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Auburn Roofing: Article About How Asphalt Shingles Are Made

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Asphalt shingles are by far the most popular choice for steep slope roofs. Modern shingles are available in a huge variety of colors and styles. The finished shingles that Auburn roofing contractors can install on a home are the result of decades of research and development. The basic manufacturing process remains the same, but the materials used have advanced greatly from the early days.

All asphalt shingles begin with a layer of fibrous material known as the mat to give the shingles shape. The first mats were made of fibers from shredded rags. The resulting material was referred to as rag felt. Rag felt was very absorbent and would soak up the asphalt easily.

Due to a shortage of cloth materials during the Second World War, shingle manufacturers began using wood fibers to make the mats. This kind of felt was basically just very thick paper. It had similar absorbency to natural fibers but was still very flammable. Synthetic fibers, like polyester, were also used but they lacked the absorbent qualities of natural materials.

The big advancement in materials came with the adoption of fibrous glass as the preferred base for mats. These glass fiber mats offered several advantages over natural materials, but the two greatest were fire resistance and the fact that they never rot.

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Since the 1980s, this is how the majority of shingles have been produced.

On top of the mat, asphalt is applied to give the shingles their waterproof qualities. The asphalt used in shingles is enriched with other materials such as SBS rubber to make the shingles more resistant to impact damage and ultraviolet radiation. Filler, such as powered limestone, is added to give shingles more body and provide rigidity. Mixed with filler are colored granules, which will determine the color of the shingle.

On the bottom, another layer of asphalt has been added as the seal down layer. This part serves as the glue which secures the shingles to each other once installed. Previously, shingles required a roofer to apply a layer of adhesive as they were installed.

Finally, the last layer is known as aggregate. This rough substance gives shingles their texture. Common aggregates are ceramic pellets, sand and crushed gravel. The slight differences in the mixture of materials used in the process allow manufacturers to produce shingles that will perform well in various climates. Quality roofing contractors have the knowledge to choose shingles appropriate to their area.

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