What's the real deal on asphalt longevity, durability?

Hi:

I’m a homeowner in the greater Vancouver, BC area. I need a new roof, and I’ve been consulting this forum over and over again during my decision-making process.

I have been leaning toward asphalt because metal, tile, slate, etc. cost so much more. I’ve done all my research and have decided on the manufacturer (Certainteed), the shingle type (Landmark TL), the underlayment (Roofer’s Select), the venting (Shingle Vent II), etc. I’ve opted for the TLs and all the other components and a Certainteed “Select Shingle” installer so I can take advantage of Certainteed’s top-level Five-Star warranty.

But I have a really serious question to ask. The roofers in my area (I’ve contacted only reputable roofers) and Certainteed itself (I called them yesterday) all tell me I should get an absolute minimum of 20 - 25 years and likely 30 or 40 or more from this asphalt roof setup. HOWEVER, the Internet is FILLED with resources that say the lifespan of an asphalt shingle, even the higher end shingles, is 10 or 15 years, max. They talk about class action lawsuits, massive granule loss, terrible esthetic problems, leaks, cracks, warps, and all sorts of nightmarish probabilities. And this isn’t just a few sites I’m talking about - just do a Google search using the words average + lifespan + asphalt + shingles and there’s no end to the depressing news. Many of these resources even say the manufacturers are aware of these issues and thusly offer warranties they can escape from when their shingles inevitably start falling apart after 10 or 12 years. And all this on a purprotedly “Lifetime” shingle.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but who am I to believe? Here in the Vancouver area, the roofing job I’ve selected will run me $15,000. That’s a lot of money. I can’t afford to spend it on a job that won’t do 20 or 25 years. Conversely, metal or tile or slate or rubber will all run me in excess of $25,000.

Is there anywhere I can turn, or can any of you help me? I just want to know what to believe. This job will have good components, more-than-adequate ventilation, and a contractor who knows what he’s doing. But none of that matters if in ten or twelve years it’s falling apart and the warranty, through fancy language and small print I can barely understand, doesn’t cover it.

Thanks so much in advance for listening. We’re just getting into the rainy season here, and I absolutely must replace my crumbling 18-year-old cedar roof ASAP.

Im in the process of tearing off 380 square worth of certainteed that are 11 years old and bidding on another one with 450 square worth of certainteed that are 13 years old. Considering that is the brand that I tear off the most, and with how long it is actually on the roof before I tear it off, I wouldnt expect more than 20 years from their lifetime shingle.

Then again, I’m biased.

Vancouver,BC eh?? Go for Pabco shingles… :wink:

Thanks for the replies kage and bam. But I’m not really looking at a shingle vs shingle thing. I’ve read thru so many posts here with GAF vs Certainteed vs Pabco vs Malarkey, etc. There doesn’t seem to be any real concensus, and it certainly doesn’t seem any one shingle is miles better than another in the top brands. My question has simply to do with the overall longevity of asphalt shingles and the overall validity of the warranties that come with them. Bam’s response only validates my concern. He says Certainteeed shingles failed in 11 and 13 years. Yet other roofers say GAF or IKO or “insert name” shingles fail in just as short a period. Leads me to believe that despite hearing from manufacturers that their shingles will last 20, 25, 30, and 40 years (as Certainteed told me yesterday), the reality is far worse. As I said in my original post, what and who do I believe?

In my area, Indianapolis, IN, I see 3 tab 25 year roofs that last 20 years all the time. The only reason they dont last longer is because of hail.

As long as you have proper ventilation your roof should last 20-25 years. If you dont have enough ventilation then you will see your shingles fail between 10-15 years.

It seems that you have done your research and have made a very educated decision on the products you will be using on your home. yes the warranties from the manufacturer are pretty much worthless so I would be more sure to get a good labor warranty from the actual installer more than anything else.

btw… we use certainteed on most of our roofs

Oh Geez… :wink:

If installed correctly with adequate ventillation, most of the major manufactured shingles should give you at least 20 yrs if not longer.
The construction of the fibreglass mat has come a long way over the years to deal with the extreme temperature changes from hot to cold.
That being said, if you are concerned that you are only going to get 10-15 yrs out of your “lifetime” roof, why would you spend the extra money and not just get a good quality 30 yr product? The difference in price might justify exectations of getting at least 20 yrs out of the shingle.

johne5

Hey bangon http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/sauer/angry-smiley-038.gif...theres only 3 reasons why i have torn off fiberglass shingles-

  1. H/O wanted different color or look
  2. Inproper ventilation and NO underlayment
  3. Crap installer.

[quote=“kage”]Hey bangon http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/sauer/angry-smiley-038.gif...theres only 3 reasons why i have torn off fiberglass shingles-

  1. H/O wanted different color or look
  2. Inproper ventilation and NO underlayment
  3. Crap installer.[/quote]

Kage …that’s what I was getting at…

johne5

I am in the Seattle area, I do 100+/- roofs yearly.
I rarely see an aspaht roof over 15 years old.
Ask Certainteed or your bidding roofers for a few
addresses of a fiberglass shingle that is 20 yrs old.
They will not be able to do it - they are very rare
and, if you find one, it will look nasty and be way
late for replacement. Beware of cheap roofing.
seattleroofbroker.com/productsasphalt.htm

jimg:

Funny you should write. Yours is one of the websites that spurred me to ask this question in the first place. If I believe some of the info at your site, the whole idea of asphalt at all becomes highly questionable. But that’s the problem - hard to know what to believe.

You say “beware of cheap roofing.” But I’m in a position where I need a roof now. If you have a better idea that I might not already know about, could you PM me?

How are we supposed to learn?

I don’t think you ever got the answer you were looking for, so I’ll give it a shot.

First and foremost you asked how long can you expect asphalt to last, and then you started talking about shingles. Asphalt as a waterproofing agent can last years even decades, but it all depends on a few things. Asphalt starts to age and become embrittled as it is exposed primarily to two things; heat and solar radiation. With heat being the primary culprit. In fact heat is used when blowing the asphalt to change the properties, i.e., Type 1A (paving) and Types I, II, III and IV for roofing. It should also be noted that heat, especially while asphalt is being cooked in a kettle, also breaks down the light oils in the asphalt. So, to answer your first question, I’d have to say ‘it depends’.

So, we now know that asphalt’s biggest enemy is heat. With that in mind, you have to realize that asphalt in BC should last longer than asphalt in Texas or Florida. Although, cold has its own affect on asphalt as the asphalt is less pliable and more brittle.

Now, if you really want to know the answer to the question you don’t know how to ask, this is what I can tell you. The primary difference between a 20-year, 25-year, 30-year, etc. shingle is the amount of asphalt in the shingle itself; that is why you hear some speak of shingles by weight per square, because the increased amount of asphalt gives you a thicker, longer lasting shingle.

With regards to the reinforcement, shingles generally nowadays use fiberglass, although there a a few that still use an organic felt mat. The higher-end modified bitumen roofing membrane (it comes in rolls that are surfaced much like a shingle but is used on low-sloped roofs) use a fiberglass and polyester scrim for reinforcement. During manufacture, the mat goes through a calendering process at the factory where the asphalt is basically poured onto the mat, it is flipped and asphalt is poured onto the reverse side. Then while the asphalt is still hot, granules are cast onto the surface of the roof membrane.

In the end, what you need to know is the thicker the shingle, the more asphalt and the longer its life-span. The less sunlight and heat, the longer the asphalt will last. Granules can be lost due to poor application at the factory due to poor QA, or they can be worn off by weathering, tree branches, foot traffic, etc.

Also:

Fiberglass > Organic
Laminate/Arch > 3-Tab

With regard to manufacturer, that usually is a personal preference and who the shingle contractor gets the best deals from. Myself, I have Certainteeds on my house, but that is because the builder used a contractor that uses Certainteed. The fact they are contractor grade though should say something, but at least it isn’t like getting a contractor-grade dishwasher or something. Personally, I like the old Elk Corp. shingles, but really haven’t examined them much since GAF bought them out.

Hope that helps. If not, I hope somebody learned something.

got another bite eh jimg?..i would also like to know the better way jimg

quote="jimg
[/quote]

Like i said earlier most of the time they look like crap is because of lack of venting no underlayment or lousy install,all the ones i have replaced the majority was not proper venting.

I have replaced 2 roofs this year that were about 14 or so years old. They needed it. I have also replaced 2 this year that were 27, and 29 years old. They all needed to be replaced. Only rotten sheathing was on the 29 year old roof, and that was because of inadequate flashing at corners of dormers, not shingles failing.

Axiom said this not long ago, but considering the price and amount of time an asphalt shingle can last it is a pretty good deal, even with todays shingle prices. I think you will be ok, sounds like you’re doing all the right things.

My father-in-law’s roof is 28 years old and is still in decent shape. he’s got 20 year 3-tabs and inadequate ventilation. I also think that shade, sunlight, which way your house faces, pitch of your roof, and region can greatly effect how long a shingle roof can last. I tore off a 3/12 pitch shingle roof this year that was 20+ years old, with the old elk arcs on it. Not one bit of rotten wood. It was also high nailed with butt joints about 4" apart. However, it was on the south side of the house and saw sun all day. North side was 12/12 (cape cod) and shady, had lots of rotten wood on the front.

I’m rambling. Ok I guess the point is there are too many factors not including manufacturers shingle quality that can effect performance. Also consider this-do you think anyone would create a forum to discuss how wonderfully their asphalt roof has served them?? I don’t. Most People don’t think about their roof until it is a problem. None of the people with great functioning roofs that last their lifespan are online creating lawsuits or forums about it. When you search online you are getting the worst of the worst experiences.

Did you know if someone has a bad business experience they average telling 7 people about it? Compare that to 2.5 people they tell for a good business experience.

Hope that helps.

Kind of hard to justify fiberglass > organic
when many of the oldtime organic roofs lasted
30-35 years (with 20 year warranties) and most
fiberglass fail before 20 years (with 30+ warranties)

Also hard to justify architectural > 3tab
when most manufacturers offer a “30 year” 3-tab
that is thicker than their (own) “50 year” arch.
It is the thickness of the base that counts because
that is the “weak link” in the shingle design…
I do agree that the more asphalt on the shingle
(the thicker the base layer) the more durable the
product - assuming the filler used is the same.

The reason we are still seeing roofs 25+/- year old
is, after the introduction of fiberglass shingles
in 70’s, they still made some decent organic shingles
for a while… they don’t make them like that now.

Thanks to everyone so far for helping me out. And Shangle, yes, I know - the Internet is a great place for everyone to get their bitch on. :slight_smile:

The thing is that when you’re a homeowner who’s trying to get educated BEFORE the job, things like “lifetime” warranties that have lots of outs, stories of sub-10-year roofs, and websites like jimg’s Seattle-based site can really get you confused.

If other, superior solutions existed up here in Canada that DIDN’T cost more than twice as much, I’d consider them. But man, I had a metal quote of $34,000 the other day!!! And there’s a neighbour across the street who paid $32,000 for a plastic roof. Holy sh*t!! At those prices, a decent “lifetime” asphalt roof with a good install and good components at $15,000 looks like my only alternative, even if it lasts just 20 years.

jimg, just read your most recent post. I thought “organic” shingles weren’t all that great. Of course, I think that way only because of some of the things I’ve read.

gordholio99,

The old-time organic shingles were the bomb…
I have seen them last 35 and even 40 years, although
they did look pretty nasty by then.

When the industry looked to lower the asphalt content
in shingles and started adding “filler” to the asphalt
(last oil crisis in 1974) they ruined the products - some say an purpose as they wanted to roof twice
as often.

Good luck on the project.

Grab some coffee as this is long…

It’s not my intent to start a flame war and I’m also not selling anything.

I’ve been visiting this forum and others doing research for the past few weeks. I came across this post and registered for the sole purpose to respond.

I’m having a new roof installed as we speak.

I, too, was in the same predicament about what roof to go with. The recently removed roof that I did have was 30 year Corning 3 tab shingles. After 10-12 years (don’t know the exact age as we bought the house only 3 years ago), they were shot and in urgent need of replacing before winter.

On to the heart of the matter…

My roof- 3.5:12 hip with a new addition and some dormer style attic vents that measures 31 squares.

We investigated 3 options…50 year archectural shingles, Decra metal tile, and real tile.

50 year Certainteed Presidential Shake was coming in at $155 per square with a 4-6 week lead time from the local Lowes (total cost about $12k). Decra Villa tile was coming in at $275 square without the necessary accoutrement ($18k before labor of $250ish per square). We were looking at the same lead time.

Last, but not least, we started looking at tile. $105 per square for cold climate concrete tile delivered to my doorstep in the MidAtlantic from central Florida. Delivered 8 days ater placing the order. Their rep put me in touch with one of the artisans and he’ll be finishing up my roof in the next 2-3 days. Total cost: $24k, but let me break it down.

Although not necessary in my state, we had an engineering assessment conducted. Even though there were no major recommendations, we sistered a lot of rafters and added additional support to some hip jacks and other rafters. The result is essentially new rafters within our 60 year old roof. Whereas the building code calls for a load rating of 15 psf static and 25psf live load,(typical roof needed for tile, btw), we now have a 20 static and 40+ live load rating based on the span charts. Cost $3000, including engineer. Well worth the piece of mind.

We opted for copper valleys and lead flashing with addtional copper to be used for attic vents and other eye candy. $1500.

The part that may seem insane to some people…two complete underlayments. One layer of ice and water shield covering the entire roof. Placed 30lb felt beneath that. Cost $2000.

Pressure treated lumber for battens, copper nails, and several buckets of hot dipped galvanized screws : $1500.

The rest was for tear off by a seperate crew, landfill charges, the actual tile and the installation.

You’re probably thinking…"$8,000 spent before the first tile went on the roof. What a waste!"

Now, I opted to take the Rolls Royce route. You can save money by going with galvanized flashing, single underlayment, etc. Since you live up north, I imagine that you’ve the necessary roof to support tile already.

The cheapest “long term” solution was 50 year shingles at about $12,000. But given my experience that shingles only last half as long as advertised (installed on my roof by local installers, experienced or not), I chose that path because reshingling in a few decades would cost, adjusting for inflation and oil prices, probably be closer to $20k or more the next time around. In a 25 year span I’d be out more than $30k.

Long rant short…now is the time to look at tile. The prices are the lowest ever and you have a product that’s demonstrated longitivity into the centuries…not years. That’s not to mention the “cool roof” energy savings, resale value, and the environmental benefits. It also really makes my stucco house stand out, if I may say so.

[quote=“jimg”]Kind of hard to justify fiberglass > organic
when many of the oldtime organic roofs lasted
30-35 years (with 20 year warranties) and most
fiberglass fail before 20 years (with 30+ warranties)

Also hard to justify architectural > 3tab
when most manufacturers offer a “30 year” 3-tab
that is thicker than their (own) “50 year” arch.
It is the thickness of the base that counts because
that is the “weak link” in the shingle design…
I do agree that the more asphalt on the shingle
(the thicker the base layer) the more durable the
product - assuming the filler used is the same.

The reason we are still seeing roofs 25+/- year old
is, after the introduction of fiberglass shingles
in 70’s, they still made some decent organic shingles
for a while… they don’t make them like that now.[/quote]

Quality of materials have all gone down. Back in the 1920’s coal-tar pitch roofs were installed with organic felts and lasted 60+ years; I know, because I tore one off in Baltimore.

Anyway, just like the quality of drywall/gypsum-board has declined over the years, so has the quality of asphalt products. So, your organic vs. fiberglass statement is based on materials from different eras.

Today, Fiberglass > Organic.

And, unless I have a fairly low-sloped shingle roof I still say Arch > 3-Tab.

What do you have on your house? Org or Fiberglass? Archs or 3-tabs?