Asphalt Shingles: Pros and Cons, Lifespan, Cost, and More

Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing materials in North America. They offer an affordable option for homeowners that provides good protection for your home. However, asphalt shingles also have some downsides to consider before installing them on your roof. We’ll look at the pros and cons of asphalt shingles, typical lifespan and costs, and help you decide if they are the right choice for your roof.

Pros of Asphalt Shingles

  • Affordable: Asphalt shingles are one of the most budget-friendly roofing materials. They provide a low upfront cost that fits many homeowner’s budgets.
  • Easy installation: Asphalt shingles can be installed quickly by roofing contractors. Their light weight also puts less stress on the roof deck.
  • Variety of options: Asphalt shingles come in a wide range of colors and styles. You can choose a dimensional or architectural shingle to give more visual appeal.
  • Fire resistant: Asphalt shingles are Class A fire rated. The asphalt and roofing fibers provide fire resistance.
  • Impact resistant: The composition of asphalt shingles allows them to hold up well to hail and other impacts. They are a good choice in areas prone to storms.
  • Wide availability: As one of the most popular roofing materials, asphalt shingles are readily available from local roofing supply stores. Finding contractors experienced with installing them is easy.

Cons of Asphalt Shingles

  • Shorter lifespan: The average lifespan of asphalt shingles is 15-20 years. This is shorter than other roofing materials like metal or slate that can last over 50 years.
  • Vulnerable to weathering: The asphalt binder in shingles can become brittle and crack over time as it’s exposed to sun, heat, and cold temperatures. Regular replacement of shingles may be needed.
  • Not recyclable: Once asphalt shingles are removed from a roof at the end of their lifespan, they typically end up in landfills. Asphalt cannot be recycled.
  • Oil-based: Asphalt shingles are an oil-based product. This raises environmental concerns for some homeowners.
  • Heavier than other materials: Asphalt shingles add considerable weight to a roof structure. This limits options for buildings that can’t support the additional load.
  • Lower resale value: The short lifespan and lower durability of asphalt shingles may make a home less attractive to buyers. Higher-end roofing materials can increase resale value.

Asphalt Shingle Lifespan

The average lifespan of asphalt shingles is 15-20 years. However, a number of factors can shorten or extend this lifespan:

  • Climate – In very hot or very cold climates, the lifespan is often at the lower end around 15 years. Moderate climates can achieve 20 years or longer.
  • Roof slope – Steeper roof pitches allow faster drainage and less wear, increasing lifespan. Shallow pitches can decrease to 10-15 years.
  • Quality – Higher quality architectural or premium shingles last 20-25 years, while basic 3-tab shingles average 15 years.
  • Installation – Proper installation according to manufacturer specifications improves longevity. Poor installation can lead to early failure.
  • Ventilation – Good attic ventilation regulates temperatures and moisture, extending shingle life. Poor ventilation can cause curling and deterioration.
  • Maintenance – Keeping your roof clear of debris and replacing damaged shingles helps prevent leaks and early wear.

Asphalt Shingle Costs

Asphalt shingle costs include:

  • Shingles – Budget 3-tab shingles cost $80-100 per square (100 sq ft). Architectural shingles run $120-150 per square. Premium styles can be over $200.
  • Labor – Installation averages $150-200 per square. The total roof size and pitch complexity affect costs.
  • Roof tear-off – Removing existing shingles adds $100-150 per square. Dump fees for tear-off waste also apply.
  • Flashing and vents – New flashing, vents, edging can add several hundred to a thousand dollars or more.
  • Total install – The total cost to install asphalt shingles on a simple ranch style home averages $350-450 per square. More complex roofs run $500 or more per square.

Should You Choose Asphalt Shingles?

Asphalt shingles make a good choice for homeowners looking for an affordable, low maintenance roofing option. They offer plenty of styles and colors to suit most homes. Just be aware that their shorter lifespan will require re-roofing in 15-20 years. Homeowners wanting a longer-lasting roof may want to consider other materials like metal, slate or tile despite their higher upfront costs. But for those on a budget, asphalt shingles remain one of the best values available for residential roofing. With proper installation and care, they will protect your most valuable asset, your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main pros of asphalt shingles?

The main pros of asphalt shingles are their affordability, easy installation, variety of styles and colors, fire resistance, impact resistance, and wide availability.

What are the biggest downsides to asphalt shingles?

The biggest downsides are their shorter lifespan compared to other roofing materials, vulnerability to weathering, lack of recyclability, and adding weight to the roof.

How long do asphalt shingles typically last?

The average asphalt shingle lifespan is 15-20 years. Higher quality shingles can last 20-25 years, while low-end ones average 15 years or less. Proper installation and maintenance also affect longevity.

What factors can decrease the lifespan of asphalt shingles?

Extreme weather, low roof slope, poor ventilation, low-quality materials, and improper installation can all decrease the lifespan of asphalt shingles.

What does it cost to install asphalt shingles?

The total cost averages $350-450 per square for simple roof structures. More complex roofs can exceed $500 per square installed. The specific roof size, pitch, and location affect costs.

Are asphalt shingles a good choice for my home?

Asphalt shingles make an excellent choice if you want an affordable, attractive roof but understand their shorter lifespan. Homeowners wanting a longer-lasting roof may prefer other materials despite higher upfront cost.


Weighing the pros and cons of asphalt shingles can help you decide if they are the right fit for your roofing needs. Their affordability and availability make them a top choice for many homeowners. Just account for their shorter lifespan and higher replacement frequency. With proper installation and care, asphalt shingles can protect your home for years before it’s time to re-roof.