Published on January 2, 2023 by Jason Reisman

What Are Roof Shingles Made Of?

Learn more about your roof material options by calling Eustis Roofing in Leesburg, FL, at 352-343-4240

At Eustis Roofing, we’ve been offering roofing services since 1959, and customers often ask, “What are roof shingles made of?” When most people ask this question, they mean asphalt shingles, North America’s most popular choice of roofing material. 

Homes and businesses with sloped roofs often opt for asphalt shingles because of their affordability and attractive appearance. Asphalt roofs look great on structures from modern businesses to hundred-year-old homes.

Let’s delve into this common roofing question and explore what asphalt roof shingles are made of. Once you understand this prominent roofing material option, contact our shingle roof contractors in Leesburg for a free quote.


What Are Asphalt Roof Shingles Made Of?

The process of creating an asphalt shingle is quite simple. Asphalt shingles have layers using four primary materials:

1. Felt or Fiberglass Mat

The first layer on a shingle depends on the shingle type. Asphalt shingles formerly came in two types:

  1. Organic shingles use a felt layer of cellulose, wood fiber, paper, and other organic materials. Although North American manufacturers stopped using felt mats for asphalt shingle production in the early 2000s, many currently installed roofs still feature this type of shingle. 
  2. Fiberglass: The modern method of manufacturing asphalt shingles uses fiberglass for the bottom layer. Fiberglass mats provide better fire resistance and long-term durability compared to organic mats. 

Because fiberglass mats have replaced organic options in manufacturing, we’ll focus on them for the remainder of this article.

2. Asphalt

The fiberglass mats create the shingle’s base, followed by a top and bottom coating of asphalt. The asphalt used in roof shingle manufacturing comes from oil refining and contains mineral fillers that improve water resistance. Roof shingle manufacturers saturate the fiberglass fibers with asphalt, creating a sealed, water-tight layer. 

3. Granules

When most people ask, “What are roof shingles made of?” the top granule layer comes to mind. The top side of the asphalt-coated shingle receives a layer of stone or ceramic granules, improving its durability and resistance to UV rays and inclement weather. 

Ceramic granules are available in a wide variety of colors. Asphalt shingles with ceramic granules come in black, gray, white, tan, blue, green, red, and other color options. Many Florida roofers recommend asphalt shingles with algae-resistant granules to prevent roof discoloration from algae growth. 

The bottom of the asphalt shingle receives a coating of sand, talc, or similar material to prevent it from sticking to the granules below once the shingles are stacked and packaged together. 

4. Coatings and Sealants

Manufacturers may add various coatings and sealants to improve the quality of asphalt shingles and create strong bonds when roofing contractors install them. Asphalt shingles typically feature self-sealing coatings that activate once they reach a specific temperature. 

The asphalt shingle components and manufacturing process described here present a generalized view of shingle production. Manufacturers produce asphalt roof shingles using different techniques, material types, sealants, and coatings depending on their goals for fire, wind, water, and sun resistance and overall durability. 

Can Asphalt Roof Shingles Be Recycled?

Reclaimed asphalt shingles (RAS) fall into two categories for recycling:

  1. Post-manufacturer shingles: Shingles reclaimed from factory waste may get broken down and mixed into paving materials for roads and other applications. This process requires little processing because the materials on the shingles are still relatively new. 
  2. Post-consumer shingles: Shingles reclaimed from roof replacement jobs have lived through their life cycles and contain more brittle, hardened materials. After some additional processing, which includes removing metal waste like roofing nails, these materials can also be recycled.


Although recycling helps reduce the amount of asphalt shingle waste in landfills, recyclers must be careful not to accept reclaimed shingles containing asbestos. Before the 1980s, the organic felt layer of asphalt shingles often included this toxic fibrous material. Although manufacturers haven’t used asbestos for decades, some homes may still have asphalt shingle layers containing it due to the common (but not recommended) practice of installing new asphalt shingle roofs atop old ones. 

What Are Other Roofing Materials Made Of?

Asphalt shingles may represent the most common roofing material option, but manufacturers create roofing shingles, tiles, and shakes from many other materials. For instance, Victorian Shingles from Berridge offer a unique aesthetic and durability, presenting an alternative to traditional asphalt shingles.. These include:

  • Wood: Roofing material manufacturers craft wood shakes out of various types of wood, such as cypress and redwood. A wood shake typically has a water-proof sealant to prevent rot. Although many home and business owners like the appearance of a wood shake roof, this material scores low on fire resistance. 
  • Metal: Metal roofing materials often contain zinc, copper, steel, or aluminum alloys. Some manufacturers produce metal roof panels, while others create metal tiles that have a more traditional appearance. Metal roofing materials boast better durability and energy efficiency than asphalt shingles but tend to cost more.  
  • Synthetic materials: Modern manufacturing methods produce synthetic roofing materials from recycled paper, plastic, fiberglass, and other materials. These composite shingles often cost much more than other roofing material options but provide long-lasting durability and an attractive appearance. 

These are just a few examples of other roofing materials. Here at Eustis Roofing, we also handle flat roofing jobs on roofs with pitches up to 10 degrees.

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Trust Eustis Roofing With Your Roof Replacement

As a highly experienced roofing company in Leesburg, FL, Eustis Roofing can help you decide if asphalt shingles are suitable for your roof. We’ve provided reliable roof repairs and replacements to customers throughout Leesburg and Central Florida since 1959, offering simple and budget-friendly roofing services. We can help you with a roof repair or install your new asphalt shingle or metal roof. 

After six decades in the industry, we’ve serviced tens of thousands of roofs. You can trust Eustis Roofing with your roofing need, whether you have a leaky skylight or your current roof has reached the end of its life. We have the experience and expertise to answer your questions and ensure a long-lasting roof.

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What are roof shingles made of?” reach out to the Eustis Roofing team with any other questions you may have. Call us at 352-343-4240 today. 

Jason Reisman

About The Author: Jason Reisman

Jason Reisman, ERC’s General Manager is a problem solver! Jason is hands-on with finding solutions to difficult problems as well as constantly researching, exploring new concepts, discovering new inventive ways and is passionate about being the most experienced, most knowledgeable and most dependable in the roofing trade. He’s hands-on with training and instruction ensuring every job have the up to date and state of the art equipment to perform with precision to be in and out without delays. Jason loves competing with his Dad on the golf course!