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How To Tell The Difference Between Asphalt And Fiberglass Shingles

Posted on April 27, 2023

Estimated Reading Time : 5 Min.

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How To Tell The Difference Between Asphalt And Fiberglass Shingles

The roof of your home stands guard against the forces of nature so choosing the appropriate roofing materials is crucial. Durability, cost, and aesthetics all play an essential role, but how do you tell the difference between different types of shingles? 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into how to tell the difference between asphalt and fiberglass shingles. We’ll examine what makes them different from each other, explore their pros and cons, and consider the cost implications. Whether you’re building a new home or replacing your existing roof, this guide will help you in making a decision.

Asphalt vs Fiberglass Shingles: What’s The Difference?

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of shingles used for roofing. Since both asphalt and fiberglass shingles have asphalt content in their composition, homeowners often get confused about what type of shingles they have.

Organic Asphalt Shingles

Organic Asphalt Shingles

The age-old asphalt shingles were made entirely of organic materials with an asphalt-saturated base mat which is coated with mineral granules for added strength. The base material is typically made of organic felt, but the majority of asphalt shingles used today are made with a fiberglass mat.

Today, most asphalt shingles have a fiberglass mat, which leads us to believe that these shingles are made mostly from fiberglass. But the fact is, it’s just one part of its composition.

Fiberglass Asphalt Shingles

Fiberglass Asphalt Shingles

Fiberglass shingles are made of a mix of organic and composite materials, which is a more robust and durable composition. The base mat of these shingles is made of fiberglass, then coated with a layer of asphalt, and then topped with mineral granules. They are finished with better sealing and nailing technology than organic asphalt shingles.

Fortunately, all these improvements did not make fiberglass shingles too heavy for existing roof decks. Instead, they are even lighter than organic asphalt shingles. Now, let’s find out which type of shingles your roof has.

How Can You Tell if Your Roof Has Fiberglass or Asphalt Shingles?

Determining the type of shingles on your roof can be challenging, especially if you didn’t install them yourself. Here are some easy ways to identify whether your roof has fiberglass or asphalt shingles:

Look at the Color and Texture

Both asphalt and fiberglass shingles come in various colors, but they have distinct textures. Asphalt shingles have a rougher, more granulated texture, while fiberglass shingles have a smoother surface and occasionally some shadows and patterns that create a 3D look.

Check for Layers

Fiberglass shingles are typically thinner than asphalt shingles, so they may have more layers to compensate for this. Look at the edge of the shingles and count the layers to determine whether they are fiberglass or asphalt.

Consider the Age of Your Roof

If your roof is over 20 years old, it likely has asphalt shingles. Fiberglass shingles have only become widespread in the past few decades, so if you are looking at a new roof, it’s more likely to have fiberglass shingles.

Consult a Roofing Contractor

If you’re still unsure, it’s best to consult a licensed and experienced roofing contractor. They can inspect your roof and tell you whether you have asphalt or fiberglass shingles.

Identifying the type of shingles on your roof is essential if you need to replace or repair them. It can also help you choose better roofing materials in the future that are compatible with other parts of your roof.

Now, most homeowners who are in the market for new roofing shingles often wonder whether fiberglass and architectural shingles are the same. So let’s find out the answer to that question.

Are Architectural Shingles Fiberglass or Asphalt?

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional or laminated shingles, are a type of roofing material that is made with a multi-layer design with a fiberglass mat and asphalt layer.

While organic asphalt shingles have a flat, uniform pattern, which we call 3-tab, architectural shingles come in more variations that are designed to mimic the look of natural materials like wood or slate.

After understanding the basic differences between asphalt and fiberglass shingles, let’s move on to their pros and cons. This will help you make the right decision regarding your new roofing project.

Asphalt vs Fiberglass Shingles: Which One Is Better?

While asphalt shingles are cheaper than fiberglass, they are less sturdy and durable. This will ultimately require you to spend more on repairs and replacements over the years. They usually need a replacement after 15 years due to extreme temperatures and outdated technology.

However, organic asphalt shingles have shown satisfactory performance in mild climates that do not receive much rain or snow. So if you live in such an area, you can consider using these shingles.

As for fiberglass shingles, they generally last for 30 years, with warranties ranging from 25 to 50 years! That’s an impressive quality for most homeowners. Fiberglass shingles may cost more initially, but the added durability and longevity make them a good investment if you want a high-quality roof with insurance and tax benefits. These laminated shingles can also enhance your home’s curb appeal and resale value with their luxurious patterns and rich colors.

If you are wondering about the cost of installation, let’s take a look at what most homeowners pay and how much a new roof for your home might cost.

The Cost of Asphalt vs Fiberglass Shingles 

According to Modernize, the average cost to install shingles is between $268 to $489 per square foot for fiberglass, and around $139 to $253 for asphalt. These price ranges are for homes with a 3000-square-foot area and a standard roof design. The final cost to install a new shingle roof can be much lower or higher, depending on several factors. 

Here’s a detailed overview of what may affect your roofing cost:

  • Whether you need new sheathing and rafters: If your roof’s sheathing or rafters are damaged or deteriorated, they will need to be replaced before a new roof can be installed.
  • Your home’s size and roof design: A larger home or a roof with multiple angles and peaks will require more materials and labor, which can increase the overall cost.
  • Type of shingles: The simple 3-tab design has the lowest price point, while architectural and luxury shingles cost more.
  • Labor costs in your area: Labor costs can vary depending on your local market rates and the experience and certifications of the roofing contractor you choose.
  • Current season: Roofing contractors may be in higher demand during certain seasons, such as spring and summer, when the weather is more favorable for roof installation. This can impact the project’s pricing, as contractors may charge more during peak season.

The best course of action is to get a free estimate for your roof installation project, which will include a breakdown of the cost. If you need more help learning the difference between asphalt and fiberglass shingles, or determining which is best for your home, we’re here to guide you.

Free Consultation and Estimate for Homeowners

As a homeowner, protecting your home is one of your top priorities, and your roof is one of the most critical components of your home’s protection. At North Star Roofing, we understand the importance of a reliable and durable roof, which is why we install high-quality asphalt shingle roofs for all our customers. Call us at (484) 302-7663 for a free consultation and estimate on your project, and we will be happy to help you out.

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