Asphalt shingles have been the main roofing material produced and utilized in the United States for over 100 years. They constitute 70 percent plus of current sloped roofing materials used for both roof replacements and new roofing construction.
Most homeowners choose asphalt shingles because of their affordability, durability, longevity, and availability in an extensive range of colors and styles. Asphalt shingles are also easy to maintain, particularly when their installation is coupled with attention to climate conditions, roof maintenance, and appropriate attic ventilation.
Asphalt shingles have varying degrees of quality and there are guidelines to follow that can be helpful in deciding which ones to use.
- Identifying the different types of asphalt shingles
- Evaluating products and brands from top manufacturers
- Selecting the best type and style of asphalt shingles for a home
Identifying Shingle Types
1. Three-tab Shingles
Three (3-tab) shingles are flat and light and they are approximately 30 inches wide and about 12 inches in height. There is an exposed area of the shingle that is notched, which gives it the look of (3) tabs. The design is reminiscent of slate tiles.
2. Architectural or Dimensional Shingles
Architectural shingles are also identified as dimensional shingles as well as laminate/layered shingles. They feature a thicker base that is composed of fiberglass that is saturated with asphalt. This solid or thicker base layer has a bonded layer that is tabbed and contains more distinct notches.
3. Luxury or Premium Shingles
Luxury shingles are also referred to as ultra-dimensional or premium shingles, and they are also often called architectural shingles. Premium shingles are extremely thick and heavy and can produce a weight of up to 450 pounds per 100 square feet. These shingle types create a higher profile and contain cuts that are similar in appearance to both actual slate and cedar roofing materials.
4. Specialized Asphalt Shingles
Sometimes varying climate extremes can necessitate the need for a different type of shingle, which include:
These type of shingles are made to hold up to pelting hail from 1-1/2 inches to 2 inches in size.
Cool or Solar-resistant Shingles
Cool shingles are designed with lighter colors or they are made with granules that reflect the heat and help reduce roof temperatures. Less heat is penetrating attics and other areas of a home, which means air conditioning use is less.
In wetter climates where algae can stain shingles and cause other problems, shingles are treated to deter staining and inhibit the growth of algae. Algae shingles usually have granules that contain a Scotchgard coating and other algae resistant elements.
Regular asphalt dimensional shingles are manufactured to withstand winds up 110 miles per hours. Warranty allowances can be expanded to give shingles further resistance to winds of 130 miles per hour through reinforced installation approaches, which entail the use of more nails and adhesives. Other strategies include the use of shingles specifically designed for storms through enhanced installation techniques as well as ArmourZone shingles that contain nailing surfaces that are reinforced with a band that is resistant to tears and contains more attachment strength. These reinforced shingles are made to withstand the force of higher wind speeds.
Evaluating Products from Manufacturers
Evaluating products from roofing manufacturers is another important guideline concerning asphalt shingles. There are branded products that have passed the tests of reliability, durability and longevity, and they include roofing shingles manufactured through:
GAF, or General Aniline & Film, has been producing both roofing and other related materials for well over a hundred years. This particular brand is at the head of the line in shingle manufacturing as well as providing various types of shingles that are affordable and reliable. The company produces not only three-tab shingles but top-of-the-line luxury shingles, along with shingles that are resistant to weather, staining and sun damage. Two of their more popular lines are Timberline dimensional shingles and higher ranking shingles in the Camelot and Grand Canyon series.
2. Owens Corning
Though not as widespread as GAF, Owens Corning is another reliable and historic brand that has a decent selection of three-tab shingles as well as some luxury shingles that are Energy Star-rated. There are also lines that include Streak Guard protection. Owens Corning’s best selling and most affordable line is Oakridge shingles with numerous color selections. More expensive shingles such as Duration are available in four different lines that include wind-resistant selections.
CertainTeed provides affordable three-tab shingles and their Saint Gobain line is certainly one of the first-rate premium shingles made. Any warranty protection with CertainTeed is excellent. There are a number of lines in the Landmark series that are resistant to wind, staining and sun exposure. The Northgate line has good flexibility and is made for cold weather. CertainTeed’s more luxurious lines include Arcadia Shake and Grand Manor.
If you’re interested in dimensional shingles, Tamko has both middle of the row price ranges as well as luxury shingles. Their warranties are somewhat average, but claims through the company appear to be somewhat high. Claims may be the result of production inconsistencies in Tamko manufacturing plants. Speaking with a Tamko expert about their product lines is a good way to determine their value. Top Tamko lines include their dimensional shingles (Heritage) and several other lines that include Vintage, and their Premium three-tab shingles (Glass-seal Elite).
Selecting the Type and Style of Asphalt Shingles for a Home
Choosing asphalt shingles doesn’t have to be an ordeal if homeowners have an idea of the different types of asphalt shingles available to them and what best fits their budget, and their type of roof. They also need to understand the positives and negatives with asphalt shingles and decide whether to go with them or another type of roofing material, such as:
Metal Roofing – is more expensive than asphalt shingles, plus shingles are less costly to repair. Though metal will last longer, shingles do eventually require replacement more often than metal would, so total costs may be more over time with shingles.
Clay or Concrete Tiles – are more expensive than asphalt shingles, plus shingles are easier to install and repair. Clay or concrete tiles require professional installation in order to avoid future roof damage because of poor installation or do-it-yourself installation.
Cedar Shingles and Shakes – are costly yet long-lasting, but they and can be subject to fire or insect damage. Asphalt shingles are less expensive, easier to maintain, though they do face replacement over time.
There are good and bad aspects with asphalt shingles, so it is up to the homeowner to weigh the differences and decide what type of shingle meets their roofing needs and budget. The positives with asphalt shingles include:
- lasting – 15-30 years, which hinges on climate, ventilation, and maintenance
- added value
- availability in numerous colors, styles, and different shingle profiles
- fairly easy maintenance
The more negative aspects of asphalt shingles include:
- less durable than clay, concrete, cedar shakes, metal or actual slate
- strict warranties with limited coverage
- faulty installation susceptibility, which can lead to future leaks and damage
Once you have read through the guide and are still unsure of what to expect with asphalt shingles, feel free to complete the online contact form. A representative will get back to you with answers to any questions you may have.