Organic and fibreglass shingles look the same. They’re both made from asphalt and granules. They’re installed exactly the same way too. But the layer of glass fibre makes fibreglass shingles absorb less moisture and be more resistant to heat, which increases their durability in a warm climate. Fibreglass shingles usually hold up better if a roof has poor ventilation. This can make some homeowners want to choose fibreglass — a kind of Band-Aid solution for a poorly vented roof. But I say fix the ventilation. Proper ventilation means the temperature difference is minimised between the attic and air outside. This prolongs the life of your roof. It also eliminates moisture that can get trapped inside the attic. If moisture stays there, it can lead to rot and mould. Building code varies from city to city. But my roofing guys like to keep one square foot of venting for every 300 square feet of roofing.
There are plenty of different shingle products out there. Most homeowners choose based on their budget. But like everything else, you get what you pay for. Compared with other shingle materials, asphalt is inexpensive. That makes them popular. Most roofs — about four out of five homes in North America — have them. But they’re not as durable as other types of shingles. Cedar shingles and cedar shakes are among the most expensive roofing materials you can choose. These are the real “organic” shingles and they can be composted. Why are they expensive? Partly because of the material itself — cedar looks and smells great. But labour and installation costs are also high. Installation is slow because each cedar shingle is nailed to the roof, usually by hand. It’s also high maintenance. It’s best to keep a wood roof as dry as possible, even if it’s cedar. And you might also need to add a fire deterrent. But keep in mind: Time and weather will reduce its performance. Some fibreglass shingles come with a 50-year warranty. They’re also more fire-resistant than organic. Laminated or architectural shingles are thicker, making them more durable than regular asphalt shingles.