Before You Default To Asphalt Shingles, Do Some Thinking

Asphalt shingles are a very common roofing material. Many homeowners simply choose shingle roofs without even giving it much thought. While a shingle roof might be right for you, it also may not be. It's important to weigh both the pros and cons of this roofing option before you agree to have an asphalt roof put on your home.

Pro: Asphalt shingles are inexpensive.

If you're on a limited budget, an asphalt shingle roof is certainly the most affordable choice. The average shingle roof runs between $1 and $4 per square foot. Most other roofing choices cost substantially more. For instance, metal roofing costs about $7 to $9 per square foot, and slate is even more expensive than that. Since there are so many roofers that offer asphalt shingles, you can do some shopping around to find the best deal. This is harder to do with rarer roofing materials.

Pro: Asphalt shingle roofs are pretty easy to repair.

Asphalt shingle roofs may not last a long or be as durable as other roofing options, like slate and metal. However, when an asphalt roof suffers damage, it is typically pretty simple to repair. If you have some basic DIY skills and tools, you can even nail loose shingles back on yourself. For more extensive repairs, it's easy to find a roofing contractor to do the job, since so many of them work with shingles. Plus, your repairs should be pretty affordable since the repair process is straightforward. You'd have a much harder time repairing a slate, metal or tile roof yourself –and the repair costs are usually higher, too.

Con: Asphalt roofs are prone to algae and moss.

 Algae and moss grow pretty readily on asphalt shingles. If you have trees shading your roof, or if it is shaded for any other reason, this may present a challenge. Algae and moss love to grow in the shade. If your roof does develop algae or moss, you'll need to have it removed. Otherwise, it will cause your roof to decay prematurely.

Con: Asphalt roofs are prone to ice dams.

If your attic is not well-insulated, your roof may fall prey to ice dams in the winter. Snow will melt near the peak of the roof, and will trickle down, refreezing at the edge of the roof. The ice can work its way under the shingles and lead to leaks. Some homes are designed in such a way that no matter how much insulation you add to the attic, ice dams still form. You'll continue dealing with them for as long as you have an asphalt roof, whereas the melted snow would slide right off a metal roof and the ice would not be able to dislodge heavy slate or tiles.