Are all asphalt shingles the same? This is a good question. The manufacturers of asphalt shingles all think their product is the best.
First off, what is an asphalt shingle? An asphalt shingle is primarily made up of asphalt, a fiberglass mat and fine granules of rock. However, additives to the asphalt, granule processing and the manufacturing process can be the difference in the quality of the asphalt shingle.
What does the fiberglass do in an asphalt shingle? The fiberglass mat is consistent along all manufacturers of the shingle. They purchase the fiberglass mat from the same source. Each manufacture might have slightly different specifics but they all come from the same fiberglass manufacturer. The fiberglass provides the strength to the shingle and helps bind all the materials together. Prior to the 1960’s the mat was an organic based mat. Then asphalt shingle manufacturers started playing with the fiberglass mat. Around the 1970’s to the 1980’s most asphalt shingle we being manufactured with the fiberglass mat. Fiberglass provided more strength than the organic mat and also proved to be lighter.
The main waterproofing ingredient is the asphalt. While asphalt is the main ingredient, the additives each manufacturer adds can make a big difference in how the asphalt shingle will perform. Each manufacturer has their own secret ingredients that makes up their blend of the asphalt waterproofing. Asphalt alone cannot withstand the damaging ultra violet rays of the sun without modifying the recipe. Each manufacturer has spent years developing their asphalt blend that can withstand the elements of the weather. A good asphalt should be able to stay pliable during cold weather, not be too soft during hot weather and not degrade rapidly.
What is the purpose of the granules? The granules provide protection to the asphalt, color variegation and ballast to the shingle. The granules are a rock that has been crushed. The the granules are then coated in a ceramic mixture that will provide the color. Each manufacturer will specify the size and color of the granules they will need to manufacture their asphalt shingles.
How are the asphalt shingles manufactured? Shingles are manufactured on a conveyor line. The conveyor line is critical to the quality of the shingle. The fiberglass mat runs through a series of conveyors that coat the mat in the hot asphalt mixture and then coated with a blend of colored granules. The speed at which the conveyor line is ran, the temperature at which the hot asphalt is applied and when the colored granules are applied can determine the quality of the asphalt shingle.
So to answer the question, are all asphalt shingles the same? The answer is no. Each manufacturer has their own recipe as to how their asphalt shingles are made. Just as with any food recipe can be altered to change the final result, asphalt shingle recipes can do the same.