Find the right shingle for your roof

Roofing shingles are individual overlapping segments used to protect your home by keeping your roof watertight. Shingles are commonly made out of wood, slate, asbestos-cement, asphalt, fiberglass and ceramics. Most modern houses (and houses that have had their shingles replaced recently) will have fiberglass-based shingles, as they're the most popular choice for residences in the United States.

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Types of Shingles

The type of shingles you choose for your roof can significantly alter the appearance of your home. Many different styles and colors are available.

Slate shingles have a natural beauty, but they've also got design versatility, allowing you to customize the style of the shingles used for your roof. Slate is fire-resistant and durable.

There are a couple different types of metal shingles, but the most popular are steel shingles. Steel is available in a full range of colors and is extremely durable; steel shingles commonly last at least 50 years. They can also be made to look like traditional wood shingles or slate shingles. As a roof repair alternative, consider copper; it is beautiful and 100 percent recyclable, making it a good choice for the environmentally conscious consumer.

Cedar tiles are sometimes called cedar shakes. These roof tiles are attractive, durable and long-lasting.

Asbestos shingles were popular for about 50 years because of their high fire resistance, and are still used today. However, they do require some observation and maintenance. It's very important to make sure the asbestos doesn't get damaged, which will cause it to become airborne inside the home. Repairs should only be performed by a trained professional.

Installing Roof Shingles

Throughout the years, the oils that keep your shingles water-resistant begin to soften from sun exposure. Rain can eventually erode shingles, particularly along gutters and complex rooflines. Both these effects of aging mean that all roof shingles eventually need replacing.

If you're installing roof shingles, it's best to check out a guide first to make sure you take any extra precautions and make all necessary preparations.

Before you purchase your shingles, measure the length and width of the roof to find its area. Multiply the length times the width, divide by 100 and that's how many shingle squares you'll need. It's best to purchase some extra shingles for future repairs or in case you make a mistake. You can either lay your new shingles over the old roof or pry the old shingles out and install the new ones in their place.