Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roof replacement materials, having surpassed wood in terms of popularity and practicality. In this post, Bradford Xteriors discusses everything you need to know about asphalt shingles roofing, from its history to why it remains the most practical choice for many homes.
A Brief History of Asphalt
In the early 1800s, roofers would lay fabric on the roof and coat it with a sticky substance, like pine tar. This predecessor to asphalt roofs was similar to modern-day roofing membranes and had the same application—as a waterproofing cover for the roof.
In 1847, two roofers in Newark, Samuel M. Warren and Cyrus M. Warren, the early asphalt pioneers, replaced costly pine tar with coal tar, which was more readily available as waste from the gas light industry. At this point, the Warrens found that the asphalt from Trinidad Lake could be blended with oil byproducts to create an easy-to-mix roofing pitch.
The rise in the petroleum industry meant that the Warrens no longer had to rely on coal tar and could instead switch solely to asphalt. By the end of 1850, it became common practice to use “rag” felts saturated in petroleum asphalt and then surfaced with slate chips. This was the predecessor of the modern-day asphalt roof and would be further refined into the familiar roofing material we know today.
Three Types of Asphalt Roofs
There are three types of asphalt shingles: three-tab, dimensional and luxury shingles. The three-tab shingle system is standard, offering respectable but basic protection. It’s the closest to the original “rag” asphalt of the 1850s.
Dimensional shingles have a multi-dimensional appearance that makes them a popular combination with wood and vinyl siding. These shingles have higher durability and inner strength and can easily last 30 years or longer with proper care and maintenance.
Luxury shingles are the cream of the crop when it comes to looks and features, and boast maximum durability for a secure home. This asphalt roof style is notable for its ability to replicate the look of other materials at fraction of the cost, such as slate and cedar shingles.
Asphalt roofs remain one of the most practical roofing materials, thanks to a combination of versatile aesthetics, higher durability and excellent weather tolerance.