Reasons To NOT Use Asphalt Shingles As Siding – Part I

The picture below shows a rear addition at a brick rowhome in the city.  DC is full of rowhomes where additional rooms and even multi-level additions have been added over the decades.

why not use shingles made with asphalt  

The outline of today’s article follows:

Reasons to NOT use asphalt shingles as building siding

Table of Contents

Some people have used roofing shingles as building siding, particularly in DIY or budget-constrained projects. While this approach might save money initially, there are several reasons why it is not a recommended practice and may have limitations and shortcomings: 


Roofing shingles are designed for use on roofs, not walls. As a result, they may not have the same aesthetic appeal when used as siding, leading to a less visually appealing exterior for the building. 

This particular installation is part of the actual home.  It looks bad, even for a shed or doghouse, but you can almost forgive the shoddy aesthetic on a doghouse, but on an actual home, it detracts from the overall visual appearance that it brings the rest of the building’s condition into question.  The shingle buckle in and away from the planar face of the wall creating an undulating appearance.

asphalt shingles


Roofing shingles may not be as durable when used as siding. They are not specifically manufactured to withstand the constant exposure to elements such as rain, snow, wind, and sunlight on vertical surfaces. Vinyl siding isn’t particularly strong but it has resistance to water and retains color a bit better than roofing materials. The biggest area of durability, in comparison with shingle roofing material though, is that as you can see in the picture below the shingles installed on the side of a building start to look like worn out old pieces of paper over time. By comparison, siding does a pretty good job of retaining its original shape and form due to the integral bends in each run of siding. siding can be susceptible to heat, exposure to sun, exposure to ultraviolet rays and thermal shifting and bending as well but it seems to do much better than the roofing materials.

In this particular example, at the side of the addition, the building is next to an alleyway. cars and trucks, the worst offender may be trash trucks, have a tendency to scrape against walls in an alley and in this case damage of this type has broken up the asphalt shingles. it’s hard to say that vinyl siding would have performed significantly better but vinyl siding does have some resilience that is lacking in asphalt roofing shingles.


Smart proactive replacement, construction, upkeep and maintenance of low slope roof and mansard roof systems requires an enthusiastic interest and understanding of historical methodologies, waterproofing principles, and building science.   Here in Washington DC, historic and modern residential and commercial buildings are extremely expensive and the roof and related systems provide the shield that preserves the building. 

We encourage all of our clients, and all readers of this article and to our blog in general, to prioritize the value of quality construction and building maintenance, and develop a relationship with our company.  You can learn a lot more on our blog.  Feel free to check it out.  If you have questions about the roof and related systems of your building in Washington DC, contact us or fill out the webform below and drop us a line.  We will be in touch if we can help.

In our next article, we will look at a Part II of this same toping, discussing the issues of water infiltration, installation challenges related to missing terminations and associated required trim components, longevity, and ROI.

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