No Fault With Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles are the preferred roof covering of choice, not just for their performance but for their designer looks as well.

WASHINGTON, DC November 18 – You might say that asphalt roofing shingles have it all. Not only do they out perform other residential roofing product alternatives, but they look great too, making them the roofing material of choice for most American homes.

While in many parts of the country, more than 70 percent of residential homes use asphalt roofing shingles, the subject is not always a hot topic for discussion, but should be, according to the Washington, DC - based Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA).

ARMA believes consumers should know about their roofing products. That’s why the organization is launching a multi-year communications and advertising campaign to educate consumers and the trade regarding asphalt’s numerous advantages, as well as the many new styles available.

“While composition shingles have traditionally been associated with the economical 3-tab asphalt shingle, at this point our member companies’ high-end architectural shingles account for over 50 percent of asphalt shingles sold,” said Russ Snyder, executive vice president of ARMA. “Whatever budget, architectural style or performance needs, there’s an asphalt roofing product to match, and in our opinion, they have the style and performance attributes to out-perform virtually any material on the market.”

In addition to their performance characteristics, asphalt shingles also have aesthetics that make a real design statement. “When we recommend roofing materials for our high-end clients, we find more and more people are coming back to asphalt shingles,” said Tom Hutchinson, director of moisture protection at Legat Architects, and a member of the American Institute of Architects. “Homeowners can get a variety of designer-style shingles that look like slate or wood, but are actually laminated asphalt singles. In addition, they have superior coloration, texture and design and also will be around a long time for clients to enjoy.”

For example, metal shingle roofing products often make a house feel like an oven on warm days, as the metal reflects attic heat back into the home. Metal panels have far few architectural choices and are typically much less expensive than even the high-end architectural heavy weight asphalt-based shingles. Walkability and water infiltrations can bare serious problems for metal roofs resulting in expensive callbacks and hassles. In addition, metal will dent from hail, is noisy during rainstorms, can corrode easily if not maintained properly, and is subject to paint color fading and cut edges.

Concrete tile is also very heavy, and poses both a safety risk and cost premium because it can be up to 400 percent heavier than the heaviest architectural asphalt singles – needing more reinforcement in the home’s structure to hold the weight and protect against earthquakes or high winds. It is inherently not waterproof – relying on longevity and durability of the underlayment to maintain the building moisture integrity. It has an inconsistent quality, with colorations that are hard to match and works only with limited architectural styles. It also absorbs moisture, provides a place for algae to grow, and has a painted surface which fades over time.

The same holds true for natural slate and wood roofing materials. Slate is generally very heavy, and is difficult to replace. It requires a longer lead-time for ordering, and a specialized installation process. Finally, wood roofing materials have historically had poor fire resistance and a limited variety of colors. They are susceptible to infestations, have higher installation costs, lack viable warranties, and insurance companies require higher rates because of their vulnerability to fire.

“Of course, as manufacturers of premium roofing products, we have a natural bias toward our own roofing systems, but, we wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about architectural asphalt shingles if we didn’t believe in them so strongly,” said William Collins, president and CEO, GAF. “Today we can be proud of the superior aesthetics, broad diversity of applications and cost effectiveness that asphalt shingles deliver. You can’t beat the aesthetics, price, performance or durability that they provide.”

For more information on the benefits of asphalt roofing materials and the variety of ARMA members’ products and applications visit the ARMA website at

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) is the North American trade association that represents the majority of the asphalt roofing industry’s manufacturing companies and their raw material suppliers. Together these companies produce a variety of bituminous-based residential and commercial roofing systems, including asphalt shingles, roll roofing, built-up roofing systems, and modified bitumen-roofing systems. ARMA is committed to serving the asphalt-roofing industry and its consumers by facilitating the dissemination of the latest general and technical information on roofing materials, practices and issues; facilitating and sponsoring research to encourage the improvement of product performance; and serving as the industry’s voice in contributing technical data and information to building and code officials, regulatory agencies, and allied trade groups.

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