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Longmont Roofing: Article About The Materials Used In Shingles

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A roof represents only about 4 percent of a home's cost, but it's the most important structure when it comes to protecting a home from rain and sun damage. Shingle makers have perfected the design of shingles over the years, but the key ingredient in the modern composite shingle, asphalt, has been a building material for thousands of years. The ancient Babylonians used its natural water repellent property to help waterproof their canals and buildings, and it was the primary material used to make the prototype of modern shingles, a product called roll roofing.

Asphalt is inexpensive, lightweight and contains natural petroleum oils that cause water to bead up and slide off rather than soak through, but it isn't completely waterproof. Shingle roofs must be built with a fairly steep slope so that gravity can help the shingles repel water to the storm gutters, and a Longmont roofing contractor should have expert knowledge of gutter and shingle installation to prevent foundation settlement issues.

Asphalt shingles are called composite shingles because they're made of several layers of materials pressed into a thin, tough, flexible sheet that may be tabbed or laminated for added durability and visual appeal.

The roofing contractor experts at Colorado Roof Toppers of Longmont CO can assist you with questions about flashing or commercial roofing.

Many different materials have been tried over the years to perfect the design of the modern shingle. The first shingles were made from wood, cellulose, paper or cotton and had most of the properties of today's shingles, but because they were made from organic materials, they were much more combustible.

To provide texture for the outer asphalt layer, many additives were mixed with the asphalt before being compressed. Manufacturers tried materials such as fragments of brick, concrete, clay and even crushed up oyster shells. For the felt substrate, materials such as plant fiber, wood pulp and asbestos were used, and during the 1920s, the most common ingredient was cotton rag, which was inexpensive at the time.

For the last several decades, the most common and effective felt substrate has been fiberglass matting, which is manufactured in a process similar to paper production. Tiny filaments of glass are mixed with water so that they become evenly distributed, and then the water is vacuumed out. An adhesive is added to the fiberglass, which is pressed into a thin sheet and allowed to cure.

Fiberglass provides a highly durable, flexible and flame-resistant substrate for composite shingles, and it's safer for people and the environment than asbestos felt. Asphalt shingles are designed to last 20 to 80 years, but eventually the natural oils wash out, causing them to shrink and become brittle.

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