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Asphalt Shingles

Most houses with traditional, sloped roofs use asphalt shingles. Fiberglass reinforced shingles are the most popular choice (the other choice is organic shingles, which consist of an organic, cellulose-fiber base).

In addition to keeping water out of your house, shingles should provide some degree of fire protection. The fire resistance of asphalt shingles is rated as Class A, B, or C, with Class A signifying the most fire-resistant. Generally, fiberglass shingles have Class A fire ratings, and organic shingles have Class C ratings.

Shingle life varies with materials, quality, and weather conditions. Generally, shingle manufacturers will claim a life that lasts decades, but holding them to the warranty may be difficult. Instead, look for shingles that are certified to meet the standards (there are different standards for fiberglass and organic shingles). In general, with organic shingles, the heavier (and thus the thicker) the shingle, the more wear it will withstand.

Getting a good shingled roof requires attention to detail to ensure the shingles appear orderly. When hiring a roofing contractor, always check references; and don't just drive by -- make sure your potential contractor is taking credit for a roof he actually did.

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