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Homeowners may not think much about the importance of their roof, at least not until serious weather occurs and suddenly there are leaks and other issues with which to contend. When it comes to roofing, it’s important, therefore, to be proactive. If you’re planning to replace your roof, think long term and get some input from experts. You’ve got a lot of choices, of which shingles are one option.

Shingles are by far the most popular and inexpensive roofing material. What most people don’t know is that there are actually two types of roofing shingles: Fiberglass and Organic Asphalt Shingles.

Three quarts of the homes in the United States currently use Asphalt shingles, all of which are usually under warranty for at least two decades. Organic asphalt combines felt and asphalt into its backing, making it very sturdy. They weigh more than fiberglass, and area actually more flexible despite their girth. On the down side, asphalt shingles may warp with water when continually exposed to it.

Fiberglass shingles tend to be lighter and thinner, being backed (as the name implies) with fiberglass. For every 100 square feet of roof, they only add about 100 pounds of weight. This decreases the labor involved in getting fiberglass shingles to the roof is much less. Compared to asphalt, these better withstand disasters like fire, and as a result have better guarantees.

No matter which type you choose, it’s smart to purchase shingles that conform to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

This group has been around since 1898 specifically to address product deficiencies and build a better mousetrap (so to speak). While their standards have always been voluntary, their methods have gained such respect that various levels of government now make those standards the legal requirement.

Two more shopping considerations. First, the most commonly installed shingles are called “Three Tab.” These shingles are very traditional fixtures, but not easy to install, making labor costs on them higher. By comparison, Architectural shingles are made to install easily, and any problems in the installation also show up more readily. Because of this the architectural choice usually comes with a longer guarantee.

And second is the guarantee itself. Buyer beware! Read warranties carefully. A long warranty period does not insure that you’re protected. Some, for example, exclude hail damage. That’s not good if you live in an environment with several months of winter! Know what you’re getting and what you can expect in the way of service so that your home and your wallet are protected for many years to come.

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