5 ways to Recycle Roofing Shingles

A construction worker removing shingles from a roof.
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I hope he doesn’t read this, but we call my dad the “garbage police” when he’s not around. Hs a very proud environmentalist and loves to pick through people’s garbage bins to pull out things that are against regulation to be placed in the city dump. This is a noble habit in some regards as it does help the planet, but it is also quite annoying when attempting to dispose of things that are not easy to find a final resting place for. Roofing shingles, for example, are our latest battle. Most roofing tiles are made of a number of non-natural elements (most notably, asphalt) that have to be handled with care and consideration. As my sister recently purchased a home that required a new roof, this meant a lot of creativity on how to recycle our abundance of used roofing materials in a respectable and environmentally sound way. This article will offer some cool tips and ideas of how we did it.

1. Stair Grips

A set of wooden stairs leading down to a basement with concrete walls.

Do you have an old basement or cellar stairs that you are always afraid of falling down in the dark? Why not make DIY stair grips using some of your old roofing shingles?

To do this, simply cut the tile to the size of the step using a utility knife. For the sake of aesthetic, I left about 2 inches of the untouched stairs on each side of the tile. Next, place the rough side up and nail or glue the shingle centered onto the wood. Allow drying before walking on them.

2. Driveway Mats to Avoid Stains

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely loathe oil and other automotive stains left on the driveway after an especially trying DIY project. Though there are many solutions to their prevention, a plethora of used roofing shingles works wonderfully as homemade driveway mats. Simply place them under a car while working, and allow them to be the barrier between it and the concrete below.

3. Weed Deterrent

A close-up of red mulch.

This idea is a neat one if you love the beauty of a backyard flowerbed, but hate the potential backache from weeding them. To prevent weeds and other uninvited plants from growing among your flowers, simply place some shingles around their base. Though this does admittedly make watering your good plants more difficult, the lack of light from the shingles will stop pests from growing. Further, if you use a store-bought mulch to give your yard a finished look, it's easy to match its color to the shingles you have on hand. For instance, block mulch is very popular in my area, which matched our tiles perfectly—just add mulch to camouflage this trick.

4. Interior Ceiling Tiles

Using old roofing materials as interior décor takes a very special individual to be daring enough even to attempt it. Still, when done correctly this technique of shingle recycling can create a lovely rustic look, which is very much on-trend at the moment.

Have you ever seen a vintage tin stamped ceiling? In the 1800s people used tin to create patterns on interior walls and ceilings as a middle-class response to decorated plaster. Today, it is used as a nod to our American heritage and gives a cool vintage feel to any space. As a means of recycling, some are replacing the tin with asphalt shingles, attaching them to joists hung from ceilings in distinct patterns.

5. Sidewalk Anti-slip

A pair of feet on an icy road.

As a kid from Buffalo, New York, I know the cost of surviving the winter when the weather is at its coldest. Road salt to prevent slips and falls is a necessary and sometimes costly expense, so using upcycled roofing shingles is a great alternative. When ice and frost have arrived, simply lay a path across your sidewalks and walkways using the recycled roofing shingles. Since roofing tiles are durable and designed to withstand all conditions, they effortlessly add strength and stability, gripping your step and preventing falls.