How to Identify Types of Roof Shingles

The term shingles broadly refers to roof coverings made of various materials. The most common materials are asphalt, wood, tile and concrete. In addition to materials composition, types of roof shingles vary according to design and application. The easiest way to identify the type of shingle you have, is to closely inspect the roof’s covering for characteristics unique to a specific type of shingle.

Roof tiles interlock in a wavy pattern.

Step 1

Place an extension ladder's feet flat on the ground.

Extend an extension ladder and set the ladder against the roof’s eave. Climb the ladder to gain a closer look at the shingles.

Step 2

Wood shingles often show signs of natural wear, such as fading and splitting.

Look at the size and shape of the shingles. Look for curved, half-circle shingles interlocked in a scalloped pattern; this design indicates tile roof shingles. Concrete shingles have a low, wavy profile and edges that snap together, like laminate flooring. If the shingles are thin, flat, about 3-feet wide and have a grainy surface, you are looking at asphalt shingles. Wood shingles are flat, slightly thicker than asphalt shingles and approximately 12 inches to 18 inches wide.

Step 3

The surface of concrete shingles feels similiar to a patio paver.

Touch the surface of a shingle to determine the material’s texture. Tile shingles have a hard, relatively smooth surface and the tile’s glaze feels slightly slick. Concrete shingles feel slightly grainy, like an exterior concrete slab. Asphalt shingles feel like they’re covered with coarse sandpaper. Natural wood grains run straight up and down the surface of wood shingles, the grains feel like thin ridges.

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