Pros and Cons of Shingle Roofing

asphalt shingles
Asphalt shingles can have a dimensional look. Fotolia

Putting a 'roof over your head' is an age-old expression and speaks to the importance of reliable shelter in our lives. But roofing today is much more than just shelter. Today you have a multitude of material and roofing style options that help it provide both protection and fit in with the design of your home’s exterior.

There are two fundamental types of roofing, shingles and tiles. Both are worth considering.

This article will address the pros and cons of shingle roofing which can be made from asphalt, composite material or wood.

If you aren’t sure which type of shingle style or material best suits your home, you can talk to pro roofing contractors such as the folks at HomeAdvisor to get the answers you need, see actual samples and get some budget pricing. I've tried a few different home contractor selection websites and have had the best experiences with HomeAdvisor. So let's take a closer look at shingles.


Shingles are the most popular roofing option in the United States. With their lower cost and high performance, they represent good value and great aesthetics. Although are not as durable as some other roofing materials like slate or tile which can last 100 years, they can last 20 to 40+ years and don't cost an arm and a leg either. Asphalt shingles can range from $180 to $380 per square (100 square feet of roof area) furnished and installed.

Tile or slate roofs can run 3 times that or even more.

With shingles you have some great options. You can install wood shingles, wood shakes or asphalt shingles. Wood shingles look naturally aged and come in different species depending on the look you need. Cedar and redwood shingles will last between 20 and 40+ years if properly maintained and not located in damp wooded areas.

Wood shingles and shakes do cost more than asphalt shingles however, usually around $350 to $500 per square.

Asphalt shingles come in two basic types: organic or fiberglass. Organic shingles are made of paper saturated with asphalt, making them waterproof. Fiberglass shingles have glass and fiber with asphalt on top to make them waterproof as well.

Organic shingles are considered the most durable of the two, but are more prone to fire and are less environmentally friendly because more asphalt goes into them during manufacturing. You should consider installing fiberglass shingles if you’re concerned about fire.

There is another type of premium shingle worth mentioning that is called a luxury asphalt shingle. These shingles are made of laminated or composite materials and are thicker than normal asphalt shingles. They are designed to emulate the appearance of high end stone or wood shake materials by use of shadow lines and textural differences. Warranties on these shingles are usually around 40+ years.

There are pros and cons to shingle roof just as there are pros and cons to tile roofing systems. Let's take a look at the benefits and challenges of shingle roofing.

Advantages of Shingles

There are various advantages to investing in shingles as your roofing material. Some of the major benefits include:

Affordability / Value

There is a lower cost associated with buying and installing shingles versus clay or concrete tile roofing or slate. Whether you buy asphalt or wood shingles, you’ll pay far less in the short term. They will last between 12 to 40+ years, depending on which material you use. You may pay additional costs

You Have Lots of Choices!
While it sounds limiting to choose between wood and asphalt, you actually have many styles of shingles to choose from including:

  • 3-tab
  • Laminated (architectural)
  • Premium dimensional
  • Luxury asphalt or composite
  • Wood Shingle
  • Wood Shake

Architectural shingles, for example, provide an attractive 3 dimensional look to your roof and imitate the look of wood shingles.

Asphalt shingles also come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. You can find almost any kind of shingle to match your home’s exterior and increase the visual appeal of your home.

Additional advantages of shingles include:

  • Good for steep-sloped roofs
  • Require no structural reinforcement
  • Weather resistant
  • Don’t require special accessories for edges or flashing
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to walk on for inspections and repairs
  • Good for re-roofing over other materials


Disadvantages of Shingles

Although shingles are inexpensive and easy to install, they come with some disadvantages:

  • Roof shingles can be damaged at below-freezing temperatures
  • Susceptible to high winds
  • Can crack when the temperature changes too much
  • Not good in very hot climates, because heat and humidity can cause them to crack
  • Not an eco-friendly roofing material
  • Can be damaged environmental issues like mildew, mold or moss buildup