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Asphalt Shingle Splitting vs. Cracking: Key Differences

Cracks and splits are common types of damage that occur on asphalt shingles. Left unaddressed, these issues can lead to more serious problems since such gaps can expose your roof’s sheathing and make it susceptible to water damage. Cracking and splitting, however, are the result of different circumstances. It’s important for your roofers to know such distinctions as these will enable them to determine the appropriate repair.

Today, we look at the differences between splitting and cracking shingles.

Asphalt Cracking

Volatiles are chemicals with a low boiling point that are added to asphalt roofing shingles to make them more flexible and improve their overall water resistance. However, these volatiles evaporate over time and will cause shingles to become brittle and crack. This is a common sign of an aging roof. If you live in a hot climate, this can accelerate the evaporation process. Too much filler in the asphalt mix or low-grade shingles are also more prone to cracking. 

Asphalt Splitting

Splitting or thermal splitting, on the other hand, occurs due to constant changes in temperature. This type of damage is especially common in climates where the weather shifts from extremely hot to freezing cold. Shingles expand in warm temperatures and shrink in the cold. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on the adhesive strips between them and can eventually lead to leaks and low wind resistance.  

Difference Between Asphalt Cracking and Splitting

  • Appearance

roofer characterizes splitting as deep gaps that go all the way through a shingle. 

On the other hand, shingle cracks are usually just surface-deep.

  • Cause

Splitting happens when thermal expansion causes the different layers of a shingle to literally pull themselves apart from each other because one of the layers is secured by a fastener.

Cracking is caused by more gradual wear and tear, with thermal expansion creating smaller tears at a time, so the cracks are more shallow.

  • Degree of Damage

Splitting creates an instantaneous passageway for water, which leads straight to the more vulnerable parts of the roof. 

On the other hand, cracking causes the entire surface of the shingle to weaken, possibly causing the shingle to buckle or get dislodged later on.

Jack the Roofer is an experienced roofing company. This means we can help homeowners with all their roofing needs, including roof replacement, repair, maintenance and more. We also work with condominium associations, apartment complexes and small businesses to provide commercial steep-slope roofing services. Call us today at (720) 807-4715, or fill out our contact form. We serve clients in Denver.