comes to asphalt shingles. As a result, it’s a great choice for homeowners who want to customize the look of their roofs.

What Are the Cons of Asphalt Shingle Roofing?

That said, there are some downsides to asphalt shingle roofing you should consider before making a decision.

Requires Periodic Maintenance

While it’s easy to install asphalt shingles, roof maintenance can be quite extensive as they need to be inspected often and frequently repaired. You need to check them regularly for moss and algae, and to make sure severe weather hasn’t damaged them.

“I recommend having a roofer inspect your roof every 3 to 5 years to check the roof and do routine maintenance,” says Ami Feller, Expert Review Board member and owner of Roofer Chicks in New Braunfels, Texas. “If you have a lot of vegetation near your roof, you may need to have it checked or cleaned more often.”

Low Insulation Value

Some roofing materials do a great job of insulation, which saves money on your energy bill. However, asphalt shingles aren’t one of those materials, so if that’s important to you, you may want to consider other options.

Environmental Impact

While some manufacturers are more environmentally friendly than others, shingles are made from petroleum and fiberglass, so they’re not the greenest option out there. Petroleum is a fossil fuel that, when combusted, releases greenhouse gasses into the environment. Also, the production of fiberglass releases toxic air pollutants like styrene into the air.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.