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Roofing Materials Comparison: Asphalt Vs. Wood Shingles

October 6, 2023
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During the search for roofing materials, the choices can be overwhelming. Among the many options available, two of the most popular choices are asphalt shingles and wood shingles. Each material has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, making it essential for homeowners to understand the differences between them before making a decision. Note that you should always ask for a roofing expert’s recommendation before deciding on any roofing material. In this article, we will compare asphalt and wood shingles in terms of durability, cost, aesthetics, and environmental impact to help you make an informed choice for your roofing needs

  • Durability

Asphalt Shingles:

Asphalt shingles are renowned for their remarkable durability, which is a key reason behind their widespread popularity among homeowners. These roofing materials are engineered to withstand a diverse array of challenging weather conditions, making them a reliable choice regardless of where you live. Whether your region experiences heavy rain, strong winds, snowstorms, or even the risk of wildfires, asphalt shingles have proven their ability to stand up to the elements. The durability of asphalt shingles is further exemplified by their resistance to fire and insect damage. They offer a robust shield against the threat of fire, providing added safety and peace of mind to homeowners.

Additionally, pests that might wreak havoc on other materials are less likely to affect asphalt shingles. This inherent resistance makes them a smart choice for areas prone to termite infestations and other wood-destroying insects. With proper maintenance and care, asphalt shingles can endure for an impressive 15 to 30 years. In fact, high-quality options often lean towards the upper end of this range, making them an investment in long-term protection for your home. This longevity can significantly reduce the frequency and cost of roof replacements, further solidifying their status as a durable and dependable roofing solution.

Wood Shingles:

Wood shingles, typically crafted from cedar or redwood, offer a unique blend of natural beauty and charm, but they come with durability considerations that differ from asphalt. While wood shingles can provide approximately 20 to 25 years of service life, they require more attention and care to maintain their longevity. One of the primary challenges faced by wood shingles is their susceptibility to environmental factors that can lead to decay. Without regular maintenance and treatments to resist rot, mold, and mildew, these shingles may deteriorate prematurely.

This means that homeowners who opt for wood shingles need to be proactive in caring for their roofs, including periodic inspections and treatments to protect against moisture-related issues. Furthermore, wood shingles are more vulnerable to insect infestations, especially if they are not adequately maintained. While cedar and redwood are naturally more resistant to pests than other wood types, ongoing vigilance and maintenance are essential to protect your investment.

  • Cost

Asphalt Shingles:

When it comes to cost-effectiveness, asphalt shingles are hard to beat. They are one of the most budget-friendly roofing materials available. Both the materials themselves and the labor required for installation are typically less expensive than their wood shingle counterparts. This affordability makes them an attractive choice for homeowners who are budget-conscious or looking for an economical roofing solution.

Wood Shingles:

In contrast, wood shingles come at a premium cost. The materials themselves are more expensive than asphalt, and the installation process can be more labor-intensive, contributing to a higher overall cost. While the initial investment is significantly greater, some homeowners are willing to pay the extra price for the natural beauty and charm that wood shingles bring to their homes.

  • Aesthetics

Asphalt Shingles:

Asphalt shingles offer a broad range of colors and styles, allowing homeowners to choose a look that complements their home's design. They can even mimic the appearance of other materials, such as slate or cedar. However, they lack the authentic and rustic charm of real wood shingles, which may be a drawback for those who prioritize aesthetics.

Wood Shingles:

One of the most significant advantages of wood shingles is their natural beauty and timeless appeal. They exude a classic, elegant look that enhances the aesthetics of a home. Over time, wood shingles weather to a silvery-gray color, adding to their character and appeal. If aesthetics are at the top of your priorities, wood shingles often win the choice.

  • Environmental Impact

Asphalt Shingles:

Asphalt shingles are petroleum-based products, and their production has an environmental impact. The manufacturing process involves the use of fossil fuels and results in emissions of greenhouse gases. Additionally, the relatively shorter lifespan of asphalt shingles, typically around 20-30 years, contributes to more frequent replacements and waste in landfills.

Wood Shingles:

Wood shingles have the potential to be more environmentally friendly, especially when sourced from sustainably managed forests. Cedar and redwood shingles are often harvested with sustainability in mind. When properly treated and maintained, wood shingles can last longer than asphalt, reducing the frequency of replacements and waste. However, it's crucial to choose certified sustainably sourced wood to minimize the environmental impact fully.


In the end, the choice between asphalt and wood shingles depends on a variety of factors, including your priorities, budget, and the specific needs of your home. If cost and durability are your primary concerns, asphalt shingles offer a cost-effective and reliable roofing solution. They can provide robust protection for your home and come in various styles and colors to match your aesthetic preferences.

On the other hand, if aesthetics and natural beauty are your top priorities, and you're willing to invest more upfront and in maintenance, wood shingles can provide a classic and timeless look that adds character to your home. Ultimately, the right choice depends on your unique circumstances and preferences.  Whether you opt for the affordability and durability of asphalt shingles or the timeless beauty of wood shingles, a well-maintained roof will protect your home and enhance its curb appeal for years to come, ensuring you make the most of your investment.

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