Bald, worn-out organic asphalt roof shingles Organic Felt Asphalt Roof Shingle Defects

  • ORGANIC FELT SHINGLE DEFECTS - CONTENTS: Types & photographs of organic felt asphalt roof shingle defects & failures. Asphalt roof shingle granule loss, photographs. Asphalt roof shingle cupping, curling, fishmouthing, photographs. Asphalt roof shingle blisters and splices, photographs
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the life expectancy & defects found on organic felt asphalt shingle roofs

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Guide to asphalt shingle roofing:

This article series explains how to identify & explain the most-common asphalt roof shingle failures and how to obtain asphalt roofing shingle failure claims assistance. These defects occur on organic-mat or fiberglass-mat asphalt roof shingles.

Common shingle failure factors include improper storage and handling of the asphalt shingles before installation, improper nailing, improper flashing (which pertains to any roofing material), and defective asphalt shingle product material leading to thermal splitting, cracking, blistering, staining, and in some cases curling or cupping shingles.

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ORGANIC FELT SHINGLE DEFECTS - Organic-mat-based Asphalt Roof Shingle Wear & Failures

Normal organic shingle edge curling with age - end of life condition shown here (C) Daniel Friedman

"Organic felt" roof shingles refers to using cellulose (paper) as the substrate on which the shingle is constructed. The cardboard or cellulose shingle mat is impregnated with hot asphalt and coated with mineral granules to form a sunlight and weather resistant upper surface. Shown above: normal end-of-life curling at the edges of an organic shingle. This roof is fragile, should not be walked-on, and is ready for replacement. Below we describe other types of wear or damage found on this type of roof shingle.

By contrast, at CRACKS in FIBERGLASS SHINGLES we discuss a previous history of thermal splitting of fiberglass-mat-based asphalt roof shingles.

Storm damage from wind and hail occur and need to be distinguished from defective asphalt shingle product or asphalt shingle installation errors.

By listing common causes of asphalt roof shingle failures and how to recognize them, building owners and roofing contractors may also be able to reduce the occurrence of asphalt roof shingle storage, handling, and installation errors that affect roof life. Readers are also invited contribute roof failure information to the web author for research purposes.

Mineral granule loss from asphalt roof shingles

Below are summary remarks, full details about asphalt shingle granule loss are at GRANULE LOSS from SHINGLES

This photograph shows severe loss of mineral granules from an asphalt shingle roof. This roof is way past needing replacement and is almost certainly leaking. Even a roof with less dramatic granule loss is showing signs of wear and reduced future life. Anywhere that a shingle has lost the protection of its mineral granules that shingle has a reduced life expectancy.

In all climates the loss of granules from an asphalt shingle or mineral-covered roll roofing roof means that area of the roof shingle has lost its protection from sunlight. In freezing climates, shingle wear may accelerate in the area of lost granules as the roof ages and is exposed to freeze thaw cycles.

Once the shingle substrate is exposed by mineral granule loss, that area of the shingle will absorb more water than its neighbors. While in this photo the roof is "worn out", there are several other conditions that can produce mineral loss on asphalt shingle roofs:

Worn asphalt shingle cracking and granule loss (C) Daniel Friedman

Worn out roof shingle (C) Daniel Friedman

Normal Age & Wear Cracking in Organic Mat Asphalt Roof Shingles

Normal but worn out roof (C) Daniel Friedman

Organic mat asphalt shingles also may show cracking and accompanying granule loss. Defective asphalt shingle products of either organic or fiberglass based shingles may experience several failures including cracking, tearing, granule loss, blistering, etc. So, splits or cracks can occur in both organic-mat based and fiberglass-mat based asphalt roof shingles.

But thermal splitting is particularly a problem with fiberglass mat based asphalt roof shingles.

Normal Asphalt Single Wear Cracking & Granule Loss

Our photos (left and below) show a badly worn organic mat asphalt roof shingle with multiple fine cracks throughout its surface. This shingle is worn-out, but the wear pattern is homogenous over the roof slope and in our opinion is a normal wear condition.

Hairline cracks appear in the (generally thicker) organic mat based asphalt roof shingles as a normal sign of aging, and normally late in the life of the roof shingles.

Our OPINION is that a variegated cracking in a somewhat random pattern over the exposed shingle surface is a common age and wear indicator found on older organic based (paper) substrate asphalt shingle roofs.

See ORGANIC FELT SHINGLE DEFECTS for other wear signs on organic mat asphalt shingles.

Worn asphalt shingle cracking and granule loss (C) Daniel Friedman

Nevertheless, fine cracks through roof shingles, regardless of cause, mean accelerating wear rate and on a roof like the one shown at left, the roof needs replacement.

But catastrophic early shingle splitting failures like the ones illustrated earlier in this article were principally a problem of lightweight, fiberglass-mat based asphalt roof shingles made during the period discussed above. Roughly, from 1992 - 1997.

Cracking due to cold weather installation & bending ridge or hip cap shingles: see RIDGE & HIP CAP SHINGLES for additional discussion of distinguishing cracking wear failures from other types of shingle failures.

Also see ASPHALT SHINGLE PROPERTIES and see Choosing an Asphalt Shingle: Organic vs. Fiberglass, Ted Cushman, The Journal of Light Construction, May 1993 for more about the debate around the advantages and disadvantages of organic mat asphalt shingles vs. fiberglass mat-based asphalt roof shingles.

Readers are also invited contribute roof failure information to the web author for research purposes. web author for research purposes.

Roof shingle fragility and damage risks

We recommend that inspectors stay off of cupped-asphalt shingle roofs, particularly in cold weather (shingles are more likely to break).

If we absolutely have to walk on a cupped shingle roof, we would tiptoe carefully, avoiding stepping on the raised or cupped shingle sections, or if doing repairs, we would prop a ladder up off of the roof surface and work from that scaffold as is sometimes done with slate or other fragile roof surface repairs.

Is Roofing Felt Underlayment Needed Under Asphalt Roof Shingles?

While the requirement for felt underlayment beneath asphalt roof shingles seems to be a topic of almost timeless argument subject to much arm-waving and little reading of manufacturer's instructions and warranties, various sources recommend or require installation of a felt underlayment over the roof deck before asphalt roof shingles are installed.

The short answer is that underlayment should be installed beneath asphalt shingles.

See UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS, ROOF - home, for complete information on this question.

Also see Choosing an Asphalt Shingle: Organic vs. Fiberglass, [PDF] Ted Cushman, The Journal of Light Construction, May 1993 for more about the debate around the advantages and disadvantages of organic mat asphalt shingles vs. fiberglass mat-based asphalt roof shingles.


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