What is the difference between composite fiberglass shingles and asphalt roofing shingles?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ April 19, 2010 ~ Comments

We are looking to replace the roofs of our house and garage. Aside from the difference the two types, how much maintenance are involved for fiberglass or asphalt roofing?

Glorya B. ~ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Glorya, fiberglass composite shingles are actually a type of asphalt shingle. A fiberglass shingle has an outer layer composed of an asphalt composition, and the underneath part of the shingle, which is against the roofing felt on the roof sheathing, is made of a fiberglass matting. An asphalt shingle has the same outer layer, but the underneath matting is of an asphalt organic material.

There are a few differences between the shingles. A bundle of fiberglass shingles is a little lighter than a bundle of asphalt shingles, which might not make a difference to you, but will to your roofing contractor, especially if he has to hand stock the roof. Fiberglass shingles are also more fire retardant than asphalt shingles.

Asphalt shingles have a heavier look to them, as the organic matting is a little thicker than the fiberglass. Asphalt shingles are also more flexible, which is a consideration when a roofer is installing shingles in colder weather. They can also be a little more water absorbent than fiberglass shingles.

Fiberglass shingles are used more in the southern part of the country, while asphalt shingles are used more in the north. Fiberglass shingles might last a little longer than asphalt shingles. Each is a good shingle, and if you prefer fiberglass there is no reason why you couldn't use it in the north. I grew up north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so I know how cold the winters can get. If you are anticipating a fall or late fall shingle replacement, you might ask your roofing contractor if he prefers asphalt roofing or fiberglass roofing.

There should be no difference in maintenance between asphalt roofing and fiberglass roofing. Just watch for cracked or broken shingles, and get them replaced as soon as possible. After a windstorm look to see if you have lost any shingles, especially right after the roof has been installed, and the shingles haven't had a chance to seat themselves. Other than that there isn't much maintenance involved. Fiberglass and asphalt shingles are available in warranties up to 50 years, but 25, 30, and 40 are more standard. While they might not last quite that long, you still shouldn't have to worry about your roofs for a long time with either product.

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