Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing materials in the U.S. However, are they the correct choice for an environmentally aware homeowner? Here’s how asphalt shingles can be more environmentally friendly than one might first think.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ASPHALT SHINGLE TYPES
There are two primary materials used to create asphalt shingles, organic and fiberglass.
The organic asphalt shingles use a base made out of a mix of organic materials such as cellulose, paper, or wood fibers. These shingles require more asphalt to bind them effectively and provide an element-proof seal for the roof. Older roofs often have these shingles installed, as they were the industry standard in the 1980s and earlier.
On the other hand, fiberglass shingles have a base layer of glass fibers bonded with resin. They were developed to replace asbestos in traditional shingles and require considerably less asphalt per shingle. They are also more fire-resistant due to a lack of organic material in the base, often getting higher FM fire ratings than organic shingles.
One of the main benefits of having an asphalt shingle roof is the lack of maintenance required to keep it in great shape. In addition, there’s less of a need to use harsh chemicals while installing, repairing, or replacing shingles, which prevents additional environmental disruption.
Asphalt shingles are relatively easy to install, and modern improvements have increased their energy efficiency and made them even more resistant to the elements. They also reflect sunlight well, keeping the house cooler in the summer months. Additionally, asphalt shingles can reduce the electricity bill and dissuade owners from using air conditioning containing harmful chemicals.
One of the best features of modern asphalt shingles is their recyclability. Old asphalt shingles can be recycled into other asphalt-based products, such as pavements and roads. Recycling shingles into new uses helps clear out landfills and reduce disposal costs and materials used for new products. With over 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste produced each year, recycling even a tiny portion helps minimize environmental impact.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
While older asphalt shingles contained asbestos as one of their ingredients, fiberglass-based shingles avoid it entirely. However, it’s wise to remove all old shingles when repairing or replacing an asphalt shingle roof. Previous repairs often involved removing the damaged pieces and placing a new layer of shingles on top of a pre-existing one without removing asbestos-containing shingles from the roof.
Modern recycling facilities control the intake of reclaimed asphalt shingles and dispose of asbestos products accordingly to protect the environment.
If you have any concerns about the new roof’s impact on the environment, feel free to contact East Texas Roof Works & Sheet Metal. Our technicians can guide you through all the roofing project options and provide the best materials and installation.