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Fiberglass vs. Asphalt Shingles: A Comparison Guide

Posted on June 15, 2024

Estimated Reading Time : 4 Min.

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Fiberglass vs. Asphalt Shingles: A Comparison Guide

Asphalt shingles are one of the safest choices when it comes to materials for a roof replacement. Most homeowners know about them and they remain a top choice. However, you have to choose between an organic asphalt shingle roofing system and fiberglass roofing shingles. 

Both systems come in many color and style variants and are made partially of asphalt, which can make them seem identical. But there are a few factors that make them different. In this blog post, we have compared both roofing systems to provide better insights into their pros and cons, including all essential factors like cost, maintenance, and durability.

What are Asphalt Shingles?

Asphalt roofing shingles, also known as organic asphalt shingles, are made of a thin felt covered by an asphalt mixture. The manufacturers then add another coating on the shingle to ensure waterproofing. Asphalt roofing shingles are among the most reputable shingle options on the market and have a modern look.

You might also like: 10 Best Asphalt Shingles for Residential Roofing

What is a Fiberglass Roofing System?

Fiberglass roofing systems, also known as composite shingles, are similar to organic asphalt shingle roofs. However, some differences make fiberglass roofing distinctive. This material consists of fiberglass base mats and an asphalt coating. Fiberglass shingles have less asphalt in their construction compared to organic shingles. 

Comparative Guide: Fiberglass vs. Asphalt Shingles

Below is a comparative analysis of both roofing systems based on various factors, although both roof types have similar genes.

Fiberglass Vs. Asphalt Shingles

Cost

Considering the initial cost of the roof installation and ongoing maintenance costs is crucial before selecting any roofing type. 

The initial installation price of fiberglass roofing systems is between $3 and $5 per square foot, depending on the quality of the shingles. On the other hand, the initial installation of an asphalt shingle roof costs, on average, between $4 to $8 per square foot. 

Cost of Repairs

The potential repair cost of a fiberglass roofing system is higher than that of organic asphalt shingle roofing systems, as the material used is more expensive. However, shingle roofs generally sustain similar types of damage, no matter the material. The cost to replace missing or broken shingles can cost between $100 and $300, while fixing a leak may extend over $1,000. 

The repair costs of both shingles can be reduced if you don’t hire any external service and opt for a DIY approach. 

Durability 

Apart from the cost, durability is probably the biggest factor that will influence the type of roofing material you select for your roof replacement project. 

Lifespan

The fiberglass roofing system can last 30–35 years and if maintained properly, it can even last 40 years. 

On the other hand, organic asphalt shingles have a comparatively shorter lifespan of 20–35 years. So, a fiberglass roofing system is a better choice if longevity is a priority. 

However, in areas prone to harsh climatic conditions, organic asphalt shingle roofs add more weight because they use more asphalt, which makes them heavier and more durable in strong winds and hail storms.

Wind Resistance

Traditional asphalt roofing shingles are made of an asphalt mixture base with felt sheets, so they are comparatively heavier and can resist damage from winds and storms. Alternatively, fiberglass roofing shingles are lighter and can be affected by strong winds. So, if you live in an area prone to storms, traditional asphalt shingles are a better alternative. 

Fire Resistance

The material used in organic asphalt roofing shingles is prone to catching fire; the asphalt granules and the base are not resistant to fire.

However, most fiberglass roofing shingles come with a Class A fire rating. This rating is the highest achievable, which indicates the material can resist fire even when exposed to direct flames.

Environmental Impact

Both asphalt roofing shingles and fiberglass roofing systems are made from asphalt, and asphalt bases contain materials that can pollute air and water during production. Organic asphalt roofing shingles use more asphalt than fiberglass roofing systems.

Plus, traditional asphalt shingles are not as energy efficient after installation as they are prone to absorbing more heat, whereas fiberglass roofing shingles can reflect UV rays and warmth from the sun. 

Complexity of the Installation Process

An organic asphalt shingle roofing system is heavier than fiberglass shingles and can be complex and challenging to install.

Although asphalt roofing shingles don’t require specialized skills for installation, if you replace your roofing shingles on your own, there are higher chances of mistakes.

Maintenance

No matter which roofing material you choose, maintenance is a factor you need to consider. To avoid heavy repair costs, every roof type requires regular maintenance and inspections, especially if you live in an area with severe climatic conditions, such as extreme cold or hot temperatures. 

One maintenance tip for both fiberglass and organic asphalt shingles is to clean the roof regularly to avoid mold and algae growth. If unaddressed, mold and algae can weaken the shingles and cause leaks and water damage. However, both asphalt and fiberglass shingles are now available in algae-resistant versions for better durability. 

Also Read: How Long Does It Take For Asphalt Shingles To Seal

Final Thoughts

When planning to install a new roof, you must always check the quality of the materials and the contractor’s expertise. A minor mistake during installation can lead to a high repair cost in the future. 

While fiberglass shingles require minimal maintenance, homeowners must ensure they remain in superior condition. Clear gutters and downspouts are essential for proper water drainage and damage prevention. Regular roof cleaning is mandatory, but avoid pressure washing as it can strip away shingle granules and cause damage. Installing a zinc strip near the roof peak can prevent algae and moss growth, especially in humid areas. Annual professional inspections are recommended to detect potential issues at an early stage. 

Keep track of the lifespan of your chosen shingle type and style, and pay attention to visible signs such as curling or warping that indicate they need replacement.

Call Us For Shingle Installation Services! 

Both organic asphalt shingles and fiberglass roofing shingles have pros and cons; the option you choose depends on your requirements and personal preferences.

If you’re looking for roof replacement or roof installation services for your home or building, your search ends here! At RST Roofing & Renovations, we have a team of highly experienced roofing professionals. 

With years of experience and knowledge in the roofing industry, we are renowned for our excellent customer service and expertise. Our timely and exceptional services make us one of Atlanta’s most trusted roofing and exterior contractors. 

Book a free consultation with our experts today. Call us at (404) 548-8901 to discuss all your residential roofing needs.

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