portland home with skylight on asphalt shingle roof and gray siding

Are Shingles A Good Roofing Material In Portland?

Posted By Gabe Callaway

Asphalt shingles are considered the most common roofing material in the country and for a good reason. The material is the safest bet on almost every home. Most roofing companies, if not all, are also familiar with installing these shingles. Asphalt shingles strike a balance between cost-effectiveness, easy installation, and a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

So if you’re considering asphalt shingle roofing for your Portland home– let’s discuss everything you need to know to determine if it’s the right choice for your home needs.

Why are Asphalt Shingle Roofs the Most Popular Choice?

The popularity of asphalt shingle roofs is partly because of their versatility. Asphalt shingles are created with a fiberglass mat, asphalt layer, and a layer of granules. Typically, it is manufactured by spraying hot asphalt on a fiberglass mat and applying the granules. Once it is pressed, rolled, and cooled– the material bonds together. Asphalt roofs have a decent fire rating and can stand different weather extremes. This roofing material is suitable for different climates, whether in Portland or other parts of the country.

side view of portland home with new siding and shingle roof

Here’s a quick rundown of the most critical considerations to consider, along with the advantages and disadvantages of asphalt shingle roofs for your Portland home.


  • A versatile material in all climates
  • Suitable with most homes
  • Cost-effective
  • Durable given proper maintenance
  • Not the most energy-efficient roofing material


  • Requires high maintenance
  • May not complement old or rustic homes
  • Will need replacement after 20 to 25 years
  • Not known as the most eco-friendly

Like every other roofing material, asphalt shingles also have their fair share of drawbacks. The material isn’t known to last as long as other shingles in regions with regular temperature fluctuations. Not to mention, the shingles are prone to cracking or warping too. The material is also not recommended on roofs with a steeper slope.

Other Types of Shingles to Consider for Your Portland Home

Asphalt shingles aren’t the only option in choosing shingles for your residential roofing needs. Below, we discuss the different shingle types for you to consider.

Fiberglass Shingles

True to its name, fiberglass shingles are created with a fiberglass base. Several layers are then overlain to be bound with an adhesive. Then, the material is coated with asphalt (made with different mineral fillers) to give it a waterproof seal.

What we love about fiberglass shingles:

  • Durable
  • Fire-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • It has a longer warranty
  • More resistant to UV damage
  • Slightly more expensive than traditional asphalt shingles but still cost-effective

Organic Shingles

Another option to consider is organic shingles. These are commonly created from recycled materials such as old cardboard, paper, rags, and wood chips. It is also an inexpensive shingle roofing material, but it’s notorious for being saturated and accumulating moisture. As a result, it may lead to different problems, especially in areas with freezing temperatures or high humidity levels.

Saturation and moisture may cause the shingles to degrade and deteriorate even before 20 years of good use, which is their average life expectancy. You’ll find that it’s common for Portland homeowners to replace organic shingles with fiberglass material instead.

Three-tab Asphalt Shingles

Another roof shingle type to consider is the three-tab shingles. Most contractors in Portland specify some asphalt-based shingle roofing material as “three-tab” since they are composed of three individual tabs measuring a foot wide.

The material is considerably inexpensive yet thin. But, they are surprisingly long-lasting (up to 30 years) given proper maintenance.

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are the most environment-friendly shingle type you can consider. The material is also known to be long-lasting, for up to 50 years. You can purchase either cedar or redwood shingles, which are both durable and energy-efficient.

  • Cedarwood shingles are an attractive option for homes in the Portland area, especially if you want your home to exude a country or cottage aesthetic. The material has a unique look throughout its lifespan– changing from golden brown to a rustic silver/grey when aged.
  • Redwood shingles offer superior weather protection and an inviting, rustic appeal to your Portland home. It is usually made from sawn wood tiles with smooth back and front sides.

The downside? Wood shingles are the most prone to catching fire compared to other shingle types. You will also need to follow necessary precautions so it won’t be damaged by mold or termites so soon.

In most cases, wood shingles are repaired when cracked, warped, or missing. Instead, your contractor may opt to replace the wood shingles, as fixing them will only be costly and troublesome.

What we love about wood shingles:

  • Eco-friendly, renewable roofing material
  • Resistant to Portland weather
  • Classic, stunning aesthetic
  • High thermal efficiency

Slate or Tile Shingles

Some historic homes and buildings in the Portland area were made using natural slate or tile roofs for their architectural style. The material is known to be long-lasting, but it is also notably heavy to work with compared to other roof types. It is also more prone to chipping and cracking and may be challenging to repair.

Natural slate and tile shingle roofing materials are readily available if you want period-accurate materials in your Portland home. But, you may also consider alternatives such as manufactured tile or slate. They take on the same appearance but make the installation more accessible and cheaper.

Important Note: Both options are considered the most labor-intensive and expensive shingle materials.

What we love about tile or slate shingles:

  • Long-lasting
  • Period-correct addition to historic homes

What are the Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles?

Now that we’ve covered the different shingle roofing types, we’ll revert to asphalt shingles as the primary shingle material for clarity. As previously mentioned, asphalt roof shingles are increasingly widespread thanks to their cost-effectiveness and reliability.

If you’re still on the fence about using asphalt shingles for your residential roofing needs, let’s take a detailed look at its pros and cons.

The Good: Pros of Asphalt Shingles for Your Portland Home Roofing Needs

Why do Portland homeowners continue to use asphalt shingles for their roofing needs? Well, here are a few benefits to consider.

  • Affordable: Asphalt roofing in Portland starts from $7 to $9 per square foot, depending on the roof size and material quality. The material is a crowd-favorite choice among many homeowners mainly due to its affordability. Since they can protect your Portland home for 7 to 15 years given proper installation, its cost-effectiveness outweighs the long-term protection offered by more expensive, premium materials.
  • Effective: Asphalt shingles won’t be as durable and long-lasting as other roofing materials (cedar shakes, clay tiles, and metal) for your home in Portland. Regardless, you can count on them to provide adequate protection. If you combine its satisfactory performance at a low price point, it’s no wonder why more homeowners choose it for their roofing projects.
  • Available in a variety of colors and styles: Generally, you can choose from two asphalt shingles: organic or fiberglass. Both materials are coated with asphalt to make them waterproof. The fiberglass type is made with a thin glass fiber mat, while organic asphalt shingles are made from a specific wood product– such as waste paper.
  • Easy Installation: This isn’t to say that asphalt shingles don’t need the skill to be properly installed. However, the material only requires less specialized training than other roofing types. Your contractor can quickly finish the installation in as little as 1 to 2 days, depending on the project’s scope and if you need old shingles removed.
  • Some are made with unique features: Some asphalt shingles are designed better than others. For instance, the Highlander Nex AR is made to be algae-resistant and highly durable even in extreme weather conditions. The Legacy Scotchguard shingle line also boasts granule embedment and a 110-mile wind warranty. Additionally, all of these options are said to reduce pollution in the air, and it is made from recycled materials. This makes it easier for you to be a green, sustainable homeowner!

The Bad: Cons of Asphalt Shingles for Your Portland Home Roofing Needs

Of course, asphalt shingles also have their drawbacks to consider carefully. Here are the most common ones:

  • Vulnerability to wind uplift: As commonly observed in cheaper asphalt shingles, some materials are more vulnerable to damage brought by strong winds. These shingles may easily detach and may cause leaks in your roof.
  • Prone to cracks: Given the lightweight material, some asphalt shingles may crack easily once exposed to frequent fluctuations in the temperature. Extreme temperatures can cause the shingle to expand and contract, leading to cracks. Also, excessive heat may just push your asphalt shingles to crack.
  • Must be installed in warm temperatures: We strongly advise against installing asphalt shingles during the winter, during below-freezing temperatures. It’s best to install the material during warmer months instead to avoid damage.
  • No unique appearance and look: Asphalt shingles may not be your best bet if the aesthetic appeal is your main priority in a new Portland roof. They aren’t exactly unique, although they don’t affect your property’s curb appeal in a negative light. Using asphalt shingles won’t help make your home stand out from the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. You may be better off using wood shingles or shakes for that instead.
  • Not as long-lasting as other materials: Asphalt shingles are cheaper, lighter, and slightly more vulnerable to damage– asphalt shingles do not last as long as other roofing options for your Portland home.

There you have it! Since we’ve discussed the pros and cons of using asphalt shingles for your Portland home, ensure to keep the key points in mind as you decide.

Choosing the Best Asphalt Shingle for Your Portland Roof

When selecting the shingles for your roof, you have three main options. The 3-tab shingles are considered the most basic and affordable option—a lightweight shingle with a fiberglass base and mineral granules that will last for around 20 years. An architectural shingle is a slightly more costly alternative that combines two layers of shingle. Aside from its premium durability, architectural shingles also provide an elevated appearance to the roof.

Because of its 3D effect with varying patterns and tones, architectural shingles are more aesthetically pleasing but a bit more expensive. It can also imitate the looks of other shingles, such as wood or slate. Architectural shingles are also more weatherproof compared to 3-tab shingles.

Lastly, there’s the luxury shingle, a shingle style meant to appear like natural slate but at a more affordable price range.

Which Underlayment Is the Best Option?

You’ll need to consult with your Portland roofers to determine the best of two underlayment options for your new shingle roof. Usually, this entails deciding whether to use synthetic or felt paper underlayment as the base layer of material on top of the roof deck but underneath your new shingles.

Unfortunately, the felt paper option is much more likely the ones used during art class, which tends to tear apart easily. It is also not the best option against the wet climate of Portland, OR, because it does not stand up well to rain.

The more popular choice for Portland roofers is synthetic underlayment. To reduce wear, fiberglass is woven into the fabric, and it performs considerably better in the weather. Although this improvement comes at a higher cost, the benefits make it worthwhile.

Overall Verdict: Are Shingles Roofs Good for Portland Homes?

Asphalt shingles are an excellent starter choice if you want nothing but the best roofing material for your Portland home. It’s the most commonly used roof material for plenty of good reasons. Compared to other materials, it has a relatively affordable price range. If you’re working on a budget, this is your safest bet! The material also comes in various style options, from granular to colored ones.

Note that asphalt shingles aren’t as durable and long-lasting as their counterparts. However, it serves as a great middle-ground and can still last you long years given proper maintenance and upkeep.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are asphalt shingles so popular?

Some excellent reasons why asphalt shingle roofs continue to soar in popularity are: they are available in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and thickness, they are durable, they can be maintained and repaired and lastly, they can resist fire.

How long will an asphalt roof last?

Generally, asphalt roofs can last up to 20 years, but your property’s environment will also determine its lifespan. If there’s moss or fungus growth or tree debris left lying around for long, this may just cut the lifespan of your asphalt roof.


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