Tracking Down Roofing Issues

Asphalt Shingles: How They're Made

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the country because they are very affordable, easy to install, available in a wide variety of color options, and most importantly, a great value for the price. Because most asphalt shingles last between 15 and 30 years, you'll be getting a product with an affordable cost that won't need to be replaced for decades. This is the reason that so many home roofers across America choose asphalt shingles as their preferred roofing material. Part of what makes asphalt shingles so affordable is that they are made from cheap and readily available materials. Here is what you need to know.


The process of making asphalt shingles begins with a base material that is then covered by an asphalt and granule mixture. There are two popular shingle base materials: fiberglass and organic material. Fiberglass shingles are made of a mat of chopped glass filaments that are mixed with water to form a fiberglass pulp. This results in a mat of dense fibers. The mat of fibers is then bonded together with a urea-formaldehyde resin for final durability and strength

Shingles with an organic base material, on the other hand, are made of a felt mat composed of organic materials like cellulose fibers, wood, or recycled paper. These raw materials are then reduced to a water-based pulp, formed into large sheets, dried, and then cut into shingles.  


Once the base product is formed, both the fiberglass and organic mats are coated with asphalt, a hydrocarbon made from the byproducts of oil refining. To be used in shingles, asphalt must first go through an oxidization process. This is done by bubbling air through asphalt that has been mixed with catalyst materials and then heated. When the asphalt cools, this mixture of air bubbles and the catalyst materials, heated to the appropriate temperatures, will have formed a product that's the ideal consistency and durability for long-lasting roofing shingles.  


During the processing of the asphalt, colorful mineral or ceramic granules are mixed into the asphalt. It's these granules that give the shingles their unique texture and colors. But the granules also have another purpose; they're designed to reflect the sun's rays. This increases the insulating properties of the shingles, a feature that helps keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. These insulating properties combined with the affordable price of installation (between $6500 to $9000 for the average American ranch style house) are two major reasons why asphalt shingles have been the first choice of roofers all over the country for many decades.