Reasons to NOT Use Asphalt Shingles As Siding – Part II

Last week we looked at an odd and concerning installation of siding where a roofing shingle material was used instead of a typical siding material.

The outline of the combined articles, Part I and Part II follows:

Reasons to NOT use asphalt shingles as building siding

  1. Aesthetics
  2. Durability
  3. Water infiltration
  4. Installation challenges
  5. Longevity and ROI

Water infiltration

In this particular case the installer installed face nails or shiners at the bottom of each shingle. they’re barely noticeable, but if you look closely you can see small round corners at each bottom corner and the middle of each bottom edge of each shingle in the close-up view picture below.  There are a variety of different types of siding, available on the regular general market of building materials. Some of these examples include vinyl siding, wood siding, cementitious lap siding. all of these types of materials can be installed without exposed face nailing. face nailing can be done without significant damage or debilitation to the longevity of the material, but face nailing, if not residually maintained and upkeep with applications of face applied caulkings, for example, can lead to water entry into the building, beyond the external vapor barrier or the underlying building paper. in some cases Tyvek type synthetic materials are used as a building paper below shingles of this type and also below siding materials described, but generally inciting installations, the Fasteners such as nails, are only installed at the top of the siding and then each successive course above the lowest course covers the top of the plank of siding. they’re in, each area of Fastener or nail is also covered and protected from rain and precipitation in most cases. in this case, with the asphalt shingles they just installed those nails at the bottom of each asphalt shingle to prevent curling or bending up of each of the shingles yet the overall aesthetic still looks very bad and the shingles have waffled and shifted and curled in shape enough to make it all look like a warping stack of paper.

asphalt shingles

Installation challenges

Installing roofing shingles on a wall can be more difficult and time-consuming compared to using proper siding materials designed for vertical applications because specific components have been designed and manufactured to complement and coordinate the details of siding in a vertical installation. Those materials are not available or applicable for use with terminating roofing materials used as a siding. examples include: trim, starter strips, J-channels, F-channels, drip caps, utility trim, and double utility trim.  These types of materials are needed to terminate corners, start the base course and provide a proper union at window and door headers, for example.  This is one of the many examples we see so often where people try to save a buck and take a shortcut that is essentially creating just as much work up front and barely any real savings in actual net cost but has such a short life-cycle and is fraught with so many additional challenges that it’s actually totally counterproductive.  We see it so often, and we understand that it’s hard to find good contractors who can really trust and who actually take pride in doing good work, but they’re out there.   Time and time again our company is able to help people by doing good work the first time.   It might seem more expensive to hire an experienced contractor, but in the big picture it actually saves so much money.

The next picture below shows another addition, on another historic brick rowhome in the exact same alleyway. We are not saying that the vinyl siding installed on this particular addition is much better in any particular way. The builder who built this spent a little bit more money upfront instead of cutting a corner trying to use some makeshift solution to install roofing shingles on a wall, they just put vinyl siding on there like a regular typical inexpensive building practice.  It does look a little bit better though and it will work much better. 


Longevity and Return on Investment (ROI)

Sometimes the cheapest possible thing you can do can actually be the most expensive of all the options.  In the long run and in the big picture, installing shingles on a wall will be problematic later.  Leaks will have to be repaired and damage from leaks can be insidious, causing rot to internal materials which silently rot away only to be discovered later after if metastasizes into a major problem.

At some point, if the property is sold, this cheap shortcut will become a problem again, as well.  This issue will not only be an eyesore at the exterior of the home, but a homeinstpector will flag this as a problem that requires action, escalating the issue to a roughshod rebuild at a very inopportune time or a issue of contentious equitable adjustment in the favor of the buyer.  

In summary, while some people may attempt to use roofing shingles as building siding to save money, it is generally not recommended due to the aesthetic, durability, and safety issues involved. It is essential to choose appropriate siding materials designed for vertical applications to ensure a long-lasting and visually pleasing exterior for the building.

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.

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