Asphalt shingles - fiberglass vs organic

After doing some Googling to learn about shingles I ran into this:
“Fiberglass shingles are thinner, lighter, easier to lug around, and carry a better fire rating than organic shingles, but organic-mat shingles are tougher and stay more flexible in cold weather. Fiberglass shingles predominate in southern and central regions, but organic shingles are still popular in the North and are almost the universal choice in Canada.”

If the above is true then would I be wiser to have organic asphalt shingles installed if I live in Northeast Ohio?

I’m also wondering if the industry is moving away from organic asphalt shingles because the cost of the asphalt is becoming too high. I’m assuming fiberglass asphalt shingles require less asphalt than the organic ones.

Thank you in advance for any feedback.

All shingles contain asphalt. The difference is in the reinforcement mat at the core of the shingles.

Most, if not nearly 100% of all of the higher end and mid-weight architectural shingles are of the fiberglass core variety if that tells you anything.

Many manufacturers have eliminated the organic 3-tab lines from their selections available.

The Villa statement was more true when the common fiberglass shingles ranged from 180 to 220 pounds per square. Currently, the most commonly used 3-tab shingles weigh in around 242 to 250 pounds per square.

The thinner and lighter old version 3-tab fiberglass shingles were more prone to splitting, which seems to be a rarity now-a-days.


Seems like dated info JoeT. Mostly true at one time, but when organic shingles are nearly impossible to find, at least w/ any variety, in the lower 48, it is a pointless comparison.

And, what ed said

we use fiberglass here in bc canada

that is most likley an article that is ten years or much older. organic mat today is not the saturated rag felt of old it is recycled newspaper. They go bad in about 15 years. Only IKO and BP still make them and I heard IKO is phasing them out. Dont believe Bob Vila LOL.

I am in N.E.P.A. , and the only thing organic around here is what the competition is smokin before they get on the roof,lol…


You don’t need to scream at us…

The spellchecker works quite well also.

Welcome to twenty years ago…

At the bottom of the Vila article I’m now noticing “© 2001” so that answers the question about it being old.

As someone who is trying to make a big decision to have a new roof put on I’d like to be comfortable with the shingles that are being used. From what I can tell the fiberglass core shingle had problems when they first came out. It’s very easy to find articles about failing fiberglass core shingles with pre-mature cracks and tears. But I’m HOPING these problems don’t happen as much anymore because the industry has fixed the problem.

While I’m interested in understanding why the industry shifted to fiberglass core from organic my bottom line is I want a product will be the most durable for my climate in Northeast Ohio.

Assuming that, for whatever reason, organic based asphalt shingles are not an option, then how am going to know I’ve selected good shingles? I read their are evolving standards for shingles but the present state of the industry is that it’s still a gamble picking a shingle that will last. I wish shingles had a grading system similar to those used by tires which have a rating for tread life, traction and speed. It seems like the only thing I can do to minimize problems is to hire a roofer that installs the shingles correctly. That includes installing a proper venting system.

One of the roofers who gave me an estimate told me that decades ago asphalt shingles lasted longer because they rag based ‘organic’, were thicker, and used higher quality asphalt. He also told me years ago roofs didn’t get algae streaks like they do today. He said the streaks starting appearing when various stone based fillers were used in the shingle to replace the high quality asphalt.

From what I’ve read the supply of high quality asphalt has decreased from what is was decades ago. Back then the oil refineries had processes that were not as efficient as they are today and this resulted in their being more asphalt by product which contained more ‘good stuff’. But as the process improved the refineries were able to squeeze more out of the raw oil which meant their was less asphalt by product left over. And what was left over contained a higher percentage of junk than it did before.

This is cynical conjecture on my part but I’m thinking shingle manufacturers had to find another way of making affordable shingles thus came the birth of the fiberglass shingle and their related problems. Some additional conjecture is manufacturers decided that they could fix the initial problems of fiber glass core shingles by making them thicker and thus came the birth of the ‘architectural’ shingle.

Im currently working on trying to get a 12 condo unit 70 square each project. Organic shingles made by none other than Certainteed around 94. (Why I stay away from them)

I say when looking for quality look at the thickness of the shingle or if you want something to last a real long time put on some metal. If youre rich, there is always copper.

arch style shingles have been around for over forty years. the first one was the Timberline by Ruberoid “now GAF” first made in 1967. Fiberglass matt was started by owens corning to achieve a class A fire rating. organic shingles have a class c at best.


You and the Roofer that you spoke with seem to have a very near identical summation of the industry from my point of view.

First and foremost, the quality of the installation, which MUST be viewed as an entire System, which inevitably includes a proper Balanced Intake and Exhaust Ventilation system to be installed is Key.