Are Asphalt Shingles Bad for the Environment?

September 3, 2023by Joe0

Beyond aesthetic, performance and durability, one factor that weighs on some homeowners decisions when it comes to home improvements and material selection is the potential environmental impact.

As a cost-effective roofing option, asphalt shingles are a common homeowner choice. While modern shingles have to adhere to strict codes and are generally not harmful while installed on your home, the question about shingles’ environmental impact comes down more to the effects of their disposal over time. 

Are they bad for the environment?

It takes up to 400 years for asphalt to degrade and break down completely and as shingles are heavy and take up a lot of space, they do have an impact on how much space they take up in garbage dumps. They also have the ability to leak chemicals into groundwater when they are wet and left to break down unsafely. 

Additionally, asphalt shingles are quick and cheap to put on but as they are easily damaged, they fill landfills pretty quickly! They need to be replaced every few years which can really put a strain on the environment as a whole.

What Are the Pros of Asphalt Shingle Roofing?

There are plenty of pros to choosing asphalt shingles. They are still the most popular type of roofing options out there and there are plenty of reasons behind it. Here those reasons are:

Easy to install

Asphalt shingles are very easy to install and they offer a lot of flexibility throughout the installation process. They’re still readily available and roofing companies sometimes favor asphalt as it’s affordable.

Lower cost

Not only is asphalt cheaper to buy to install it, it’s also not as expensive for laborers to install it because they are less complicated than other options. This makes asphalt an economical option and that can help when it comes to making home building decisions.


Shingles can be bought in a range of colors and styles which gives you plenty of options when you are shopping for new shingles. You can even paint asphalt shingles to add energy efficiency as well. Color and style selections are bigger with asphalt, which is helpful if you are shopping around.

What are the Cons of Asphalt Shingle Roofing?

While there are some notable positives, there are still negatives to using asphalt for your roofing requirements. 


Asphalt shingles may have durability when it comes to breaking down in the environment but they’re not the best option for the roof due to maintenance. They have to be inspected often and they need frequent repairs. Moss and algae can make them slippery and cause significant damage and the weather than damage them, too. Roofer inspections should take place every few years and if you have a lot of trees around, it may need to be cut back more often. You should consider the level of maintenance and the ongoing costs when you are making decisions about your shingles for your roof.

Not great with insulation

Asphalt shingles have a low insulation value. There are some roofing materials – like metal – that do a much better job at insulating your roof than asphalt shingles do. This means that you may not have a particular energy-friendly roof. If the environment is important to you, you might want to think about your options and long term, whether your home energy bills will be impacted by the lack of insulation in the roof.

The environment

Lastly, thinking about how asphalt shingles can affect the environment is important. Shingles are made from petroleum – a fossil fuel – and fiberglass. That releases greenhouse gasses into the environment and the production of fiberglass can release toxic air pollutants into the air.

When it comes down to it, asphalt shingles are likely not the best option out there. Understanding the risks and how asphalt shingles contribute negatively to the environment is important before you make any decisions that are fairly permanent for your home. With the right help and advice from expert roofers, you’ll be able to ensure that your roof is going to last you as long as possible. 

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RPS Metal Roofing & Siding, Inc is a manufacturer and distributor of metal roofs. Located in Welaka, Florida, our company has state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment resulting in fine quality metal roofs for commercial, residential and agricultural use.

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