Fibreglass Shingles vs. Asphalt Shingles: What Are The Best Shingles for Your Home

This post was originally published in August 2020 but has been updated in October 2022.

Shingles are by far the most common roofing type on residential homes – they are affordable, available in different colors and styles, protect your home, and can last up to 20 years. All these reasons make them a great roofing material, and most homeowners faced with roof repair or replacement choose shingles. Once you’ve decided to use roof shingles to boost your home’s curb appeal and keep it safe, you’ll need to decide what kind to install.

Fibreglass shingles vs. asphalt shingles

Fibreglass shingles are a newer product that offers homeowners another option for shingles. Technically, fiberglass shingles are a type of asphalt shingles, so traditional asphalt shingles are commonly referred to as organic asphalt shingles to help distinguish the two. Both types of shingle are made of a combination of asphalt and other granules.

Organic asphalt shingles are made from a paper material soaked in asphalt and coated by layers of asphalt and ceramic granules. Organic asphalt shingles are commonly seen on many Calgary and Edmonton homes, as they can last up to 20 years with proper installation and maintenance. The ‘organic’ in the name can cause confusion among consumers, who may believe the ‘organic’ means they are sustainable, made of natural materials. This is not the case, the ‘organic’ is just referring to the non-synthetic material they are made of, to distinguish them from fibreglass shingles.

Fiberglass shingles look identical to organic asphalt shingles, but instead of a paper-based mat on the shingle, it is made of fiberglass base. Because there is less asphalt material in these shingles, they are lighter than organic asphalt. Installation and appearance are the same for this shingle type, making it easy to change types of shingle depending on your home’s need without altering the appearance of your home.

Pros and Cons of Fibreglass Shingles

There are many advantages to this new shingle material, but it may not be right for your home depending on your budget and the climate you live in.

Advantages to fibreglass shingles:

  • Increased insulation: The layer of glass fiber increases the heat resistance of these shingles, giving them a slightly better insulating factor for your home.
  • Moisture resistance: The fiberglass layer provides additional protection over the paper-based material, sealing your home more effectively from moisture. This can be especially helpful in Edmonton and Calgary climates to protect your home from rain, snow and ice.
  • Fire resistance: The fiberglass in the shingle replaces the paper-based material in organic asphalt shingles, making these a better choice for fireproofing.
  • Strength: Although fiberglass shingles are thinner and lighter than organic asphalt shingles, a high-quality product can last 20 years or more, as they won’t dry out or change their shape. Roofing brands like IKO, BP, and Owens Corning fibreglass shingles, used by the professionals at A. Clark Roofing & Siding, offer industry-leading warranty and coverage to protect your investment.
  • Value: Even though they are thinner and use less asphalt, fiberglass shingles typically cost the same as organic shingles but last longer so have better value.
  • Environmental Impact: Funnily enough, fiberglass shingles are better for the environment than organic asphalt shingles. They are easier to transport because of their lighter weight and utilize less asphalt in their construction and design. And fibreglass shingles are still recyclable for use as other construction material.
  • Innovation: Using new technology with better quality seals on your shingles or other patented ideas such as Owens Corning’s SureNail © Technology have helped to not only counter possible disadvantages such as having lighter or thinner shingles and even to improve on things like wind resistance.

Disadvantages to fibreglass shingles:

  • Wind: Although being thinner and lighter can be an advantage, it also means that fiberglass shingles are more likely to blow off in severe wind or during a storm. Product choice is very important because as mentioned under innovation there are some products that have improved their wind and storm resistance.
  • Cold: The increased amount of asphalt in organic shingles makes them more durable and able to stand up to cold climates, while extreme low temperatures can make the fiberglass brittle. This can make it sensitive to install or repair roofs when the weather is cold.
  • Durability: Because they are not as heavy and rugged, fiberglass shingles are often not as durable.
  • Appearance: The appearance of fiberglass shingles may diminish over time, as the alkaline materials in the shingle can attract algae, which may give the shingles a dirty appearance.

Fibreglass shingles installation, repair and maintenance in Calgary and Edmonton.  

Both shingle types look very similar, contain asphalt and granules, and are installed the same way. If you’re not sure which option is best for your home, consult a professional to learn more and make the most of your investment.

It’s important to keep in mind that no matter what type of shingle you choose for your home, the durability, protection and longevity of your roof depends on the quality of the product and the installation. The professionals at A. Clark Roofing & Siding have been trusted by Albertan homeowners since 1953 and can lend their expertise to your roofing project. Reach out for a free no-contact quote for your asphalt shingle needs today. 

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