Types of Asphalt Shingles

Example of a home with strip asphalt shingles

How do I choose the right asphalt shingles?

The options may seem overwhelming, but asphalt shingles are a great choice for almost any home. Asphalt shingles are durable, affordable and come in an incredible variety of colors and styles to match almost any exterior. So how do you choose?

Home with asphalt shingles

there are three primary types of asphalt shingles:

  1. 3-tab shingles — also referred to as three-tab shingles.
  2. Dimensional shingles — sometimes called architectural or laminate shingles.
  3. Luxury shingles — occasionally called premium shingles.

While all three kinds of asphalt shingles are made of similar materials, they are not exactly the same. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which asphalt roofing shingles will meet your needs for years to come.

1. 3-tab Asphalt Shingles

Example of a strip asphalt shingle

What’s there to love about a 3-tab shingle? 3-tab shingles are affordable and can last a couple decades in the right conditions.

What’s the problem with 3-tab shingles? Fewer aesthetic options, potential blow-off issues and a shorter lifespan.

Example of a home with strip asphalt shingles

Affordability meets functionality! One-piece, single-layer 3-tab asphalt shingles are the most basic and economical example on the market.3-tab shingles are made from durable fiberglass basemat coated with mineral granules, giving each piece varying color tones.

3-tab shingles are lightweight and designed to withstand the elements for about 20 years or more and are easy to recognize by their clean, horizontal appearance. Their exposed layer is notched (usually into three tabs, hence 3-tab moniker) to give a more decorative appearance. 3-tab shingles may be a good choice for homeowners on budget.

Unfortunately,3-tab shingles lack some of the aesthetic qualities of dimensional and luxury shingles. Blow-off — which is exactly what it sounds like — is also a threat to aging or poorly installed 3-tab shingles in rough weather conditions. 3-tab shingles still protect your home from the elements.

The day of the 3-tab shingle, however, is passing. You’ll most commonly find 3-tab shingles on new economy homes or older houses that were built with 3-tab shingle roofs.

2. Dimensional/architectural Asphalt Shingles

Example of architectural asphalt shingles

What’s there to love about a dimensional shingle? Strength, baby. Dimensional shingles are extremely durable. These shingles boast a multi-dimensional texture and appearance, and can last 30 years or longer.

What’s the problem with dimensional shingles? You’ll pay more upfront for dimensional asphalt shingles than you will for 3-tab shingles.

Example of dimensional asphalt shingles.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) reports that dimensional asphalt shingles are the most popular asphalt shingle used today. Dimensional shingles are made of two or more layers of shingles. Multi-layered shingles are extra durable, allowing them to be used in stronger warranties for homeowners like you. Many dimensional shingles are warranted from 30 years to life, depending on the installation and specific shingles chosen.

The real appeal of dimensional shingles? They look great. These shingles are easy to spot as you drive through a neighborhood. They don’t look like run-of-the-mill asphalt shingles. Dimensional asphalt shingles are available in a wide range of colors to match any home.

You’e going to pay more on the front end for dimensional shingles. Some roofing experts claim that dimensional shingles are generally 20 percent more expensive than 3-tab shingles. At the same time, dimensional shingles are about 75 percent less expensive than actual wood shakes, and you’re going to be eligible for a better warranty than you would be with 3-tab shingles. You do the math.

3. Luxury Asphalt Shingles

Example of luxury asphalt shingles

What’s there to love about luxury asphalt shingles? Multi-Dimensional appearance; maximum durability; more affordable than slate or cedar alternatives.

Home with luxury asphalt shingles

Luxury shingles are designed to replicate natural slate and cedar shake roofs at a fraction of the cost. Shakes and slate are expensive to purchase, and extremely laborious to install. A slate roof may cost as much as 10 times that of architectural laminate shingles.

Luxury asphalt shingles are a great roofing alternative for period-style homes that look best with slate- or shake-style roofs. The multi-dimensional texture of luxury shingles creates shadows and depths that look just like real shakes or slate.

 

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