Qualities of Organic and Fiberglass Asphalt Shingles


Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing covers used in America today. They are cost-effective and simple to install. Homeowners can choose from a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

There are two basic types, organic and fiberglass, with some common characteristics. Both types are made with asphalt or a modified asphalt material that is applied to an asphalt-saturated base. Granules made of slate, quartz, vitrified brick, schist, stone, or ceramic material are applied to the top surface. The granules are designed to block UV light, to offer some protection against other elements, and to give the product some color. The back is treated with sand, mica, or talc. There are key differences between the two types, however.


This type is made with base organic materials such as paper, wood fiber, cellulose, or similar substances. The base material is saturated with asphalt to make it waterproof. The wood- and paper-pulp based products are very resistant to tearing and extremely durable. They are also less fragile in extremely cold temperatures. They are, however, more prone to fire damage than the fiberglass type. Also, some versions produced before the early 1980’s may contain asbestos, which is a consideration if you are purchasing or remodeling an older home.


This type contains a glass fiber reinforcing mat made from wet fiberglass bonded with a urea-formaldehyde resin. An asphalt coating containing fillers is applied that to make the product waterproof. The layering and coating on this type makes it resistant to high winds and storms, and it also makes the product more resistant to degradation from water runoff over time. This type is becoming more popular since it is much more resistant to fire than the organic type. Fiberglass is also easier to work with than organic types, making it a better option for very large homes or structures.

Added Value Materials

A number of features or materials can be added to improve the quality and durability of these types of shingles. Homeowners who are in areas subject to certain weather conditions may want to consider some of these additional characteristics:

– Copper or other material can be added to the surface materials to help prevent algae growth, or zinc or copper strips can be installed for the same purpose.

– Rubberized asphalt can be added to make the product more resistant to cracks and hailstorms.

– Fabric backing on the back of the shingles can make them more resistant to impact.

In many cases, insurance companies will offer a discount on homeowner policies if some of these materials are included.


These products are relatively easy to maintain. As with any outdoor surface, it is important to keep moss and other debris off of the roof, as it can cause the material to deteriorate at a faster pace. If needed, you can use a solution with copper sulfate or zinc chloride. Clean black algae growth with a bleach solution.

Asphalt shingles are a popular choice for homeowners who want a good product at a reasonable cost. Talk with your roofing professional about the different options and styles available within your budget.