Asphalt Shingles 101

There are many types of roofing shingles, but the number one choice for homeowners and contractors is the asphalt shingle. These shingles set a high standard, containing a level of technology and durability that makes them a roofing champion.

What are they made from?

The main material in an asphalt shingle surprisingly isn’t asphalt; it’s fiberglass. Fiberglass is thin, lightweight, tear-resistant, and fire-resistant, especially when compared to felt or other base substances used in the past. The fiberglass weave is then coated with asphalt, making the shingle waterproof and adding strength. Finally, the top of the asphalt shingle is embedded with mineral granules. The minerals used are a mixture of slate, schist, quartz, vitrified brick, stone, and ceramic granules. The granules serve a dual purpose - they diffuse light, protecting the asphalt beneath from damaging UV rays, while they simultaneously protect the asphalt from exposure to the elements.

Premium Shingles

Manufacturers have ways to increase the longevity of ordinary asphalt shingles. Improvements include adding styrene butadiene-styrene (SBS), creating what is known as modified or rubberized shingles. SBS makes the shingles more flexible, which leads to better weathering, higher wind-resistance and advanced impact-resistance from hail or other objects. This substance also helps the granules adhere better so that they remain to reflect the sun’s UV rays, keeping the shingles from thermal cracking and rapid weathering. This improved performance is even noted outside the roofing industry, as some insurance companies give better rates to homeowners that have premium shingles.

Manufacturers have also used technology to create improvements to the granules themselves. Granules can be saturated with special formulae that can stabilize the colour better, make a shingle algae-resistant, or provide better UV-resistance.

Sealant Strips

Proper shingle installation requires sealant strips. These are continuous or intermittent lines of raw asphalt applied to the top part of each shingle. Each sealant strip is then covered by the next layer of shingles installed. The sealant strips bond the shingles together once heated in the sun’s warmth. This creates a strong, unified roofing matrix which provides resistance to lifting in high winds. 


Asphalt shingles appeal to people in many ways. Their faceted texture catches highlights and low lights, creating depth and tremendous curb appeal. The mineral granules are available in a wide range of beautiful colours. The price point for materials and installation is reasonable. Long-term warranties provide assurance to the homeowner, while keeping maintenance considerations low. All in all, they are an excellent choice for any prairie or mountain home.

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