Are you wondering how shingles are made? Understanding how shingles are made will allow you to understand the importance of buying high-quality shingles.

Modern shingles are made from new growth trees and have to be treated with chemical preservatives to make them last a long time. They go through a machine that systematically adds many other components.

Below, I will explain more about the shingle manufacturing process, shingle raw materials, shingle quality control, and the byproducts of shingles. 

Raw Materials Needed for Shingles

Asphalt shingles are seldom called composite shingles. Their framework is a base of either fiberglass or organic felt. Organic felt mats are composed of cellulose fibers that are collected from recycled waste paper or wood.

These fibers are diminished to a water-based pulp, molded into sheets, dried, sliced into strips, and coiled onto rolls. Slimmer, smaller shingles with a strong resistance to fire are made on a foundation of fiberglass.

In a conventional process, the fiberglass membrane is produced by chopping fine, glass filaments and blending them with water to make a pulp, which is shaped into a sheet.

The water is then removed out of the pulp, and a binder is connected to the mat. After curing, the mat is cut up to proper widths and then rolled.

Asphalt, which is a very thick hydrocarbon material, can be recovered either from naturally occurring deposits or, more regularly, as a byproduct of the crude oil refinement process. Prior to being utilized in the production of shingles, asphalt must go through a process called blowing and become oxidized.

Blowing is achieved by bubbling air through a heated asphalt which is mixed with catalysts that lead to a chemical reaction. The newly formed asphalt is softened at the right amount at the right temperatures to make decent shingles.

Different colors of ceramic-coated mineral granules are utilized as a topcoat on shingles to guard them against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, improve their resistance to fire, and add a visually appealing finish. The granules may be tiny rocks or bits of slag which is a byproduct of ore smelting.

Shingles that are created for use in humid areas may include some copper-containing granules on the topcoat to prevent the growth of algae on a roof. The back surface of a shingle is coated with talc, sand, or fine particles of mica to prevent the shingles from sticking together like glue while in storage.

Spots or strips of a thermoplastic adhesive are inserted on most shingles while shingles go through the manufacturing process. Once nailed on a roof, the shingles are warmed up by the sun, and this adhesive is activated to make overlapping shingles stick together for greater wind resistance.

Shingles Manufacturing Process

Asphalt shingles are made when the base material of the shingle goes through a machine that systematically adds other components. The machine can also be used to make roll roofing.

1. Dry Looping

A big roll of either fiberglass mat or organic felt is mounted and inserted into the roofing machine. The roll is usually 6 ft (1.83 m) in diameter. Firstly, the base material must pass through a dry looper.

Matting is made accordion-style in the reservoir so that the machine can continuously work when the supply roll is completely used up and a new one needs to be used.

2. Saturation

The base material goes through a presaturation chamber and then it is sprayed with hot asphalt on one side to push out any existing moisture. The base material then enters into a saturator tank that has hot asphalt in it. Soaking the base material in the asphalt coats the fibers in the mat and fills the empty spaces between them.

3. Wet Looping

The matting is once again molded into accordion-like folds. While the asphalt coating on the mat cools down, it is applied to the felt. This creates an even greater degree of saturation.

4. Coating

The coating of asphalt that has been stabilized with powdered minerals is a critical step. The coating is applied to both sides of a mat. The mat goes through a pair of coating rolls that are divided by a sufficient distance to make sure that the desired amount of coating asphalt is properly applied to the mat.

This step may be enough to properly coat fiberglass filaments and fill the empty spaces between them.

5. Mineral Surfacing

The granules of ceramic-coated minerals of a color that you desire are embedded to the top surface of an asphalt-coated mat. A decent coating of small particles of a mineral, such as mica or talc, is put on to the back surface of a mat.

A sheet of the coated mat then goes through a couple of rollers that apply the coating particles on the asphalt and cool down the material.

6. Finishing

The strip of roofing material is put together accordion-style on a cooling looper to finalize the cooling process.

7. Cutting

A sheet of treated shingle material then goes into a cutting machine. The cutting machine cuts the shingles from the backside into your ideal shape and size.

The machine divides the stacks of shingles into bundles. Bundles typically have a sufficient amount of shingles to cover 25-35 sq ft (7.62-10.67 sq m).

8. Packaging

Bundles and stacks of shingles are labeled and sometimes have wrappers around them. They may be put into boxes too.

Shingles Quality Control

The quality control of shingles starts during the manufacturing phase of the base material. You must make sure that the material will be good enough for the final product. It must have enough tensile, or pulling, strength as well as tear resistance to withstand the entire shingle-making process.

Also, in addition to the previously stated strength characteristics, organic mats are monitored continuously to make sure that the mats have proper absorbency and moisture content. Fiberglass mats are continuously monitored for sufficient fiber distribution as well as uniform weight.

During the manufacturing phase of the shingles, many shingle quality factors are monitored continuously. These factors are uniformity, color, and thickness of the asphalt coat.

The application of the mineral coatings is monitored for uniform distribution and proper embedding of the particles. The inspectors of a finalized shingles make sure that the shingles are of the correct size, weight, count, and color.

Byproducts and Waste Produced During the Shingles Production Process

Asphalt-coated byproducts of the manufacturing phases include waste generated by cutting tabs on the shingles and shingle fragments. Sometimes this waste is sold to companies that make asphalt pavement for roads.

However, because of shipping costs, the selling of the waste may not be a good idea unless an asphalt paving company can be found relatively close to a shingle production plant.

Final Words

Asphalt has been utilized as a great building material for thousands of years. Ancient Babylonians used asphalt as the mortar that was placed in between clay bricks and as a waterproofing liner in ancient canals.

Roll roofing consists of long strips of asphalt-coated felt with a layer of finely crushed stone. Roll roofing has been manufactured in large amounts in the United States since 1893.

Understanding the importance of the shingle manufacturing process, shingle raw materials, shingle quality control, and the byproducts of shingles will give you a new appreciation of shingles.