Composite roof essentially means asphalt shingles, sometimes called tar shingles. They’re the black shingles that have granules impregnated into them. They used to be almost all asphalt, a petroleum product. Now they are largely composed of filler materials like limestone.
However, they have been made better even with the introduction of some filler materials like limestone, they’re better than they used to be because they’ve also added things like fiberglass, matting and mesh and much better adhesives to them so that even though they don’t have as expensive core components, i.e. petroleum, they still have a much longer life expectancy than their predecessors.
They essentially come in 3 different styles. They come in 3-tab shingles which have no profile other than there are 2 cuts in a single roofing shingle being about 40 inches long and those 2 cuts give the appearance of it having 3 separate flaps and that gives you the impression that they are individual shingles. That part goes back to the wood shingle era.
The next level up from that is something called architectural shingles. These shingles simply have some profile changes so there’s a high and a low shingle in it. There are no cuts across them, but because they’re high and low profile, it gives the roof a more detailed appearance.
Then there are things that are architectural 80 or high profile shingles. These shingles weigh 4 or 5 times as much as an architectural shingle. They are extremely expensive. They have the longest warranties, but they also are by far the most expensive. That is the architectural shingle, composite shingle world.
Any person that is looking to have an honest lifespan of their roof in the 15 to 40 year lifespan should look into composite shingles. There are composite shingles that will barely get you 10 years and those are in general the 3-tab variety which are often used in new construction track housing and mobile homes. They are the least durable and they come with at times no factory warranty on material integrity.
The next level up, the architectural shingles, that’s what people should look at when they’re looking for something that’s going to last them more than 15 and less than 40 years.
Of course, that implies that they’re installed properly in all cases. The architectural 80 or high profile shingles are for pretty special cases because they are so expensive and heavy. With their weight, they cost a lot more to apply to the roof because they’re so much heavier to move around.
Probably only about less than 1% of roofs in America have those high profile shingles. They’re really just the composite shingle industry’s answer to metal roofing. Once you start getting to that price point of those composite shingles, you’re really starting to encroach on the metal roofing value proposition which is an echelon higher in price than the composite shingle value proposition.
If you’re absolutely certain that’s going to be passed down to your children and you want to have no real possibility of leaking, you should go with an aluminum metal roof. They have demonstrated lifespans of more than 50 years and predicted lifespans in the 80s to 100 year time period. They are much more expensive, however, their value proposition and their value in general is not very arguable. They are worth it if you can afford it.