Are you trying to replace your existing roof or in the process of planning to build a new home? An asphalt shingle is a form of waterproof material that is used for roofing. So, what are the different types of typical asphalt shingles available?

There are three major categories of asphalt shingles currently available – strip shingles, dimensional shingles (architectural shingles), and luxury shingles. It is important to understand the differences between each type of asphalt roof shingles to pick the right product for your home.

Now let’s discuss these differences and what factors you should consider before you decide.

What are asphalt shingles made from?

Asphalt roofing shingles get their name from the asphalt manufacturers use to make them waterproof.

Asphalt shingles have three layers:

  • Matting – this functions as the base material
  • Asphalt sealant – it covers the matting to give the shingle waterproof abilities. The sealant also doubles as an adhesive.
  • Ceramic granules – these mineral granules stick to the asphalt layer giving architectural shingles their signature texture, allowing for a wide array of colors. At the same time, they protect the underlying layers from harsh UV rays.

Prior to 2008, there were two asphalt shingle types to pick from:

  • Fiberglass shingles
  • Organic-mat shingles

Organic shingle matting is comprised of cellulose fibers like paper and recycled wood. Today, manufacturers only make fiberglass shingles. Compared to organic shingles and other roofing products, fiberglass shingles are easier to install, are more affordable and more resistant to harsh weather.

On the flip side, organic shingles are susceptible to algae growth and warping due to moisture retention. As such, they were replaced more often than fiberglass shingles, and their production stopped in 2008.

Types of Asphalt Shingles

When considering the type of asphalt shingle to use for your roofing, it’s important to understand the difference and purposes of the different shingle styles. The most common differentiators are appearance, cost, and durability.

Strip Shingles

Strip shingles, also called 3-tab shingles, are the most common of asphalt shingles. They have a flat appearance with a slate look and are created with a single layer of asphalt although they look like three separate pieces are installed.

The strip singles cost and weigh less than most other asphalt shingles available. Today, 3-tab shingles are primarily used to build on top of inexpensive homes.Landmark Painted Desert

The main benefit of a strip shingle is that it’s incredibly affordable and relatively durable in the right conditions. However, the roof looks basic and doesn’t have many visually appealing options. In addition, it typically has a shorter lifespan, especially if it suffers from harsh weather conditions and experiences potential blow-off issues.

Strip or three-tab asphalt shingles are quite economical and functional options for many homeowners. They are lightweight and easily recognizable due to their clean, horizontal appearance. Although they aren’t the strongest form of asphalt shingle, they can withstand normal weather conditions due to their durable fiberglass construction.

For homeowners on a budget, strip shingles provide the best form of functionality at affordable prices.

  • Warranty: 3-tab asphalt shingles may have up to a 25-year warranty from the manufacturer.
  • Lifespan: With proper roof installation and attic ventilation, it could last you about 25 years.
  • Cost: The strip shingles are the most affordable option for asphalt shingles.

Dimensional Shingles

Dimensional shingles, which are also called laminated or architectural shingles, consist of two or more layers of shingles that join together. The bottom layer of the shingle is exposed, which provides a rich three-dimensional architectural style look for your roof.

Dimensional shingles are much heavier and designed to replicate the aesthetics of the natural slate and wood shake.

The advantage of using Architectural asphalt shingles is that they are incredibly strong and durable. Due to the multi-dimensional texture, a dimensional shingle roof usually lasts 30 years or longer. In addition, they also provide an aesthetic appeal to your home rather than run-of-the-mill asphalt shingles. Another benefit to dimensional shingles is the wide range of available colors. This means homeowners can match the color with any exterior design.

However, the problem with dimensional shingles is their upfront cost. Since they are extremely durable, dimensional shingles cost less overall.  There is a bigger upfront investment than strip shingles. Typically, dimensional shingles cost about 20% more upfront than strip shingles. But homeowners will get a better warranty on dimensional shingles over other types.

  • Warranty: Most manufacturers offer a 30-year warranty, but some provide the opportunity to register your dimensional shingle roof to obtain a non-prorated enhanced 50-year warranty.
  • Lifespan: With proper roof installation and attic ventilation, it can last about 30 years.
  • Cost: It costs about 20% more than strip shingles.

Since they offer the best of both worlds, they are the preferred choice for asphalt roof replacement by most homeowners. They are perfect for durability and curb appeal.

Luxury Shingles

The highest quality of laminated shingles is luxury shingles, which outclasses all other forms of shingles. They are the heaviest of shingles, providing premium protection for severe weather conditions.  They provide the highest quality of dimensionality and coloration to homeowners.

Even though luxury shingles are the most expensive of the three, they are engineered to replicate cedar shake and natural slate tiles at a fraction of their price. Slate and shakes are usually incredibly difficult to install and expensive to buy. These slate and shake roofs can cost up to ten times the amount of laminate shingles.

The benefit of a luxury or premium shingles is that they provide sophisticated depth and shadows to the roofing. But they bring on multiple layers, which makes them heavier. In fact, luxury shingles weigh twice as much per square compared to strip shingles.

So, is there any benefit to heavier shingles? The additional weight means it has extra strength to safeguard against impact and tears. Luxury shingles can act as strong security to protect your house for homeowners who live in a hail, hurricane, or tornado-prone regions.

  • Warranty: Just like dimensional asphalt shingles, the manufacturers usually offer a 30-year warranty. But some provide the opportunity for a non-prorated enhanced 50-year warranty.
  • Lifespan: With proper roof installation and attic ventilation, premium luxury shingles can last about 50 years.
  • Cost: The investment is about twice as much as dimensional asphalt shingles.

Things to Consider Before Replacing Your Asphalt Shingle Roof

Now that you’re informed about the basics of the three types of asphalt shingles, such as their cost, structure, and durability, there are a few things you should consider before making a buying decision.

How Long Will It Last?

Although manufacturers may provide an estimate of how long your asphalt shingle roof will last, some factors determine how long it will truly last for your home. Here are some things to note that will affect a roof’s lifespan.

Asphalt shingles must be properly installed and adequately vented. This will ensure that you get at least 80 to 85% of the lifespan that your asphalt roof has to offer. As a result, you’ll get 20 to 22 years out of strip shingles and roughly 25 to 28 years for dimensional shingles.

Also, factor in the weather conditions in your area. The more frequent the amount of severe weather there is like hailstorms, the faster your asphalt roof will break down. As the shingles age and lose their integrity, they become susceptible to damage from hail and wind.

The direction that your roof is facing also affects its lifespan. Direct sunlight can wear down the asphalt shingle. For example, installing the roof on the south side means it’ll receive sunlight throughout the day.

In addition, you’ll need to do basic maintenance to ensure it’s in tip-top shape. Keep debris away from the roof, off the gutter line, and out of the valleys.

Maintaining roof shingles

How long asphalt shingles last depends on the level of maintenance performed. Basic maintenance twice a year will increase the asphalt shingle lifespan and save you in roof replacements and repairs.

Part of maintaining your asphalt roof includes getting rid of debris that collects over time, which prevents the roof from retaining moisture which can cause damage. Moreover, you want to check the shingles for algae and moss growth which also degrade shingles.

Flashing prevents water from seeping into your home. Routinely check the roof’s flashing for unsealed gaps, openings, cracks, and moss or algae growth. Also, check if individual shingles are missing, loose, or damaged.

Another key bit to asphalt shingle maintenance is keeping the gutters clean and ensuring they function properly. Finally, trim tree branches overhanging the roof to prevent leaves from falling on the roof and clogging your gutters.

What Warranty is Available?

To obtain the enhanced warranty mentioned above, you’ll usually need to acquire all of your roofing components from one specific manufacturer. Then, once you’ve installed your complete roofing system, you can have it registered to obtain the non-prorated enhanced 50-year warranty.

Always understand what the warranty covers. The asphalt shingles warranty is typically limited to only defects in the shingles due to flaws in the manufacturing process. However, it does not cover any flaws during the installation process. In addition, it doesn’t cover the cost of removal, labor, disposal, and other costs. The manufacturer’s warranty only covers the cost of the material.

Bear in mind that if you sell the house within the warranty period, the coverage might end.

Is it Worth Investing in a Higher Quality Asphalt Roof Instead of a Cheaper Alternative?

We suggest investing in higher quality materials since it’s more likely to last longer and safeguard your home from suffering expensive damages. In addition, the aesthetics of your home will look much better, and you’ll have more design options available to you.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, installing asphalt shingles is an important decision for the foundation of your home. Consider what benefits you’d like from asphalt shingles and whether it’s worth the investment.

Contact Dunsmore Exteriors today for your free, no obligation quote to see what the cost of a new roof is versus roof repairs.