Frequently, visitors to the PABCO Roofing Products website ask this excellent question: “Are asphalt shingles fire resistant?”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over 370,000 residential fires occurred between 2015 to 2019. This resulted in over 7 million dollars’ worth of property loss. More recently, in December of 2021, wildfires in Boulder County, Colorado, were the cause of over 1 billion dollars of damage. With extreme weather events like drought and windstorms leading to wildfires, building fire safety awareness has never been so critical. Statistics such as this fuel a need for an answer to the question of whether asphalt shingles are fire resistant.
Here is not only the answer to the question, but also some additional information.
Understanding Fire Resistance with Respect to Ratings and Standards
Before answering the question, we need to understand what fire resistance is. It is essentially the ability to withstand heat intensity for a specified period with no structural failure. From this definition alone, we can lean toward saying yes, asphalt shingles are fire resistant. To further support an answer of yes, we can add that asphalt is a naturally fire-resistant material. And the exposed coverage granules manufactured today are ceramic coated, protecting against sparks. It really is all in the science of manufacturing asphalt shingles.
Additionally, asphalt shingles may be classified as carrying a fire rating. If your home is in an area that is prone to wildfires, having the highest fire-rated shingles (Class A) is a good idea. This is the rating of the asphalt shingles manufactured by PABCO Roofing Products.
Although all of the characteristics mentioned above are important, the true determining factor of whether asphalt shingles are fire resistant is in this question:
Do they meet ASTM standards?
Testing and listing per the ASTM standard specification is the requirement for an answer of yes. The answer is YES, ONLY IF the asphalt shingles hold the top fire-rating classification. If they are Class A, they are UL Listed and will have this label:
How Do Asphalt Shingles Obtain a Fire-resistance Classification?
For homes, shingles are tested under certain conditions and must uphold certain properties to receive fire-rating classification. For example, when adhered to a roof, fire-rated shingles cannot slide off, break, or crack upon exposure to fire originating outside the roof. And fire-rated shingles must protect against flaming on the underneath side of the roof deck. UL Solutions and other testing agencies require such properties in shingles in order to meet the standard fire-resistance requirements.
Undergoing test method ANSI/UL790 is one way to receive one of these three fire-rating classifications:
- Class A: Severe – This rating indicates a high level of fire resistance, not easily flammable, not prone to spreading fires, and effective against moderate exposures to fire.
- Class B: Moderate – This rating indicates a mid-range level of fire resistance, not easily flammable, not easily contributing to the spreading of fire, and relatively effective in protecting against moderate fire exposures. Additionally, this rating has its own distinctive testing process.
- Class C: Light – This rating indicates a light level of fire resistance, not easily flammable, doesn’t cause fire to spread, and effective against minor fire exposures.
Best Practices for Installing Fire-Resistant Shingles
It is not recommended to have shingles installed that do not have a fire rating. Additionally, fire-rated shingles provide an extra layer of defense against exposure to external elements. For situations when fire threatens the outside of your home, clearly, the best choice in shingles is Class A. This is the classification that provides the highest level of fire resistance. But you do have options, just know that your selection is an important one. Your choice will impact how vulnerable your roof is to fire stemming from outside your home. For your safety, PABCO Roofing Products offers a variety of asphalt roofing shingles.
A Quick Rundown on Fire Safety Relative to Asphalt Shingles
Fire-Resistant Roofing and Safety
Fire safety should be at the top of a homeowner’s need to know list. Not only can fires cause devastating damage, but they can also put your family in harm’s way. No matter where you live, it’s crucial to understand how fire-rated roofing and asphalt shingles can help protect your home from grave danger.
UL Solutions and ANSI/UL790
UL Solutions is the agency behind the ANSI/UL790 test method that outlines the series of tests roof coverings go through for fire rating. Measurements are taken of how long it takes various materials to ignite and how long it takes flames to spread. UL provides manufacturers detailed instructions for obtaining such information, including how to set-up and use test decks and other apparatus to observe materials in simulated fire exposures.
- The Class A fire rating from UL does not mean the material is fully immune to damage from a fire.
- Factoring in your home’s structural design and engineering is also significant.
- And UL is not the only listing and testing agency.
ARMA and Roofing Contractor Associations
Most roofing contractor associations endorse Class A roofing as being the most fire resistant. According to the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA), asphalt shingles can be fire resistant when properly installed. ARMA recommends consulting with a qualified roofing contractor to ensure your shingles are fire resistant. It’s best to consult with a contractor associated with one of the following:
- The National Roofing Contractor’s Association (NRCA)
- Your local roofing contractor’s association.
- A PABCO Preferred Pro Contractor
Your choice of roofing contractor is one of several factors that will affect the installation, which could impact performance. It’s not only weight, thickness and the materials used in the construction of the shingles that influence the outcome. As with any roofing product, it’s always best to consult a professional roofer to ensure you’re getting the right service and product for your project.
The Reliability of Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingles are a reliable and popular roofing material for reasons such as fire resistance, low cost, and low maintenance. These shingles come in a variety of brands and some even go through a special manufacturing process. But remember, not all asphalt shingles are considered “fire rated.” If you’re looking for additional protection from fire, it’s worth investing in a higher quality product that features better fire protection like the asphalt shingles from PABCO Roofing Products. Gaining a good understanding of what makes a shingle fire resistant and reliable is helpful in your effort to keep your home safe from the potential impact of external fire danger.
If you as a homeowner choose fire-rated asphalt shingles as your roofing material, you should be able to rest more easily knowing that your home has one of the most highly effective roof coverings available today! PABCO Roofing Products offers asphalt shingles that meet the latest code requirements. Visit our website to learn more about our products and to find a contractor or distributor near you.