Today, most houses in the United States, as well as in Canada and Europe are roofed with shingles. They make excellent systems that protect houses from bad weather, wind and water. Because they are such an important part of any house, there are many manufacturers both home and abroad that produce shingles for different kinds of needs.
In fact, the range of options is so big, that just selecting the type of shingles for your house can be overwhelming to the average person. It is a task that is much better accomplished if undertaken by two people.
Most people believe that selecting a type of shingle is based only on two factors, color and design. While these are very important factors indeed (specially because you will be looking at them for the following 20 years), you also need to take into consideration the material with which shingles are made, as they have different qualities and prices.
The most conservative and popular choices are asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles can be classified in two ways, by content and by thickness. Asphalt shingles that are made out of organic materials are called organic shingles, and the ones that are made out of fiberglass are called fiberglass shingles. In addition, asphalt shingles can be classified according to their thickness in two categories, composition shingles and dimensional shingles. All organic shingles belong to one of the categories of each classification, giving a total of four classifications. However, these classifications are not normally used by manufactures when giving information to their clients, so it is a good idea to ask about them.
Asphalt shingles that are made from organic material were very popular a few decades ago, but they are losing territory to fiberglass shingles. The reason for this is that asphalt singles made from organic materials are less resistant to fire. Also, the quality of the organic material they are made of has deteriorated lately (in some cases, even old newspapers are used), and a lot of these asphalt shingles have to be replaced frequently. Fiberglass shingles are a bit more expensive. However, they make it up with their higher resistance to impact. In addition, they are more resistant to fire.
Also, asphalt shingles that are thin, which are also called composition shingles, are cheaper and easier to install. Dimensional shingles are thicker, which adds to their durability, but the real difference is that the extra layers can be sculpted and used to give them a customized look.
So, as you can see, there are very different types of asphalt shingles. Select carefully the ones for your roof, as you will be seeing them for the next 10 or 20 years.