Composite Shingles: Are They Better Than Standard Asphalt Shingles?

Chris Gennone
Published Feb 26, 2021
·
4 min read

Composite shingles installed on a roof

Image source: Wofford Roofing

While asphalt shingles remain the most popular type of shingles available today, composite shingles are becoming a popular choice among homeowners due to their increased durability. Asphalt and composite shingles are both similar but differ in some key areas. Although both shingles are algae resistant and mostly fire-resistant, composite shingles sometimes also have a specific coating that protects them from damaging UV rays, preventing the shingles from cracking. The main drawback of composite shingles is their cost, which is at least double the amount of asphalt shingles. In this article, we'll discuss if composite shingles are worth buying over standard shingles.

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What Are Composite Shingles?

Composite shingles on a residential roof

Image source: HomeSteady

Composite shingles, also known as synthetic roofing shingles or composition shingles, are made from a mixture of fiberglass, recycled paper and plastics, and asphalt. Because composite shingles are made up of recycled materials, they are considerably more environmentally friendly than asphalt shingles, which have been known to emit toxic fumes.

You can also find composite wood shakes and other roofing materials, which are usually made from recycled plastic materials. While they may not last as long as natural slate tiles or cedar shakes, composite roofing still typically features a 30-50-year warranty at a fraction of the cost.

Cost of Composite Shingles

Before labor costs, composite roof shingles can cost an average of $10 per square foot or $17,000 for a standard 1,700 square foot home. Traditional asphalt shingles can cost an average of $5 per square foot, or a little over $10,000 for a standard-sized roof. Of course, this all depends on the roof pitch, the roofers, the shingle manufacturer, and what type of shingles you buy. But you can expect to pay about double the amount for a composite roof.

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Composite Shingles vs. Asphalt Shingles

I know what you’re thinking: Composite shingles and asphalt shingles look the same but have different costs? What’s the difference? We have you covered.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles on a residential roof

Image source: Home Genius Exteriors

Asphalt shingles are some of the cheapest and most popular roofing products available today. Typically made from a combination of layers of a fiberglass mat, asphalt, and ceramic granules, asphalt shingles are durable and versatile through any type of climate. Many types of asphalt shingles, like CertainTeed's Landmark shingles, have a Class A fire rating and protect against algae growth. But despite their durability, they do require more maintenance than other roofing options. Most asphalt shingles need to be replaced or repaired every 15-20 years, which could increase roof costs and become expensive over time.

Composite Shingles

Brown composite shingles on a suburban home

Image source: Roof Genius

Composite shingles look the same but are instead made up of recycled materials, including plastics, which make them more durable as well as more environmentally and eco-friendly than asphalt shingles. Composite shingles are also less prone to peel off or crack in severe weather conditions, having a longer life expectancy of up to 50 years or more. While the materials may cost a little bit more than standard shingles, you won't have to worry about maintenance or roofing contractor fees.

Let's see how composite and asphalt shingles stack up against each other:

Shingle type

Warranty

Cost

Asphalt

15-50 years

$3 - $6 per square foot (on average)

Composite

30-50 years

$7.50 - $13 per square foot (on average)

Pros and Cons of Composite Shingles

Composite shingles being added to a residential roof

Image source: Designer Roofing

Pros of Composite Shingles

Durable - Because composite shingles are made up of recycled materials, they can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Long-lasting - It's recommended to replace asphalt shingles usually every 15-20 years, but composite shingles can last up to 50 years without any maintenance.

Environmentally friendly - Asphalt shingles are hard to recycle, containing a variety of toxic chemicals like asbestos. Composite shingles are made up of mostly plastics which are easily recycled and reused.

Eco-friendly - Composite shingles absorb UV rays, which keep your home cool and cut down energy costs.

Cons of Composite Shingles

Expensive - The main downside to composite shingles is the price, which costs at least double the amount of standard asphalt shingles.

Are Composite Shingles Worth Buying?

Complete composite shingle roof

Image source: Eclat Roofing

Sure, it's always nice to have the real thing. Whether it's real wood shingles, natural slate, or metal, the idea of having synthetic shingles or composite shake may seem unappealing. But composite shingles are an excellent alternative. While asphalt shingles dominate the market, composite shingles are becoming increasingly popular. Yes, they are more expensive than standard asphalt shingles, but they are more durable and will save you maintenance costs from installers. Sporting a new roof can increase your home's curb appeal, so why not spare the headache and install something that looks the same, performs better, and lasts longer than asphalt shingles? No matter if you've found your forever home or looking to sell in the future, composite shingles are a wise choice.

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