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Shingles are something a lot of us take for granted until suddenly they stop working right. They’re a huge part of the integrity of your roof as a shelter from the elements. Small leaks become huge problems for your comfort and for your check book when the damage starts to set in. The right shingles can improve your roof and they can make it more durable and trustworthy. Not to mention there’s the aesthetic element that goes into picking the right shingles for your home.

Asphalt and wood shingles are among the most common materials used for lining roofs.

But they have their pros and cons. There are differences in looks, differences in functions, and a lot of it is going to depend on what you need out of your shingles.

Wood shake shingles are made from thick cuts of wood while asphalt shingles are made from composite materials layered onto what is normally a cloth base. They’re instantly recognizable and very obviously different. We’ve outlined those differences below.


As a rule, asphalt is going to perform better in wet or damp climates. Wood shingles are susceptible to mold and mildew growth in excessive humidity or all out rainy seasons. Because of the material and style of construction on the asphalt shingles, they are better to survive long periods in the rain. Their flush adhesion to the roof also makes them less likely to be damaged precipitation or even debris. Though they have been known to tear in high winds.

Life Expectancy

This is not a one size fits all question. The make of your asphalt and wood shingles as well as the installation process is going to be a huge factor in how long they’ll survive. Generally speaking, 30 years is a solid and expected life range for both wood and asphalt. However, the chemical treatments on the wood can help them last longer while, untreated, can lower their longevity.


It’s not something you may think about nor something you even want to think about. But it could be a factor. One obvious danger to wooden shingles is that they are going to be a lot more flammable than asphalt shingles. In fact, you may want to check with the local fire department on the fire codes in your neighborhood because some don’t even allow wooden shingles in certain areas. Though some do come with chemical treatment for fire retardant, it’s still going to be a factor to keep in mind.

Related Questions

What is the Price Difference?

As a rule, wooden shake is one of the most expensive options for your roof, with prices varying. They can max out at over $10 per square foot. Asphalt shingles will cost half of that for installation usually maxing out at $6 per square foot. Make sure to get estimates from a trusted roofing contractor. There’s also the lifetime maintenance to keep in mind. Wood is going to cost you more in upkeep.

Which Style Works Best for My Home?

That’s important. While asphalt is the default for virtually every home because of how well it matches, wood can enhance certain home styles. Again, if you’re in a damp or humid climate, wood shake can be a mold hazard. But colonial and tudor style homes would both be upgraded by a wood shake accent. At the same time, both styles work great with asphalt as well.

Ultimately there are cost, safety, and aesthetic reasons to choose either and it will ultimately come down to your own person needs and the state of your home and environment. In most cases, you really can’t go wrong with either choice. But now you’ve got some information to take in with you before you make a decision.

An efficient roof system installed by a licensed professional starts with a call to a trusted Contractor. 180 Contractors is a Michigan based full-service home improvement and home remodeling company. Our residential construction services include roof installation, new window replacement, home insulation, siding, entry doors, exterior home improvements, custom decks as well as any additional general construction requirements.

When you call 180 Contractors we will start with a complimentary roof inspection and evaluation of your current roof and determine the best plan of action for your needs like a maintenance plan, repair, or whole new system. Call us today for a Free Onsite Estimate!

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