Home » What are asphalt shingles?

Today, there are a wide variety of roofing materials. When discussing residential roofing, we often hear about 'asphalt shingles', but what are they?

asphalt shingles new residential roof

Photo courtesy Trent Studios, LLC

What are asphalt shingles?

Asphalt shingles are a type of roof covering that uses asphalt for waterproofing. Each shingle is flat and rectangular, measuring 1' tall and 3' wide. The shingles overlap and seal to each other to cover a roof. Asphalt shingles are the most popular residential roofing system, compared to tile or metal.


Learn more about the differences between asphalt shingles, tile and metal, including the pros and cons of each, average costs and more in our Guide to Residential Roofing.


  1. Owens Corning's 3-tab asphalt shingles starts with a bottom layer of asphalt. (Asphalt is a mixture of pitch with sand or gravel.)
  2. Next is the fiberglass mat. (an organic mat is no longer available) This fiberglass mat provides strength and durability.
  3. On top of the fiberglass mat is another layer of asphalt.
  4. The fourth layer is the colorful granules that give your roof style and protection from water and ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  5. The top layer is a sealant that also helps keep water out.

What are the benefits of asphalt shingles?

  • Wide variety of colors
  • Many shapes and textures
  • Easy installation
  • Affordable
  • Recyclable
  • Versatile
  • Can be impact resistant
  • Can be fire resistant
  • Can be algae resistant
  • Can be wind resistant
  • Can reflect heat

Who should use asphalt shingles?

Homeowners should strongly consider asphalt shingles, primarily because they are affordable, easy to install, and you can color-coordinate the shingles to match the house.

How much do asphalt shingles cost?

Asphalt shingles are less expensive than tile or metal. For a typical ranch-style house, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $14,000 to have your shingle roof replaced.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding asphalt shingles, or if you would like an estimate or a free roof inspection.