What Are Roof Shingles?

Roof Tiles, Slates & Shingles
product guide
What Are Roof Shingles?

There are few roofing materials more versatile and easier to use than roofing shingles. Roof shingles consist of individual overlapping tiles. They’re available in regular and abstract patterns, laid in courses from the eaves of the roof. A relatively new invention, shingles developed from the demand for high-quality roofing material for roofs regardless of pitch or style.

Uses for Roof Shingles

Shingles can be used on almost any style of roof. These include houses, garages, sheds, commercial or agricultural buildings and much more. The best type of shingle for each application depends on the material, which we’ll talk about more below.

What Shapes and Sizes Are Available?

Shingles come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, sizes and colours. This means that no matter your style or the style of your property, you’re sure to find something to suit you. Metal shingles often have a distinctively sleek, smooth appearance, but are also available with more vibrant, granulated finishes. Cedar shingles capitalise on their natural beauty through incredible designs that burst with character while not sacrificing ease of installation. Where felt excels is in the range of abstract, irregular designs available for more creative homeowners.

Roof Shingle Materials

Roof shingles are highly diverse and available in a whole host of styles and materials. It would be more accurate to refer to shingles as a method of roofing than their own distinct class like tiles. There are many kinds of roof shingles, but below we’re going to talk about the three most popular.

Felt Shingles

Close up of felt shingles

Felt Shingles are by far the most common in use across the UK. They’re very popular with homeowners and tradespeople for garden outbuildings such as sheds as well as garages and extensions. While not as durable as some materials, felt shingles are still more than capable of providing effective protection.

Another big benefit of felt is its cost-effectiveness. The initial cost of the materials is low and it’s super easy to work with, reducing labour costs during installation. Felt can be cut and worked on to suit any desired shape, and It’s both easy to fit and remove. This means that if you ever need to replace your felt shingles, it’ll be quick, easy and cheap.

Felt’s biggest drawback when compared to other shingle materials is its strength. We wouldn’t suggest roofing a residential or commercial building with felt shingles. It is, however, one of the best shed roofing materials, as well as garages and gazebos. Felt is great for smaller structures like these because of the value for money you get, as well as its ease of use. It’s the perfect material for DIYers to undertake a simple project that prioritises budget and functionality over durability and aesthetics.

While they do not have the character of wooden shingles or the sleek, hyper modern qualities of metal, felt shingles still offer some of the greatest visual variety. Katepal in particular are a manufacturer renowned for the breadth of layout styles they offer. Their hexagonal felt shingles are extremely popular, featuring a honeycomb design that will lend your property a futuristic aesthetic. For the more creative out there, their abstract patterns are also perfect for giving your property a rustic charm.

Felt shingles enjoy the lowest lifespan of the three shingle types we’ll be discussing here. They can be expected to last between 10 and 20 years, however roofs covered with felt shingles have been known to last close to 30 years. Felt shingles are highly resistant to rain and moisture ingress, but can be prone to damage in extremely low temperatures, as well as suffering from tears and impacts. This shouldn’t pose too much of a problem however thanks to their low cost and just how easy they are to replace.

Cedar Shingles

Aged Cedar Shingles on Roof

Cedar shingles are considered the most premium of the three types of shingles, and it’s easy to see why. They offer some of the greatest aesthetics and character available in a roofing material. Their natural, rural charm is unmistakable and is akin to traditional wooden-roofed cabins and houses. Wooden roof shingles are popular across the UK, as well as in Europe and North America.

While there are a number of kinds of wooden shingles available, cedar is by far the most popular, thanks to the fact that it outdoes the competition in so many ways. The texture and finish of cedar shingles has an undeniable appeal, along with excellent durability and longevity. Cedar trees can live for over a millennium, so it’s no surprise that cedar is such a hardy and reliable roofing material.

Cedar shingles can be used on a range of different structures, including residential properties, cabins and garages as well as garden outbuildings such as sheds. Do note however, that cedar shingles are relatively expensive, but for this added cost you get visual appeal that is difficult to top. They’re also highly durable thanks to the thick, sturdy wood while not sacrificing very much strength for added aesthetics.

Cedar shingles can be slightly tricky to install when compared to felt however, particularly for less experienced DIYers. Cedar shingles also require more ongoing maintenance and care throughout their lifetime. Many homeowners report however that caring for their cedar roof has allowed it to age beautifully, only adding to its rustic, rural charm.

You can expect a roof of cedar shingles to last around 30 years when installed correctly. Cedar is highly resistant to water ingress, and can easily withstand both hot and cold extremes. One danger however is that the wood may warp or splinter during periods of prolonged heat, and without proper treatment they can even pose a fire hazard. However, thanks to the latest innovations in design and technology, this risk has largely been minimised.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles are widely used, and are a very durable roofing material. Despite their incredible strength, these shingles are considerably lightweight, and are known for their ease of use. A roof of metal shingles is quite easy to install for just one or two people, and are far easier to fit onto a roof than alternatives such as roofing sheets.

The exceptional strength and longevity of metal shingles means that manufacturers offer some of the best guarantees on the market, with 40-year warranties not unheard of. This makes them an excellent choice for homeowners that are concerned about roof repair and maintenance, and are eager to avoid this for their new roof.

Thanks to their durability, metal shingles are superb for commercial and industrial buildings, where a sturdy roof covering is vital. Metal is also superb for use on homes, extensions, and garages, particularly where a homeowner is looking to achieve a sleek, modern aesthetic. These shingles also require very little ongoing maintenance, aside from cleaning a few times per year. It’s also a good idea to touch up paints every now and then to keep them looking fresh.

With regards to lifespan, you can expect metal shingles to last around 50 years, with existing roofs known to have lasted even longer. Durability and longevity will depend on the exact brand and style of metal roof shingle you choose, but they will all share much of the same outstanding strength. One downside to metal roof shingles to be aware of however is how warm they can make a property during summer time, due to how well metal conducts heat.


Now you should have a much clearer picture in your mind of what roof shingles are as well as the different shingle types available. They each offer a unique range of benefits that could make them perfect for your projects now and in the future. We work with a number of top roof shingle manufacturers such as Britmet, Marley, Katepal and more to offer you the best selection.

If you’re still unsure, get in touch with our award-winning customer service team. They’ll be on-hand to answer any questions you may have. You can contact them via telephone on 01295 565 565, via email, or via the live chat on our website.

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