Vancouver Island'sBEST ROOF

Asphalt & Fiberglass

With an asphalt roof, you get what you pay for.

At just a few dollars per square foot installed, asphalt and fiberglass shingle roofs are the cheapest, and therefore most common, roofs on Vancouver Island.

Although an asphalt or fiberglass shingle will likely be your first choice if you’re looking to re-roof your home as cheaply as possible, this is one instance where you get what you pay for.

Modern asphalt and fiberglass shingles come with attractive warranties of 25, 30 and even 40 years. However, these warranties are generally just marketing tools that have little bearing on the actual life span of the shingles.

Even worse, these "warranties" are often pro-rated, meaning the older your roof is, the less your warranty is worth.

"There's no such thing as a 20-year asphalt shingle . . . life expectancy of these shingles can only be truly rated to three or four years. . . . We can only hope that the 2-year shingle will last five to seven years."
- Laurence Seaton, Bunnell Construction
"Letters to the Editor," Western Roofing Magazine

Buyer Beware! CBC’s marketplace exposes unethical warranties on asphalt shingles.

Asphalt shingles as a roofing material for Vancouver Island

When considering an asphalt roof for your home on Vancouver Island, there are several things to keep in mind:

Moss – Vancouver Island gets a lot of rain, fog and generally moist weather. These are perfect conditions for moss and lichens, which can flourish on your asphalt shingle roof, especially if it’s in a shaded area. As well as being an eyesore, moss holds moisture against the roof, speeding degradation and shortening the life span of your shingles.

Fire Resistance – While Vancouver Island’s winters continue to be wet and dreary, its summers are gradually becoming hotter and dryer, making forest fires a real concern. As seen with recent California wildfires, one ember landing on a flammable roof can be enough to ignite an entire neighbourhood. The fire resistance ratings of asphalt shingles run the gamut from very high to incredibly low. Buyer beware!

Environmental Concerns – Asphalt shingles are probably the least environmentally friendly roofing material on the market. They are made with petroleum, the recovery and processing of which is a major contributor to global warming. (Toxic heavy metals and hydrocarbons from the refining process can actually run off asphalt shingles when it rains.)

Asphalt shingles have some of the shortest life spans of the major roofing materials,
and since recycling facilities for asphalt shingles are rare, most end up in our landfills.
In fact, an estimated 30 billion pounds of asphalt roofing are taken to landfills every year!

Is asphalt the best roofing material for
Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands?

Probably not, unless price is your only consideration. Even then, when you consider that most asphalt shingle roofs need replacing much sooner than their warranties suggest, the true long-term cost versus a permanent roof (like concrete tile or permanent metal) can be much higher than you’d anticipated.

Even if you plan on moving in the next few years, you need to consider how your roof will affect the resale value of your home. What condition will it be in when you’re ready to sell? Will it be an asset or a liability?

In many cases, homeowners who save a buck by installing an asphalt shingle roof end up grossly discounting their home’s selling price in order to accommodate a new roof for the buyer.

If you can afford the initial investment, your likely best bet is to install a permanent metal roof, which will cost about as much as concrete tile but will never need replacing and never require maintenance.

Compare asphalt and fiberglass shingles with other roofing materials

External Links:

Asphalt Shingles (Wikipedia)

Are Asphalt Shingles Bad for the Environment?

CBC Marketplace exposé on unethical asphalt shingle warranties

Toxicity and Hydrocarbons