Knowing the ins and outs of how certain products or items in our lives work can be valuable for both curiosity and practical reasons alike, and this is especially true within important home systems like your roof. One particular roof component that many home or building owners typically wonder about in this vein: Their shingles. What exactly are shingles, and how are they made?
At The Roof Doctor, we’re here to help with numerous residential roofing services, with expert roofing staff who are always happy to go over product specifications or other important details with you. Starting with their earliest manufacturing phase and running all the way to when they’re installed on your home or any other building, here’s a look inside the process of how asphalt shingles are made.
In most cases, the first major stage of manufacturing for asphalt shingles will involve a sheet of fiberglass membrane. This sheet might be made from straight fiberglass, or it could originate from certain organic fibers like wood chips, cardboard and paper. In either case, these materials come in large rolls that are unrolled to create individual products.
The purpose of this membrane is to give the shingle base an appropriate amount of thickness and reinforcement — in effect, creating a more durable foundation that can withstand weathering, wear and tear over time. This membrane will eventually sit beneath the shingle and weatherproof coating to come.
It’s meant to bring not only a strong base, but also protection from several threats. It’s a key player in fire resistance, for example, and it also protects against wind damage by filling any gaps or holes that might open up in the shingle’s foundation over time.
Once the membrane has been laid out and cut to the proper size required for your shingles, it will be covered with hot asphalt. This is similar to standard asphalt pavement, and it will be spread over the membrane in order to create a solid, weatherproof foundation for the shingles.
For those unaware, asphalt is a semi-solid form of petroleum that is mixed with stone and sand to create a more durable composite. Given how it’s made of natural materials, asphalt can be seen as something akin to a renewable resource — depending on the exact source used during manufacturing.
When applied to the shingle foundation, this asphalt layer will also serve as an adhesive that holds everything together. It provides plenty of protection against common shingle threats like early clogging or weathering, and it also bolsters the bond that holds the rest of the asphalt shingle together.
In some cases, additional ingredients will be added to the asphalt layer as it’s being poured on the membrane. These ingredients may have a few purposes, but one of the most common is increasing fire resistance through the use of fire retardants. Natural ingredients like limestone or calcium carbonate are often at play here, and they help to keep the asphalt layer from catching fire under most normal circumstances.
As the asphalt is still being poured onto the membrane and its heat remains high, granules will be pressed into the asphalt itself during the cooling process. These granules usually refer to small pebbles or stones, and they come in several different colors.
Granules serve several purposes, including providing another form of protection to the shingle. They will usually provide resistance against common weathering threats like sun or wind damage, and they can also help counteract some very common forms of damage from things like rain or water pooling. Some are even specifically designed to resist algae growth or other forms of contamination. In addition, granules are added to help the shingle surfaces from sticking to one another during packaging.
Of course, granules are also meant to offer aesthetic appeal. When you see a roof with shingles, this is one of the first things you’ll notice — a coating of small pebbles. The color and appearance of these granules can vary greatly depending on who makes them, but they’re typically meant to complement the rest of your roof and home design in some way or another.
Once the full shingle has been created, it will then be cut into single shingles. These usually measure 12 inches by 36 inches, though some may be slightly longer or shorter than this depending on the company.
In some cases, shingles will be packaged together in groups to make it easier for those working with them during installation. It’s also common to use separate packaging materials in order to keep individual shingles from sticking together and creating a mess when they’re being removed.
The job is not finished once a shingle has been cut and packaged, however. In order to be effective and long-lasting, a roofing material like asphalt shingles must always be installed the right way.
Basically, this means ensuring that there are no gaps between each individual shingle when they’re being lined up next to one another. Shingle spacing can be checked through use of a chalk line, and the shingles must also be held into place with nails that don’t penetrate too far.
This is one of many areas where our team at The Roof Doctor can help — we have years of experience when it comes to installing shingles the right way, and we can apply this expertise to making sure your roof is well-protected. For more information on shingles or any other roofing systems, contact us today!