What Type of Asphalt Shingles are The Best: Three-tab vs. Architectural vs. Luxury Shingles

Durable yet affordable, asphalt shingles are the #1 most popular roofing material on the market today. They are seen on homes throughout North America for many reasons, including the fact that they require little to no maintenance compared to other roofing materials, they are affordable and they will last for a couple decades or more. Furthermore, asphalt shingles come in so many shapes, colors and styles, they suit the tastes of just about everyone.

3 types of shingles three-tab, architectural and luxury shingles

Three of the most popular types of asphalt shingles are three-tab, architectural and luxury (designer) shingles. The following is a brief description of each:

  • Three-tab: Once the most popular option, three-tab shingles are still commonly used when the budget is tight. They offer a traditional look and fit a more linear aesthetic.
  • Architectural: Increasingly the most popular option today, architectural shingles, also called laminate or dimensional shingles, are made in so many patterns and styles that they will fit just about any aesthetic need.
  • Luxury (designer): If you’re looking for that slate or shake shingle style, you’ll choose luxury asphalt shingles, which are also called premium and designer shingles.

When it comes to making a decision on which shingle you’ll use, you have to look at your budget, but you also have to see what’s possible given your type of roof and its size. You also have to consider your aesthetic preferences. Most importantly, you should partner with a trusted roofing contractor who can help you make the decision and then install them in a way that will ensure the shingles last a long, long time and look great for years to come.

At VIS Exterior, we’re bringing our skills at roofing to every project we take on, whether its high-end designer shingles or budget-friendly 3-tab shingles. If you’re trying to decide which shingle style will work best on your home, contact us.

What is an asphalt shingle roof?

If you look out at your neighborhood, roughly 80 percent of the roofs you see will be covered in asphalt shingles. These trusted materials are affordable, but they’re also not as complex to install as other roofing materials, which means roofers can complete the project relatively fast. And while it still takes years of training and installation experience to get it right, asphalt shingles are easier to install than other material types.

Asphalt shingle roofing & gutters

On the top of the shingle is the protective layer of granules, often made of ceramic. The granules help resist damage caused by impact with fast moving debris from trees or hail.

Asphalt shingles are also bonded together with sealant as they are situated on the rooftop. It’s often a thermally-activated chemical at various spots on the shingle. Shingle durability can differ per brand, so make sure you check in with your roofing contractor to ensure they’re using quality products that will last.

Some shingles are made to prevent various types of growth, particularly algae. And while the primary role shingles play is as a protective layer, they are also designed to help control the climate inside the home. For example, instead of soaking in the heat of the sun and distributing it into the home, some shingles are made to reflect ultraviolet light away from the home.

Two different categories of asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are made with a base layer of fiberglass or organic material, such as cellulose fibers. That is the primary difference between the two categories, as the remaining layers are very similar. For example, atop of the base layer is asphalt, which is primarily used for waterproofing. The asphalt is an end-product of oil refining and is similar to what you see on roads, but the asphalt used in shingles is much tougher.

Organic shingles

Some shingles are made with organic base materials, such as cellulose fibers that come from wood. They are thick, flexible and durable. This type has been around the longest, often made from recycled paper that has been soaked in asphalt and compressed.

The differences are subtle, but organic shingles are more flexible than fiberglass and are therefore more tear resistant. If your area is prone to high winds, you might consider organic shingles. Finally, organic shingles are easier to install in cold weather and are better able to handle extreme changes in temperature.

Fiberglass shingles

Fiberglass shingles are more popular today, probably because they are less costly to produce and are generally more resistant to high heat than organic shingles.

Some people refer to the fiberglass shingles as “composition,” which are also lighter than organic shingles. For added protection, fiberglass-shingle roofs are laid on top of an asphalt-soaked felt layer, which is often nailed into the roof decking.

Affordability is one of the main reasons homeowners choose asphalt shingles. With upwards of 80 percent of homes in North America covered in asphalt shingles, they’ve become the standard/traditional aesthetic of homes in the U.S.

Benefits list of LP wood siding installation

Here’s why asphalt shingles are still the most preferred roofing materials in the U.S:

Asphalt shingles fit just about any aesthetic preference

Think of a color and you can probably find an asphalt shingle that matches or comes close to matching it. From a wide variety of finishes and styles, shingle manufacturers have created a diverse range from which to choose. Whether it’s a three-tab simple and linear style or a more complex architectural and designer shingle, you can keep it simple or get fancier.

If you love the look of slate tile roofs, but the budget doesn’t allow for something so opulent, you can choose asphalt shingles from manufacturers who make their shingles that look like expensive slate tiles or cedar shakes. If your home has a unique design, it doesn’t necessarily need to be roofed with exotic materials to compliment the architecture – you can make your home unique with the variety of different asphalt shingles on the market today and save a lot of money while achieving the look you’re going for.

Asphalt shingles are durable and have a long life

A couple of important things come to the minds of homeowners as they approach a roofing project. First, they want their new roof to protect everything under it. Second, they want it to last a long time so they don’t have to take on another roofing project for at least a couple of decades or more.

Fortunately, asphalt shingles are known for their durability, which is why manufacturers are comfortable slapping a 15- to 30-year warranty on their products, but these warranties are sometimes only honored if your roofing contractor is certified to install them.

Research and development over the years has produced some new manufacturing steps that allow shingles to hold up in inclimate weather, such as hailstorms, ice storms, drastically changing temperatures and high winds that produce flying debris that can puncture substandard shingles.

Asphalt shingles can benefit an architecturally unique home

Whether you’ve got an architecturally unique home or one that is large and has many features, such as dormers, skylights and chimneys, asphalt shingles are a good fit. The caveat is that it is only recommended to use asphalt on homes that have a minimum roof slope of 2:12, which means for every foot of slope, your roof will rise in pitch by 2 inches.

Some manufacturers will recommend 4:12. Meeting the minimum slope reduces the chances of lateral water moving around the shingles and eventually becoming a source for leaks into the interior of the home.

Asphalt shingles save money

If making a decision on roofing materials was based solely on cost, asphalt would win every time. While a slate tile roof can last 100 years, you can pay up to $16 per square foot compared to the lowest possible price of asphalt shingles, which is around $1.50 (and can be as much as $5.50 depending on a number of variables).

Not only are the materials less expensive, roofers can install an asphalt shingle roof quite fast compared to other material types, which is another way you save money – you’re paying less for the labor, which is the most expensive part of a roofing project.

Asphalt shingles are kind to the environment

It wasn’t long ago that when an asphalt shingle roof was torn off, it went directly to the landfill where it takes roughly 300 years for them to break down. Today, asphalt shingles are diverted from the landfill and taken to recycling centers where they can be used for a variety of purposes, including asphalt for roads.

There are also companies that manufacture the shingles dedicated to eco-friendly practices and seek out recycled materials. For example, GAF, a major supplier of roofing products, has recently invested in using recycled shingles in its new quality products.

Asphalt shingles can lower utility bills

Asphalt shingles and underlayment materials shield homes from summer heat. Most asphalt shingles manufactured today are built to repel solar heat and keep the surface temperatures from spiking, which protects the home’s interior.

Rather than put an HVAC system into overdrive, the reflected heat allows the system to maintain an even keel and keep the home comfortable without the high costs associated with a stressed HVAC system. When factoring in the cost savings related to utility bills, the value of asphalt shingles becomes even more apparent.

Asphalt shingles protect homes from inclimate weather

Given the severity of storms in the Chicago area, structures need to be protected, whether it’s from hailstorm, sunlight, ice storms or high winds that whip debris onto the roof. Fortunately, asphalt shingles offer a barrier of protection against all of them. For example, impact-rated shingles, which are often labeled as “Class 4,” do an excellent job of protecting a home. A secondary benefit is that some insurance companies offer a lower premium for those who use this product.

While no shingle can survive tornadic activity, the high winds that come with the traditional thunderstorm are not as big of an issue now as they were with shingles manufactured decades ago. Manufacturers of top-quality shingles put their products through comprehensive testing, which ensures they will hold up to wind and not let moisture seep in.

Asphalt shingles resist algae and mildew growth

Shaded areas of roofs don’t get sunlight, which might seem like a good thing during the summer months, but it also means any time moisture is introduced, the sun can’t evaporate it, which leads to mildew or algae growth. Organic growth can represent as black spots on the roof, but other than being unsightly, these growths can sometimes lead to compromised structural durability.

Fortunately, some modern asphalt shingles are made to help resist algae and mildew growth. When contractors work on roofs that are shaded by surrounding trees, they know to use shingles that have a built-in algae resistant feature, thereby protecting the structure’s curb appeal and adding a layer of protection against damage.

Asphalt shingles are easily installed and repaired

Ease of installation benefits roofers and property owners alike, which is a major reason why asphalt shingles are so popular. Furthermore, the vast majority of roofing companies specialize in this material. Far, far fewer contractors have the expertise to install more exotic materials, such as terracotta, tile or slate, which means you should have no problem scheduling your asphalt shingle roofing project.

Asphalt shingles that are damaged by debris or high winds are easy to replace, which is another reason to choose this material. The majority of roofing contractors have the experience necessary to make quick and easy repairs with shingles, which isn’t the case with other roofing materials.

Asphalt shingles are easy to maintain

When asphalt shingles are installed properly, they last a long time and are easy to maintain. When you work with a quality contractor, they choose only the highest rated shingles from trusted manufacturers, which takes the worry out of taking on frequent maintenance tasks.

There are environmental factors that must be taken into account, as well. For example, the extreme temperatures, high winds, hail, snow, ice and debris, as well as algae and mildew growth will all have an impact on the life of the shingles, regardless of what manufacturer makes them. Fortunately, should damages occur, maintenance on shingles is not a complex issue.

For properties shaded by an abundance of trees, it’s recommended to use algae-resistant shingles, as this will require less maintenance than using non-algae-resistant shingles. Essentially, the treated shingles allow for faster drying time following precipitation, which means the organic growth doesn’t have the time it needs to take advantage of the moisture it feeds upon.

There are so many advantages to installing asphalt shingles that it’s easy to see why so many roofs throughout the U.S. and elsewhere are covered with them. From great curb appeal to long life, asphalt shingles bring the advantages homeowners are looking for today.

What are the 3 types of asphalt shingles?

If you’ve decided the roofing material of preference is asphalt shingles, know that you have three options in regards to the type of asphalt shingles on the market today. The one you ultimately choose will most likely be determined by how your roof was designed, i.e. slope, number of vents, skylights, chimneys, dormers and other obstacles.

Another important factor is cost. If your budget only allows for the least expensive type and it is suitable for your roof’s design, you’ll only have the one option. However, with more extravagant designs come a higher price point, which is an option for those who have a more expansive budget.

You want your shingles to look great, but you also want them to protect your home, which is another factor in deciding which of the three to use. The following information covers the three types of asphalt shingles and will bring more insights allowing you to make a fact-based decision.

3-tab asphalt shingles

Three-tab shingles get their name due to the way they are manufactured; there are three distinctive strips per shingle, which is also why they are referred to as “strip” shingles. They are the most basic of the three and retail at a lower price point.

Three-tab asphalt shingle roof

Aesthetically, 3-tab shingles are flat compared to the other two. The flat (linear) appearance is due to them being made with one layer of asphalt. While the flatness might be the appeal to some homeowners, it’s the low cost that makes them one of the most widely used roofing materials today. They weigh less and are easier to handle and install than architecture or luxury shingles, which means you’ll also pay less for labor.

While homeowners have chosen architecture and luxury shingles with more frequency today due to their curb appeal, 3-tab shingles are still the go-to option for contractors building inexpensive homes. But it’s not always about cost: some homeowners simply prefer the linear design of strip shingles.

Architectural (Dimensional) asphalt shingles

During the 1980s, roofing material manufacturers introduced architectural shingles, which are also referred to as laminate shingles. Slowly, they began to eat into the three-tab shingle market, as homeowners were drawn to their distinctive style and the curb appeal they add to a property.

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While manufacturers might differ in subtle ways in their approach to making architectural shingles, most of them are made with two layers of asphalt, sometimes more. The thicker design makes them more durable and most are rated to last 30 years.

Given their thickener appearance, they achieve a more dimensional look. Some manufacturers have developed ways to replicate the look of natural slate or even wood shake, which explains the appeal and growing popularity of architectural shingles. And while they cost more than 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles generally come with a longer warranty than their budget-friendly cousins.

Luxury (Premium) asphalt shingles

As the name would imply, luxury shingles bring an entirely different look to a roof than architectural or three-tab shingles, and that look is often associated with luxury. As a premium asphalt shingle, built thick and durable, they come in a variety of shapes and can also mimic more expensive roofing materials, like cedar and slate.

GAF designer asphalt shingle roof

When a homeowner wants to bypass the cost and maintenance associated with high-dollar material such as cedar, they choose the more affordable luxury shingle option. And while the high-quality laminated shingles are more budget friendly than cedar or slate, they are definitely more expensive than the other two asphalt shingle types.

Luxury shingles are made in many shapes and colors that will appeal to just about any homeowner’s visual preference. Furthermore, for more upscale homes and for homes with a unique design, topping it off with luxury shingles completes the overall appearance of the home and offers unmatched curb appeal.

Comparing the three types of roof shingles

Making the decision on which asphalt shingle to use can be intimidating to homeowners. Weighing the initial cost against how long they will last, the warranties offered with each type, the shape and color, the resistance to the elements – they’re all factors that help inform which one will be the optimal choice.

There are also factors involving algae growth, fire resistance, the ability to hold up against punishing hailstorms and the prevalent heavy winds common in the Midwest to consider when making a decision. While all asphalt shingles are considered durable, some are constructed with more tolerance for inclimate weather than others.

  1. What are the styles and colors of asphalt shingles?
  2. How long do asphalt shingles last?
  3. Are asphalt shingles wind, hail, fire and algae resistant?
  4. How much does it cost to install an asphalt shingle roof?
  5. What are the warranties of shingles?
  6. What are the best manufacturers of asphalt shingles?

The following information will help you more fully understand three different types of roof shingles, their qualities and how they compare to each other.

1. APPEARANCE

What are the styles and colors of asphalt shingles?

Name a color and style and there is probably an asphalt shingle on the market that matches it. The asphalt shingle has transformed in recent years and manufacturers have focused on offering more diverse options. In fact, some roofs you see that you believe to be slate or cedar might actually be asphalt shingles. Whether you want an understated look that three-tab shingles offer or a more stylized appearance that luxury shingles offer on a home, the options are vast.

The most popular shingle colors evolve over time, but today they are black, grey, silver and bronze. But you’ll also see brown, dark brown, green, beige, various hues of red, blue and blue green with great frequency. Some homes achieve a more individualized look by mixing the colors, but generally within lighter and darker hues of the same color scheme. For example, some homes will have an asphalt shingle color scheme that mimics a terracotta roof.

From the simple and flat style of a 3-tab shingle to the more durable and dimensional look of an architectural shingle to the refined quality and unique appearance of luxury shingles, they’re all made in different styles to suit a variety of tastes and preferences for cool-roof and energy-saving needs.

Three-tab asphalt shingle roof styles and colors

While three-tab shingles aren’t as popular as they were 30 years ago, they are still prevalent and widely used by contractors throughout the U.S. As one of the most economical choices of roofing material, they will likely always have a place on roofs.

GAF traditional 3-tab shingles

General Aniline & Film, better known as GAF, is a leading manufacturer of shingles, including 3-tab shingles, which are durable, come in a variety of colors and offer a great option for those looking for a budget-friendly shingle. They are available with 25- and 30-year limited warranties. GAF puts their three-tab shingles through a variety of testing for quality assurance.

GAF Marquis WeatherMax® 3-tab shingles

Looking for traditional appeal but with classic detail and lasting performance? That’s what the Marquis line offers. This line passes the 110 mph and 150 mph wind performance in controlled lab testing. It includes a Micro Weave Core that allows it to hold up to extreme cold and resists tearing.

GAF Royal Sovereign 3-tab shingles

GAF’s Royal Sovereign keeps with the traditional 3-tab aesthetic, but with an added timeless look that separates it from other three-tab products. The company claims more than 10 million of them and counting have been installed on roofs across the U.S. Color lock ceramic granules keep the shingles from fading, but also add a layer of protection against the elements.

Owens Corning Supreme® 3-tab shingles

The world’s largest manufacturer of fiberglass composite shingles. The Supreme 3-tab shingles are weather resistant and engineered to resist algae growth and the resulting discoloration with its Streakguard formula. They have a Class A UL fire rating and are Energy Star rated.

CertainTeed XT™25 3-tab shingles

CertainTeed XT 25 shingles are manufactured with its patented StreakFighter technology, which offers reliable and long-term protection against the discoloration associated with algae growth. This line also utilizes CertaSeal, which is a high-grade adhesive made from a blend of asphalts and polymers, sealing shingles together for maximum protection.

TAMKO® Elite Glass-Seal® 3-tab shingles

The Elite Glass-Seal shingle comes in everything from black to vivid colors, offering a unique flair that brings design and beauty to a home. Featuring self-sealing technology, these shingles are made from fiberglass mat, which has been coated on both sides with a layer of weathering-grade asphalt. They are surfaced with ceramic granules for added protection.

Working with a qualified roofing contractor that only uses tested and proven durable shingles, you can get a great looking roof that will last for a long time while not breaking the bank. Three-tab shingles might not be as thick or as luxurious as other types, but are a quality option that remains popular today.

Architectural asphalt shingle roof styles and colors

Steadily growing in popularity, architectural asphalt shingles are available in a variety of colors and styles that offer a dimensional aesthetic. From GAF to Owens to CertainTeed, the following are some of the most in-demand architectural shingles on the market today.

GAF Timberline® lifetime architectural shingles

Offering sophistication along with durability, Timberline shingles are a multi-layered product that are one of the best selling shingles for the company. They are priced competitively, but are also a high-quality product. They offer strength against severe weather and are available in everything from earth-tone colors to the traditional black and many in between.

Owens Corning Oakridge architectural shingles

The Oakridge shingles are laminated and provide what the company refers to as “premium protection” while also offering “impressive curb appeal.” With a full double layer in the nailing zone, the Oakridge shingles offer greater integrity and better holding power compared to single layer nail zones. They have a warm and inviting look and come in a variety of colors.

Owens Corning Trudefinition Duration Shingles

As the name would infer, the Trudefinition line is extremely durable and offers protection as well as a preferable aesthetic. The SureNail Technology offers a triple layer of protection in the nailing zone that provides superior holding power and will hold up to stiff winds.

CertainTeed’s Landmark™ PRO roofing shingles

The Landmark shingles are made with “Max Def” colors, which are eye-catching, but this product is also double laminated to replicate the dimensional appearance of wood shake. They are Class A fire resistant and have the StreakFighter algae-resistant 15-year warranty.

TAMKO Heritage shingles

Known for their vivid colors and dramatic style, the Heritage series is a laminated asphalt shingle that adds striking beauty to complement a home. When you want to make your home a focal point with classic, traditional shades, the Heritage shingles will be a great option. From charming greys to elegant reds to earth tones, there are a variety of colors from which to choose.

Working with the right roofing contractor, you will be in good hands and your home will be adorned with the right architectural shingles. There are many on the market, but these listed above are some of the leading options for top-rated contractors who are focused on creating value for their customers.

Luxury asphalt shingle roof styles and colors

For homeowners with a flexible budget and taste for the finer things, the most extravagant (and most expensive) shingles are an option, and luxury asphalt shingles definitely fit the bill as “most expensive.” Fortunately, money spent on these shingles comes with no buyers’ remorse, as they are among the most durable and the most visually stunning. The following are some of the best on the market.

GAF Designer shingles

Looking for the appearance of natural slate and don’t want to pay the price for it? That’s what you get with GAF’s Designer shingles – a look of something completely fancy but without the high price tag. They are built durable with the company’s patented Advanced Protection process, which makes them fire and wind resistant. With seven different designs from which to choose, you have options, including slate in eight colors – all offering an old world elegance.

Owens Corning TruDefinition™ Duration®

Owens Corning is a leader in the roofing material industry, and they make the TruDefinition Duration shingles for greater contrast and dimension to any roof. They create a dramatic effect by using multiple granular colors, which provide a shadowing effect and an exclusive color combination, which adds the appearance of depth to the roof.

CertainTeed’s premium shingles

CertainTeed’s premium shingles are offered in its Landmark Series of designer roofing shingles. Built for durability as well as its exemplary aesthetics, the Landmark Series is made with CertainTeed’s patented technology, including NailTrak for improved nailing QuadraBond advanced layering for better adhesion and StreakFighter for algae resistance.

  • CertainTeed’s Grand Manor luxury shingles
    Regardless of the angle you view them, Grand Manor luxury shingles look amazing. These are especially great on homes with steep-sloped roofs, as they add wonderful depth and dimension. This line is for those who want that natural slate look, but it’s also extremely durable and is made to safeguard against uplift during heavy winds.
  • CertainTeed’s Presidential shake luxury shingles
    CertainTeed refers to the Presidential shake shingle as the “founding father of wood shake replicas.” It’s an intricate design that is architecturally beautiful. It’s obviously less expensive than real wood shake, but another benefit is that they practically require no maintenance. And unlike real wood, these shingles don’t warp or crack.

TAMKO Heritage Vintage shingles

The sawtooth design is what the Heritage Vintage shingles are known for, providing a unique, individualistic appearance to a home. They are built so durable that they come with a limited lifetime warranty. If you want striking depth and angular lines that will give your home years and years of curb appeal, this is the product for you.

Luxury shingles might be the most expensive asphalt shingle on the market, but they are far less costly than premium materials like slate and wood shake. One of the biggest perks of choosing luxury shingles over premium materials is that you get the similar magnificent look, but without all the maintenance.

2. LONGEVITY

How long do asphalt shingles last?

Mother Nature plays a big part in the life of your asphalt shingle roof. While the technology in manufacturing shingles has improved vastly over the years, massive winds are going to take their toll. However, under normal circumstances, which includes ice storms, hail, heavy downpours and high winds during thunderstorms, asphalt shingles will protect your home anywhere from 15 to 30 years, perhaps even longer.

Siding & old roofing replacement

Another aspect to consider is the architecture of the home. For example, steep roofs tend to last longer than those with a shallow slope because water drains off quickly, which means no moisture is allowed to remain long enough to cause damage.

If your home is situated among shade trees, algae and mildew growth can impact the life of the roof. While UV rays will eventually begin to wear down the shingles, it’s also important in evaporating water. Water is what algae and mildew feed off of, so if moisture is not present, there is less likelihood of growth occurring.

What factors impact how long your roof lasts?

Ice, snow, hail, rain, UV light, organic growth and wind aren’t the only factors that impact how long your roof lasts. You also have to take into effect the craftsmanship behind the installation of the shingles and other roofing components. The following are all important factors that will impact its longevity.

Quality of the installation workmanship

Roofers must be backed by years of experience. Only choose a contractor that has a full-time team of experts capable of tackling any situation.

Environmental conditions

The best roofers know which materials to use based on the environmental conditions of the areas they do their work. They will choose materials that are built to withstand such things as extreme temperatures, high winds and potential algae growth.

The quality of materials used

If you opt for bargain basement roofing materials, expect to get bargain basement results. The shingles built by the best manufacturers will last up to 30 years or more.

The type of roofing material used

From using the right roofing nails to installing the right materials to prevent ice dams, there are a number of areas that can be negatively impacted when the contractor doesn’t know which materials to use.

At VIS Exterior, we have many years of experience roofing homes and we have amassed a knowledge base that ensures our customers will not have to undergo a roofing project for at least a couple of decades. We’re focused on applying our expertise so your roof lasts a long, long time.

The different asphalt shingle roof types and how long they last

Manufacturers have different approaches to how they produce asphalt shingles. Furthermore, they make shingles for all types of occasions that can range from price to durability to aesthetics. The following information offers an estimate of how long the different types of shingles will last on a home.

Average three-tab asphalt shingle roof lifespan

Being the shingle that often goes on budget homes, the least costly shingle is the three-tab variety that can last up to 25 years. However, those manufactured with inferior materials might only last around 10 years, whereas decently manufactured three-tab shingles will last around 20 years.

If your area is prone to big wind storms and hail, you should consider a more durable shingle, as some 3-tab shingles can only stand up to winds as high as 60 to 70 mph. Also, they are prone to something called thermal shock, which is damage that occurs after prolonged exposure to sunlight followed by a rapid temperature change.

Average architectural asphalt shingle roof lifespan

Weighing roughly 50 percent more than three-tab shingles, the thicker and more durable architecture shingles will last around 30 years, though some are estimated to last around 40 years. However, despite the durability of these shingles, areas that get hit hard with storms might only get 15 years out of them.

Architectural shingles can handle wind uplifts of up to 110 mph, however, some manufacturers that produce the six nail shingle will boost that maximum up to 130 mph. Assuming environmental factors are preferable and the installation process was carried out by professionals, these shingles can be a once-in-a-lifetime project for many homeowners.

Average luxury asphalt shingle roof lifespan

Luxury asphalt shingles are sometimes referred to as “50-year shingles.” However, they share many manufacturing similarities with architectural shingles, so it’s not unusual for these to last 25 to 30 years with some hitting the 40 year mark before needing to be replaced.

As a premium shingle at a premium price, homeowners expect to not only add curb appeal with them, but a curb appeal that will far outlast anything a three-tab shingle can offer. Again, they have to come from a trusted shingle manufacturer and be installed by a quality contractor for them to get maximum life out of the shingle.

There is a lot that goes into properly installing a roofing system and that includes ensuring the home and roof are ventilated (breathing) correctly, underlayment is properly installed and that the shingles are of quality and have been nailed to the roof to the manufacturer’s specifications. Working with a roofing contractor with years of experience will prevent having to revisit a roofing project for decades.

3. RESISTANCE

Can asphalt shingles stand up to wind, fire, hail and algae?

Everyone wants their roof to provide some curb appeal, but it’s main objective is to protect the home. Asphalt shingles being produced today do more than keep moisture out. They are built to reduce the chance of fire breaking out on the rooftop, are puncture resistant and will stand up to hail storms and will also prevent algae growth.

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Wind resistance of asphalt roofing shingles

Wind is among the leading causes of roof damage. While manufacturers have improved the wind resistance of shingles, not all of them are made alike. Therefore, some shingles will be more resistant to wind damage than others. It’s also inherent on the roofing contractor to correctly nail each shingle to the roof.

Quality asphalt shingles are rated for their wind resistant properties. American Standard Test Method (ASTM) D3161 is a test where fan-induced air is blown over shingles at varying speeds to rate their wind resistance. The testing lasts for two hours with wind reaching speeds of 60 mph (Class A shingles), 90 mph (Class D shingles) and 110 mph (Class F). Throughout the testing, experts monitor the shingles for damage.

Another test, labeled D7158, introduces uplift forces on shingles. When a shingle passes this test at 90 mph, it’s rated as a Class D shingle. Class G shingles can withstand upwind forces of 120 mph. Class H shingles pass upwind speeds of 150 mph.

Most low-cost three-tab shingles are in the Class A range, meaning they can withstand winds of 60 mph. Architectural shingles are built to withstand wind speeds of 80 mph to 120 mph, but that can vary. For example, the TruDefinition architectural shingles, which are heavier and thicker than 3-tab shingles and many architectural shingles, can withstand winds of 130 mph.

There is a relationship between weight and resistance. This explains how a square of three-tab shingles weighing 240 lbs is far less resistant to wind than an architectural shingle, a square of which can weigh up to 440 lbs.

Hail resistance of asphalt roofing shingles

To protect a home, the shingles must be resistant to hail, but this resistance will vary from shingle to shingle depending on how they are manufactured. Hail resistance is ranked using the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) standard 2218, which rates shingles from Class 1 to Class 4 in impact resistance.

In the UL test, steel balls are dropped on shingles at a specific speed. Larger steel balls, which have more mass, can create more damage. It’s estimated that hail must be at least an inch in diameter to damage asphalt shingles, so the UL test begins with a 1.25-in. projectile. If a shingle can handle no more than a 1.25-in. projectile, it is rated as Class 1.

  • Class 1 = 1.25-in. projectile
  • Class 2 = 1.50-in. projectile
  • Class 3 = 1.75-in. projectile
  • Class 4 = 2-in. projectile

Obviously, the higher the class, the more resistant the shingle is to hail. The largest hailstone ever recorded in the Chicago area is 4.75 in. That is a rarity, as hail storms normally produce hail less than 2 in. in diameter. It’s recommended to choose a Class 3 or 4 asphalt shingle for roofing projects in this area.

Higher rated shingles are built thicker and offer better durability, which means they will cost more, but the perk is that some insurance companies will offer premium discounts on Class 4-rated shingles.

Fire resistance of asphalt roofing shingles

Fire resistance is also a factor that quality roofing contractors take into consideration before they install shingles on a home. Underwriters’ Laboratories also has a test for rating fire resistance on shingles and has three ratings – Class A, B and C.

Class A denotes a shingle that offers maximum fire resistance, meaning it is effective against severe fire exposures. Since asphalt shingles are made of materials that are fire resistant, most of them fall into the Class A rating.

When a shingle is rated at Class B, this means they are effective at resisting moderate fire exposure. Pressure treated wood roofing products, such as shakes, usually fall into this class.

Organic materials, such as cedar shake that are untreated, are combustible and are usually placed in the lowest fire resistance range, which is Class C. They offer only a small degree of protection to the roof deck.

Algae resistance of asphalt roofing shingles

It is often said that algae doesn’t damage asphalt shingles – it just makes them look bad. However, shingles that have limestone as part of the components can slowly be eaten away by blue-green algae, having a negative effect on its durability.

For roofs that are prone to moisture buildup, most often because of excessive shade, it is recommended to use an asphalt shingle that includes algae resistance in their manufacturing process. These shingles are often called AR (algae resistant) shingles. The most common method for adding AR to a shingle is to manufacture them with copper granules. The copper ions bind to algae, preventing them from proliferating by essentially preventing photosynthesis.

Roofing material manufacturers are focused today on making sure their products last a long time and they have come up with a variety of methods to account for environmental factors that are unique to specific areas. When you partner with a trusted roofing contractor, you have the chance to convey information regarding wind, hail, fire and algae that might be particularly severe in your area and come to an informed decision on choosing shingles made to prevent risk.

4. PRICING

How much does it cost to install an asphalt shingle roof?

royal siding shingle roofing

One of the most common questions homeowners have about roofing projects is in regard to cost. There is no simple answer to the question, but to get an idea on cost, think about three important questions:

  1. How big is your roof?
  2. How steep is your roof?
  3. What kind of asphalt shingles are you going to use in the project?

All of these things matter, because the larger your roof is, the more materials it will take to complete the project and it will also cost more in labor. When a roof is steep, installation is more difficult, which also adds more time/labor to the project. Finally, roofing materials range in price. Many low-cost projects will employ 3-tab shingles, as they are the most affordable. But if you choose a more durable shingle, such as the architectural or luxury shingle, you’re going to pay far more for them, which will hike up the total cost of the project.

In the Chicago area, the cost of replacing a roof on an average-sized home is $8,000. Depending on various factors, your roof could cost as little as $5,000 or more than $10,000 for a larger and more complex home where more expensive materials are used.

To get a better idea of what your project will cost in shingles alone, get a good idea of the square footage of your roof. If your roof is 1,700 square feet (the average for the U.S.) and you’re paying between 80 cents and $1.20 per square foot (the average costs in the U.S.), it will cost between $1,360 and $2,040 for shingles alone.

Labor costs can also vary, but it generally accounts for around 60 percent of the overall cost of the project. By adding $3 per square foot of roof, you can get a better idea of what your labor costs might run. You also have to take into account the complexity of the roof. If you have skylights, an abundance of vents, dormers and other items, it takes roofers longer to work with and around them, adding to the labor cost.

Asphalt shingles are often placed atop existing shingles. However, if it is determined that the old shingles need to come off, expect to pay around $1,250 for that service. Most building codes only allow for two layers of shingles on a roof, so if yours already has two, expect to incur the removal fee.

It’s important to note here that skimping on labor often produces poor results that will cost you in the long run. When you bring in a contractor with too-good-to-be-true labor fees, you’re often getting an inexperienced team that doesn’t know how to properly install roofing products, which can lead to leaks and having to completely redo it sooner than expected.

The 3 types of asphalt shingles come in at different price points to fit your budget:

Traditional three-tab asphalt shingles costs

As the most affordable type of asphalt shingle, three-tab shingles are the most popular for homeowners on a budget. But because they’re made with a paper base and are much thinner than more expensive shingles, they don’t last as long as the other two types, which must be considered in the long-term costs of a roof. For example, if you pay $1,500 less for your shingles and they only last for 15 years, you’re looking at paying for all the labor and material costs associated with a reroofing project perhaps 15 or 25 years sooner than you would have if you chose architectural or luxury shingles.

The average cost of 3-tab shingles per square foot of roof is around 90 cents. For a home with an 1,800 square-foot roof, the cost for the shingles would be $1,620. Prices will vary depending on which shingle you use, as some are built with more protection and can cost more.

Architectural asphalt shingles costs

Given that architectural shingles are made more durable, are thicker and have more material in them providing a sculpted look, they cost more than 3-tab shingles. Also, some architectural shingles are made with special properties that make them resistant to algae, wind and fire, which can also add to the expense.

Coming in at between $1 and $1.50 per square foot, shingles for an 1,800 square-foot roof costs between $1,800 and $2,700. Keep in mind that while you might be paying more than $1,000 more for these shingles than for three-tab shingles, they last much longer and offer more protection.

Luxury (designer) asphalt shingles costs

Topping out as the most expensive asphalt shingles on the market, luxury shingles are high-performance products, which means they last a long time. And more importantly, they look stunning. However, all this “luxury” comes at a cost.

You will almost always pay twice as much for luxury shingles as you will for architectural shingles, which means you can plan on spending between $2.30 and $2.55 per square foot of shingles.

While budgets often determine what type of shingle will go on a roof, thinking long term and getting the most value out of your project that you can should also influence your decisions. And while it’s difficult to offer exact cost amounts without consulting a contractor, you will get a better idea of the projected costs just by multiplying your square footage by the cost of the shingle per square foot.

5. WARRANTY

Do all of the 3 types of asphalt shingles come with the same warranty?

Warranty parameters will vary by shingle type and by manufacturer. Another factor to consider about warranties is that some manufacturers will only honor them if the shingles are installed by a certified roofing contractor. And this makes perfect sense because no shingle will reach its expected lifespan if it is not installed correctly. Non-certified contractors are known for using cheap labor and the results speak for themselves.

durabillity

Warranties from quality manufacturers often cover such things as defects, including curling and cupping, premature loss of the protective granules or splitting due to thermal variations. When choosing shingles, your contractor should have plenty of experience with manufacturers who offer long warranties that cover you should the roofing system fail.

Warranties will also come with “limited lifetime” stipulations, which is an industry standard for asphalt shingles and means they will prorate their settlement payout based on the age of the shingle when you make the claim. So, your warranty will payout much more in the first year than it will in the 20th year.

Warranties don’t often cover the cost of labor, but your contractor should offer some relief there, as they should happily guarantee their work. Note that when Mother Nature comes down hard (tornado, trees, etc.) on a home, no shingle can be expected to hold up to such forces, so your warranty won’t cover you. However, your home insurance should have you covered.

Manufacturer warranties:

Three-tab asphalt shingle warranty

Top-rated manufacturers of three-tab asphalt shingles will offer a limited 30-year warranty, but the average is between 20 and 25 years.

Architectural asphalt shingle warranty

Standard coverage is around 30 years for architectural shingles, but some companies offer extended coverage for lifetime warranties that actually span around 50 years.

Luxury asphalt shingle warranty

Similar to architectural shingles, luxury shingles average around 30 years on their warranties, but also can be extended to 50 years, which will cover product defects, and in some cases, workmanship defects.

Warranties vary so much that it would be wise to have your contractor walk you through what’s offered by each manufacturer. Having your contractor help you choose the right options is just another reason why it pays to partner with high-quality professionals with plenty of experience.

6. MANUFACTURERS

What are the best manufacturers/brands of asphalt shingles?

VIS Exterior has made a reputation for offering top-notch services to our clients. We’re certified, licensed, insured and only work with the best asphalt shingle manufacturers. This ensures that when we install a roofing system, our workmanship, along with the quality of the shingle, makes every project a long-term success. The following are some of the best manufacturers of roofing materials.

GafElk CertainTeed IKO Tamko Owens Corning Pinnacle

GAF asphalt shingles

There’s a reason GAF has sold more roofing products than anyone else – they make a quality asphalt shingle. From three-tab to high-end luxury products, GAF brings exceptional shingles to the market and thoroughly tests their products for quality assurance.

While the company’s reputation for manufacturing durable products is long-standing, they also remain competitive in price. One of the most popular lines from GAF is Timberline, which is the architectural shingle that comes in a variety of colors and styles. Timberline is built with solar reflective technology, making it a good match for sunny and hot climates. But it is also designed to hold up to extremely cold temperatures, which is why the shingles can be installed in areas of the country that have extreme climates. Furthermore, Timberline’s wind resistance abilities also make them popular in areas prone to hurricanes.

The GAF Timberline series is a hit with VIS Exterior customers, especially those who want looks and durability but without the high price tag.

Owens Corning asphalt shingles

As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of fiberglass composites, Owens Corning has become a well-known brand renowned for its insulation and roofing products, including asphalt shingles. The company also has a history of developing advanced fire protection products, including work with NASA on spacesuits.

But when it comes to asphalt shingles, Owens Corning offers shingles in all three tiers, from three-tab to luxury shingles. One of its bestsellers is Duration from the TruDefinition line, which offers dramatic color and contrast, as well as a dimensional look that has tons of curb appeal.

Aside from the look and durability of the Owens Corning shingles, they attract contractors and homeowners alike with their extended warranties. On top of that, Owens Corning has some of the most competitive prices across the range of their shingles, which only strengthens their popularity in the market.

CertainTeed asphalt shingles

CertainTeed shingles are like the Ritz-Carlton of shingles; you get luxury but also have to pay the premium price. These shingles offer superior quality and have long attracted homeowners who want the best possible material protecting their home. When the budget is not an issue and you really want asphalt shingles rather than slate, terracotta or wood shingles, CertainTeed will not disappoint.

Fortunately, the company has in recent years begun to manufacture shingles that don’t cost an arm and a leg. For example, the Landmark shingle is priced right, but still offers high-quality and reliability. It protects the home while beautifying it. The durability comes from the dual-layered design that practically replicates the dimensionality of wood shake.

If you’re on a budget, CertainTeed also makes a three-tab shingle called the XT 25 that is considered the top of its class, offering excellent protection from weathering. Slate grey, weathered wood and slate black are some of the more popular options.

If you’re looking for ultimate luxury, Presidential Shake is going to grab your attention. Considered the “founding father of wood shake replicas,” Presidential Shake is a top tier performer, bringing the curb appeal of hand-split cedar shake, intricate shingle design and a rich color palette, but is less expensive than real wood shake and definitely more practical in the maintenance department.

Tamko asphalt shingles

Tamko has manufactured quality roofing products since 1944, introducing its first shingles in 1945. The company’s reputation is built around the motto of “work hard, do your best, be fair and honest and hire people you can trust to do the same.” This motto matches what many quality roofing contractors strive for.

Among the most popular shingles from Tamko are the architectural and mid-range luxury lines. One of its best performing and top-selling is the Heritage line, which is an architectural shingle with a standard 110 mph wind resistance warranty. However, with the six-nail application, they push the limits up to 130 mph.

For added durability, Tamko offers the Heritage Proline StormFighter IR, which is its laminated, fiberglass asphalt shingle featuring a polyester mat for reinforcement. For those looking for the wood shake aesthetic, Tamko offers the Heritage Woodgate shingle, which creates a rugged yet defined beauty.

Homeowners shouldn’t expect to be experts on quality shingles, which is why when you bring in the right roofing contractor, you get all the advice you need to make an informed decision on which shingles will be a perfect match for your roof. Furthermore, quality contractors only use the best shingles on the market.

Which is the best type of asphalt shingle for your roof replacement project?

The best shingle for one house might not be the best for the one next door. Maybe you’ve got your eye on an attractive three-tab shingle of a certain color, but is the three-tab option, even though it’s the most affordable, the one that will bring you the most value? While those without budget flexibility will have no choice but to choose 3-tab shingles, those with wiggle room might get more value out of a higher-quality shingle.

house after roofing

The advantages and disadvantages of the different types of shingles

Every good project planning session should have a list of pros and cons next to the materials that might be used. With so many roofing materials from a variety of manufacturers, the pros and cons list can be lengthy. The following are reasons you should or shouldn’t use specific shingle types in your roof replacement project.

Three-tab shingle roofing pros and cons

The most obvious advantage with these shingles is their price, but with the reduced costs come some cons. While this is still one of the most popular options on the market, you need to consider the following before choosing these.

  • If you’re not expecting more than 20 years out of your shingles and you’re not willing to fork over the money that higher-quality shingles demand, you’ll be attracted to three-tab shingles. Fortunately, they come in so many colors, you’ll likely find exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Weighing less than other shingles, 3-tab shingles are easier to move and easier to install, which can result in faster competition times and reduced labor costs. Furthermore, less weight on your roof can also reduce the risk of weight-related damage to your inner structures of the roof.
  • Unfortunately, the lighter weight also means these shingles are more prone to problems related to wind, such as uplift. Furthermore, they are more easily damaged by flying debris, including hail.

While higher-quality shingles offer more durability, which equals longer life, there is no doubt that there will always be a need for three-tab shingles.

Architectural (dimensional) shingle roofing pros and cons

Moving up to a more durable and definitely more eye catching shingle is the architectural, AKA, dimensional shingle. Introduced to the market in the 1970s, architectural shingles are relative newcomers to the scene, but they have made a huge impact.

  • Far heavier than three-tab shingles, architectural shingles are thick and durable, which means they last a long time.
  • With the multi-dimensional appearance, it is easy to see why these shingles are so desirable to homeowners who want a unique look to their home, providing curb appeal for years to come.
  • Be prepared to pay more for architectural shingles, as they are manufactured with more materials, which pushes up the cost. The heavier weight of them also makes them more difficult to work with, which can also increase labor costs.

Yes, you pay more for architectural shingles than you do for three-tab shingles, but the value is in their unique aesthetic (more curb appeal) and their long life, which can be 30-plus years.

Luxury (premium) shingle roofing pros and cons

When you want a slate tile roof but paying $16 per square foot for it is out of the question, the next best thing is luxury (premium) shingles, which can come pretty close to the tile look and similarly close to the real wood shake appearance.

  • The most expensive asphalt shingles are found in the luxury lines from the highest quality manufacturers. When your budget is robust, luxury is the way to go.
  • Similar to the architectural shingles, luxury shingles are thick and heavy, which means they last for 30-plus years, often longer.
  • They can be up to three times heavier than other shingles, making them highly wind resistant. Also, they’re more puncture proof than any other asphalt shingle.
  • Among the heaviest shingles on the market, these are more difficult/take longer to install, which will drive up the cost of labor.

Not everyone can afford luxury shingles and not every home is going to be the right match for the type of aesthetic luxury shingles bring to the mix. But for those who want the best of the best in asphalt shingles, there is no substitution.

Most roofing contractors think in terms of value. Value comes in many forms. For example, there is value to the look of a home, and sometimes quite literally. For example, more curb appeal can drive up the asking price for a home on the market. More importantly, roofing contractors want their work to live on for decades, which is why they are focused on installing shingles from quality brands. Whether they’re three-tab, architectural or luxury, the most reputable contractors will work with the best of each type to ensure every job will have outcomes as good as it can possibly be.

Comparison of asphalt shingles to other popular materials

Asphalt shingles aren’t the only materials on the market today. There are others that fall into the more exclusive categories that don’t fit too many homeowners’ budgets. And while some of these will outlive pretty much any homeowner, the expertise it takes to install them can be hard to find.

Vinyl siding, roofing & gutters replacement after hail damage in Naperville project

Here’s a summary of how asphalt shingles stack up against other popular roofing options.

Metal roofing

While metal roofs are long-lasting, approximately 40-60 years, they are quite costly to install. Compared to shingled roofs, installing metal can drive up the budget by 10 times as much. And where traditional asphalt shingles use petroleum and are not necessarily considered environmentally friendly, metal roofs are usually made from about 25 percent recycled material and are 100 percent recyclable.

Clay and concrete tile roofing

The most amazing thing about clay and concrete tile roofs is that they can last an entire century. Similar to the metal roof, these roofs are extremely expensive. Clay and concrete are completely pest resistant, can’t rot and are also fire resistant, but they are also difficult to install, which means finding a contractor to do it can be quite limiting. And while they are environmentally friendly, if the slope of your roof is too steep, clay and concrete tiles will not be a good fit.

Cedar shakes and shingles roofing

Nothing quite compares to the look of cedar shake on a roof, but few other materials are as costly to install. And while this material is known for outlasting asphalt shingles, they will only reach that old age if they are installed correctly. Unfortunately, this is a material known for its complex installation. Asphalt shingles take much less maintenance than cedar shake, which must be treated in order to resist pests, fire, etc.

At VIS Exterior, we know affordability is important, but so too is durability, the curb appeal of a roof and its ability to protect the home. When you partner with us, we can discuss all the options for materials that will be a perfect match for your home.

Choose the best roofing contractor for all asphalt shingle replacement needs

Most homeowners will put hours and hours of research in before they get started on a reroofing project. From roof materials to its color and weight, shape and size, homeowners are doing their due diligence and becoming more informed. One of the most crucial aspects of the research is to find the right roofing contractor. The best contractors are expert communicators. They can explain all aspects of a roofing project, why choosing the right shingles is so important and why a specific type of shingle will work better than another.

At VIS Exterior, we only hire full-time employees who have proven their worth as professional roofers. All of our roofers have years of experience working on every conceivable type of home, small and large, simple and complex. Our roofers have worked with a variety of roofing materials from all the best brands. As certified roofers, all manufacturers honor their warranties when we install their products.

We take care of our employees because they take care of our clients. We bring the utmost respect to the jobsite, taking care to leave the property cleaner than it was when we arrived. Check out our reviews and see what others say about our approach to the profession of roofing.

Contact us and schedule a free consultation, and let us guide you through the process. We guarantee you’ll find value in what we bring to the process.

Roofing homeowners