Once you’ve made the decision to replace your home’s aging asphalt roof with like materials there are still a multitude of decisions that have to be made beyond selecting a roofing contractor. Among the most important may be selecting the type of shingles.
Currently there are three types of asphalt shingles to choose from: regular 3-tab, architectural or so-called dimensional shingles, and specialty shingles.
Regular 3-tab shingles are the cheapest from a cost standpoint and have the lowest life expectancy. Three-tab shingles are thinner and typically manufactured in a single piece. The look of three tabs is created when two slits are cut into the shingle material, giving the appearance of three shingles being installed as opposed to just one. Application of 3-tab shingles results in a roof with a very orderly and repetitive pattern.
Architectural, as well as specialty shingles, are heavier than 3-tab shingles. They come in different weights and are manufactured with multiple layers. Typically, two pieces of asphalt reinforcing sheet are bonded together with asphalt sealant then asphalt granules are embedded in the surface of the shingle to provide UV protection. This process of bonding two sheets together is what creates the three-dimensional appearance.
While specialty shingles are manufactured like architectural shingles, they are designed to simulate slate or tile shingles. This added complexity results in an even higher cost.
How should a homeowner choose their roofing shingles?
- Aesthetics – Do you prefer the neat and orderly appearance of a 3-tab roof or the added impact of dimensional shingles? Do you yearn for but cannot afford a higher end shingle like slate, tile or wood?
- Roofing Surface – The nice neat repeatable pattern of a 3-tab roof works best on a smooth roof. For uneven roofing surfaces, an architectural or specialty shingle may be more forgiving and hide irregularities.
- Durability – The double bonded layer of dimensional and specialty shingles provides more protection from wind and hail damage.
- Life expectancy – The industry standard warranty for 3-tab shingles is typically 20 years; architectural shingles carry a 30-year warranty and specialty shingles are rated “lifetime” which is 40 years.
- Experience – Contractor preference for one roofing material over another equates with experience. Match your contractor’s familiarity to your preferred product for optimum results.
- Budget – On average, dimensional shingles will cost $3-4 per square foot installed, or about 20% more than 3-tab shingles, whereas specialty shingles average $4-$6 per square foot installed.