The asphalt shingle is one of the most widely used roofing coverings in North America due to it's relatively inexpensive up-front cost and it's simplicity to install.
Asphalt shingles have been utilized for over 100 years! There are two different types of asphalt shingles, organic and fiberglass. Both are produced in a similar manner with the base of the shingle being either organic or fiberglass. The base of the shingle is saturated with asphalt or modified asphalt, the exposed surface is impregnated with granules which are made up of slate, stone, brick, quartz or ceramic. The underside is then treated with sand, mica or talc to prevent the shingles from sticking to one another. Although both types are produced in a similar way, the fiberglass shingle has been the shingle of choice since around 1982.
NOT ALL SHINGLES ARE MADE THE SAME
Shingles come in all different shapes, styles and colors. Shingles also have different warranties depending on the manufacturer of the shingle. Some shingles are designed to have the appearance of natural materials like wood shake and slate, and some are designed to resist high winds and algae. It is best to discuss with you representative what type of shingle will best suite your needs.
There are a lot of factors at play that determine the durability of the shingle. Shingles tend to last longer where the weather stays consistent. Dramatic changes in temperatures can cause thermal shock causing the shingles to become brittle over time lowering the life expectancy of the shingle. Adequate ventilation can help offset this by lowering the surface temperature of the shingle. Other factors include the orientation of the building, tree coverage, storms and installation methods. Hail falling during significant storms can cause major damage to the asphalt shingle requiring significant repairs or full replacement.
Asphalt shingles are generally a low maintenance material. Algae growth and moss that is caused by cycles of wet and dry conditions can cause premature wear. There are several different methods to removing algae growth and moss and should be approached with caution as high pressures from pressure washers can cause damage to the shingle that cannot be repaired. Shingle manufactures have stated that black algae can be removed with a bleach solution to kill the algae growth but moss and lichen growth may need a more agressive approach.
A good time to inspect your asphalt roof is after very heavy storms that produce high winds and hail. Your professional should be able to determine whether or not your shingle has sustained any damages from such storms. An annual inspection is also a good idea as preventative maintenance to give you an idea on how much life is left in the shingle.