Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Many exterior structures of a house are subject to change over time, and shingles are no exception to the rule.
Shingles will fade over time, but the rate at which they fade is largely determined by their original color. Darker shingles fade more noticeably than lighter shingles.
There is nothing more satisfying than driving on a familiar street that has been newly paved. Unfortunately, this privilege is short-lived. Over the course of a few years, new cracks and bumps will form from repeated use and the smooth, dark grey of the asphalt will lighten.
Sunlight and weather variability play a significant role in leaching the color from pavement.
At their core, shingles are made of the same material and, like roads and parking lots, they spend a lot of time outside. Because of this, they undergo a similar color-leaching process.
However, sun and weather patterns are not the only pieces to the equation.
The following sections will explore how other environmental factors can affect the aging process of your roof, how these factors should influence the purchasing of new shingles, and when to replace old ones.
Do Roof Shingles Change Color Over Time?
As you have probably already realized, the climate that your house is situated in heavily affects how your shingles will age. This will impact the color of your shingles can change in two important ways:
- As previously stated, fading significantly impacts color. UV rays from the sun will leach color from just about anything that has been outside for a long time, from outdoor furniture to human hair. In temperate and drier climates, long-term exposure to sunlight and changing weather patterns will cause your shingles to lose their color as time goes on.
- In wetter, tropical climates, shingles can collect algae, which will cause them to develop black streaks. The algae growth can occur in addition to fading from intense sunlight. According to HomeAdvisor, people looking to purchase shingles in humid environments should make sure that they are algae-resistant (AR) to prevent this problem.
It is important to note that replacing sections of a roof will also result in different shades of color, even if the new shingles are the same model as the older ones. As the new shingles fade, they should begin to blend with preexisting shingles, but this is not always the case.
Factors That Affect Shingle Fading
Before diving into big-picture concepts like sun exposure and weather dynamics, it is important to recognize how conditions in your immediate vicinity can affect the fading process. Here are some tangible factors that affect how your roof fades:
- Mature trees and other large structures surrounding your house will help to slow down the rate of change for shingles that are shaded by them, while sunny patches of your roof will continue to fade.
- The orientation of your house determines the intensity of shingle exposure. Southern-facing areas of the roof experience the most weathering while shingles facing the North experience the least.
- Frequent rainfall can cause fading because of the naturally acidic properties of rain. Rainwater with unnaturally enhanced acidity, also known as “acid rain,” can speed up the process further (source).
Unfortunately, these factors are almost entirely outside of your control if you already live in a house (I say almost because it is possible to tear down trees or plant new ones), but they are important to consider if you plan on building a home of your own.
How Shingle Color Choice and Fade Affects Your House
Fading shingles may seem like an aesthetic inconvenience, but it is more important to consider how certain shingle colors will impact your house’s ability to store or lose heat. The brands that you buy will also affect how well your new shingles are able to perform in the long run.
HomeAdvisor recommends IKO Asphalt Roofing Shingles, Owens Corning Duration Shingles, and GAF Timberline Shingles as top brands.
These restrictions do not imply that you cannot be creative. Many homeowners like their roofs to reflect their sense of style, and it is entirely possible to achieve fashion and function with the sheer variety of shingles that are on the market today. That being said, here are two basic facts to remember:
- Darker shingles fade more noticeably than lighter shingles because they absorb more heat and light than they reflect into the atmosphere. These shingles are advantageous in colder climates, where houses are built to retain heat in the winter months.
- In hotter regions of the world, light-colored shingles are preferred because they reflect light and heat away from the house, thereby helping to keep it cool.
If you decide to try and match your new shingles with the old ones, be sure to place them on your roof to make sure that the color is correct. This is also a good rule to follow when purchasing a new color.
Shingles are coated with granules to delay the fading and to increase fire protection. This means that the fading process will take several years, but it will eventually begin to affect the color of your roof. Though faded shingles may look less spectacular, keep in mind that fading does not affect their overall performance.
When Should I Replace My Shingles?
While shingles aid in temperature regulation, their main purpose is to protect the house from bad weather. Think of them as your house’s armor against the elements. Faded shingles do not require replacement unless they are also damaged. The same is true for algae-ridden shingles, although many consider the discoloration to be visibly unattractive.
It is important to check your roof for damaged shingles after bad storms. Even if your roof is not battered by tree branches and other debris, hard precipitation such as hail and wind-driven rain can be just as harmful.
Here are some signs that you need to replace your shingles:
- You see shingles that are cracked or torn. These should be replaced because their inability to protect the house comprises the effectiveness of the entire roof. Any leakages in your home may be attributed to shingle deterioration.
- You notice granules in your gutters. This is a sure sign that your shingles need to be replaced. It is normal for granules to dislodge themselves from shingles over time during windy or rainy days, but excessive loss is indicative of poor aging and will decrease your roof’s fire resistance.
- You notice that sections of your roof look like a green carpet. While mossy roofs might have a rustic appeal to them, moss traps moisture that will damage the shingles over time. Moss-covered shingles should be replaced before the moss can spread.
If you plan to replace shingles by yourself, it is important to thoroughly research proper shingle installation procedures before attempting them. If you would rather hire a company to complete the installation instead, be sure that they have many good reviews. Asphalt shingles are easier to install than other roofing materials, but faulty installation, no matter who is at fault, can lead to more problems in the long run.
The average lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is 20 to 25 years, while a roof built over an existing one should be replaced after 20 years. Knowing when your roof was built or replaced is an excellent way to keep track of how your roof has aged and when it should be rebuilt. This information should be available in your home improvement records.
Shingles Fade Over Time
While shingles do fade over time from sun and weather exposure, it does not mean they are ready to be replaced quite yet. Understanding what makes a shingle fade can help keep your roof bright like the day it was installed.
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