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What Is a Composition Roof?

By Mark Soto

October 13, 2022

A composition roof using asphalt shingles

Composition roofs are one of the most widely used roofing options due to their versatility and range of design styles. They are typically referred to as asphalt-shingle roofs. You can install them on almost any type of steep-slope dwelling and they're cost-effective, so you don't have to break the bank! Despite their affordability, they don't lose anything in terms of offering excellent protection for your most valuable asset — your home.

What Is a Composition Roof?

Composition roofs are made up of shingles created from a combination of materials that typically include fiberglass, asphalt, and granules. The fiberglass serves as the foundation while the asphalt coating provides water resistance. The granules help protect your roof from UV rays and give it color. The shingles sometimes also contain technologies that help protect the roof against blue-green algae discoloration. It's one of the most affordable roof options and allows owners to choose from a broad range of styles and colors.

Types of Composition Roof

There are three main types of composition roof, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

  1. The three-tab shingle option is typically the least expensive. It gets its name from the appearance of three cutouts on each shingle. These attractive shingles come with 25–30 year limited warranties.
  2. Architectural shingles are are constructed using multiple layers that are laminated together, they're thicker than standard three-tab shingles and come in different patterns, making the roof look more dimensional. However, they also cost more!
  3. Lastly, designer shingles are manufactured to look like shakes or slates to create a particularly classy roof aesthetic. The designer look can come with a slightly higher price tag meaning these shingles are usually the most expensive among the options available.

Benefits of a Composition Roof

Composition roofs are one of the most affordable roof options you can find. Less expensive than other popular construction materials like metal, tile or slate, they're also easy and quick to install.

When it comes to choosing how your roof looks, you can choose from among a wide variety of styles, colors, and textures. For example, you can select a shingle with a slate look without the added cost.

Composition shingle roofs also provide excellent protection in a variety of climate zones and weather conditions, including snow, rain, and wind.

Overall, composition roofs are a cost-effective choice that typically provide good limited warranty coverage. For example, GAF Lifetime* Shingles come with a Lifetime Limited Warranty* against manufacturing defects.

Is a Composition Roof Right for Me?

Compared to other roof types like metal or cedar roofs, composition roofs typically cost less and are easy to maintain. These factors, along with the range of styles and colors available make them an excellent option for budget-minded property owners. As always, no matter how straightforward-seeming a roofing project can be, it's always a good idea to hire a professional — such as a trusted contractor certified by GAF** — to install your new roof properly.


*Lifetime refers to the length of warranty coverage provided and means as long as the original individual owner(s) of a single-family detached residence [or eligible second owner(s)] owns the property where the qualifying GAF products are installed. For other owners/structures, Lifetime coverage is not applicable. Lifetime coverage on shingles requires the use of GAF Lifetime Shingles only. See the GAF Shingle & Accessory Limited Warranty for complete coverage and restrictions. Visit gaf.com/LRS for qualifying GAF products.

**Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may have agreed that they will use GAF roofing products, and may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program.

About the Author

Mark Soto is a freelance writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has comprehensive knowledge of home improvement projects based on his previous work. Mark comes from a family of DIYers and has worked with landscapers, plumbers, painters and other contractors. He also writes about camping and his enthusiasm for the outdoors.

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This ideal extends to the GAF Community Contractor Program, where GAF certified contractors can partner with GAF and give back through the following initiatives:GAF Habitat for Humanity Program. With over 1,500 local Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the U.S., GAF-certified contractors can partner with their local chapter to provide the labor to install fully-donated GAF roofing systems. Volunteers don't work alone. Homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor into building their Habitat house.GAF Affordable Housing Reroof Program. This initiative encourages contractors to partner with any 501c3 nonprofit organization in their community for a reroof project, for which GAF will donate the shingles.GAF Roofs for Heroes. GAF-certified contractors can partner with a local 501c3 to perform roof repairs or replacements for local heroes. 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By Authors Karen L Edwards

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Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products. Your dealings with a Contractor, and any services they provide to you, are subject to the Contractor Terms of Use. Visit www.gaf.com/gaf-contractor-terms-of-use for details**Eligibility requirements, coverage, terms and restrictions apply and vary based on the enhanced warranty and products installed. For details and to view fullGolden Pledge Limited Warranty visit https://www.gaf.com/en-us/for-homeowners/warranties. Visit gaf.com/LRS for qualifying GAF products.

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Contractor carrying a box of GAF Cobra Rigid Vent 3
Your Home

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You may not automatically consider attic and roof ventilation when replacing your home's roofing system. However, it's a key part of the process. Here's why roof ventilation matters and the role proper attic ventilation can play in your roofing system. The Importance of Proper Attic Ventilation Your home generates moisture every day: cooking, showering, and even normal breathing all create moisture that can find its way up to your attic. Without proper attic ventilation, that moisture has nowhere to go. Once trapped, it can damage your interior spaces and reduce the effectiveness of your attic insulation. It can even contribute to the overall deterioration of your roof system and structural supports over time. Ventilating your attic space allows that interior moisture, along with hot air, to be exhausted near the top of the roof through ridge vents, roof louvers, powered vents, or other exhaust vents. Fresh air can also enter the attic along the soffits and eaves. 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If not, what other types of exhaust vents do you recommend (i.e., power vents or roof louvers) to provide the needed amount of exhaust ventilation? Are my existing overhang/soffit vents clogged by paint or covered with attic insulation? If I don't have any intake ventilation or enough ventilation at my overhang/soffit area, can it be added? Would you mind looking at my attic insulation? Is it in good condition, and does it properly cover the entire attic floor? If you're in need of roof repairs or replacement, reach out to a contractor certified by GAF ** in your area. Be sure to ask about proper ventilation and the options available to ensure that your roofing system will deliver the best performance and protection for your home. *Always have a balanced attic ventilation system. In no case should the amount of exhaust ventilation at or near the ridge exceed the amount of intake ventilation at or near the soffit. See www.gaf.com/ventcalcalculator for details. **Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

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