Glass is; bimetal cans are; paper is — are roof shingles recyclable? When considering replacing your shingle roof, have you wondered if your old shingles could be removed and reused?

Reuse?

A conscientious roofer will never suggest two things:

  1. That a homeowner go up on the house roof — safety dictates that only trained professionals, equipped with the right fall arrest equipment and trained in proper techniques, walk on your roof
  2. That old shingles removed from your roof be reused — Shingles are economical to install but they lose their volatile chemicals over time, becoming brittle, and unable to shed water

Reusing old shingles for a doghouse, an outbuilding, or treehouse would be fine. These structures are not meant to be permanent, inhabitable by people, or highly valued. Nobody expects the kids’ backyard treehouse to boost curb appeal.

If your current roof has reached the stage where you are considering an entirely new shingle roof, the old shingles are too far gone to be worth saving.

The only reasonable case where old shingles might be reused on a house roof is if your original roofer set aside a bundle to keep on hand for spot repairs. Yet here, again, a good roofer will be cautious: even still in the bundle, shingles age and lose the oils which make them pliable, water resistant, and strong. Though they may match your roof’s color, they will not offer any greater protection than the weathered shingles already in place.

Embedded Cost

An additional wrinkle in considering reusing shingles is the added labor required to remove them rather than shovel them off and into a dumpster or recycling container.

Shingles are typically installed with six long, wide-headed roofing nails driven through the underlayment and through the sheathing. If you have ever crawled around your attic space and looked up, you may have noticed the many roofing nails sticking through. This is not a mistake; they hold better by being long; this makes them hard to remove.

Contractors typically remove both shingles and roofing nails with shingle shovels, specifically designed to pull the nails up with brute force. This slices up the shingles in the process. The underlayment is almost always removed, too.

The embedded cost of asking a roofer to direct the roofing crew to proceed more carefully (remember, time = money) is generally not offset by the value of the salvaged shingles. If you can find a roofer who is willing to direct the crew to work to salvage entire, intact shingles, you must also be willing to add a few days of work time to the roof replacement process. Even then, many shingles just aren’t able to be reused.

Recycle

You are still worried about making good use of your old shingles. Fair enough; the environment needs every helping hand it can get. We all want to keep
Michigan beautiful.

We cannot realistically reuse shingles, but what about recycling shingles? This is not only possible, it is very easy to accomplish.

When soliciting bids for your residential reroofing project, weed out roofers who show little interest in shingle recycling. Many roofers do not want to do it, though for the most part it is the difference between a drive to the landfill and a drive to the recycling center.

The benefits of recycling old shingles are many but here are four important ones to consider:

  1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says 11 million tons of fiberglass-asphalt shingles end up in landfills every year; this is an unnecessary and wasteful practice which takes a huge toll on our environment
  2. By recycling asphalt shingles, we as a nation can lower our use of foreign oil sources, improving our economic stability and independence
  3. Recycled asphalt shingles are literally the raw material for hot mix asphalt pavement — the fine aggregate, petroleum-derived asphalt, and strong fiber — so your old roof can become a fresh, newly paved asphalt road
  4. The world is experiencing shortages of construction-grade sand and aggregate, both of which can be recaptured from recycled shingles and reused

A mark of a modern residential roofer is the company’s embrace of realistic, contemporary practices. One of those practices is shingle recycling. The drive to a recycling center is usually no longer or more time-consuming than the drive to the local landfill.

If you are uncertain what your prospective residential roofers can do to help you do your part to protect Michigan’s environment, ask. Get details in writing about the carting and disposal process of shingles, underlayment, and construction debris.

At Victors Roofing, we care about our customers, our state, and our environment. We can help you select a durable, “green” shingle for your Michigan home’s new roof, and we can provide you with more information about shingle recycling. Please contact us today so that we can work with you on sustainable strategies to keep Michigan beautiful.