Asphalt shingles: everything you need to know
If you're looking to replace your roof, you might be wondering: what kind of shingles are right for me? The most popular shingles on the market are asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are known for their durability, versatility, and low cost. No wonder they’re the roofing material of choice in the United States!
Asphalt shingles come in a variety of types, so you’re bound to find one to meet your needs. Image source: Nobord
Even if you narrow your search down to asphalt roofing shingles, there are several different shingles to choose from. In this article, we break down the different types of asphalt shingles and what their best uses are.
On this page:
- What are asphalt shingles?
- How much do they cost?
- Types of asphalt shingles
- Benefits over other shingle types
- Are they right for you?
What are asphalt shingles?
Shingles cover your roof deck and roofing system to protect them from moisture. In North America, the most popular shingles to protect your roof are asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles get their name from the asphalt used to make the shingles waterproof.
All asphalt shingles contain three main layers:
- Matting - serves as the base material for the shingle
- Asphalt sealant - coats the matting to make the shingles waterproof. It also acts as an adhesive.
- Ceramic granules - stick to the asphalt layer and give asphalt its signature texture and color variety, while simultaneously protecting the other layers from UV rays.
Before 2008, you could choose between two types of asphalt shingles: organic-mat and fiberglass. The matting in organic shingles was made from cellulose fibers, like recycled wood and paper. Now, shingle manufacturers only produce fiberglass shingles.
Fiberglass shingles are easier to install than organic shingles and they cost much less. Not only that, but they are more resistant to the elements. Organic shingles are prone to warping and algae growth from retaining moisture, so they need to be replaced more often. Because of this, the production of organic shingles ceased in 2008.
How much do asphalt roofing shingles cost?
On average, asphalt shingles cost anywhere from $1.50 to $5.50 per square foot. For a typical 1,700 square foot roof, asphalt shingles will cost somewhere between $2,555 and $9,350, depending on the type of asphalt shingles, the roof pitch, and what roofing contractor you choose.
The price of a DIY roofing installation is cheaper, but you should always consider having a skilled professional complete or inspect your roofing system, just to make sure everything is installed properly. Asphalt shingles are usually the cheapest roofing material option.
The cost of your roofing project can also be influenced by the brand of shingles you choose. Some of the most popular asphalt shingle manufacturers are CertainTeed, GAF, IKO, Owens Corning, and Tamko. The following table outlines some of the most popular asphalt shingles and their estimated prices:
|Shingle Model||Shingle Type||Price (without installation)||Estimated installed price|
|GAF Royal Sovereign||3-tab||$1.00 per square foot||$3.35 per square foot|
|CertainTeed Landmark||Architectural||$1.30 per square foot||$4.35 per square foot|
|Owens Corning Duration Cool Color Premium||Energy efficient||$2.14 per square foot||$7.13 per square foot|
Types of asphalt shingles
Asphalt shingles come in three different designs: 3-tab shingles (also referred to as three-tab shingles), architectural shingles, and energy-efficient shingles. Let’s take a closer look at each of these shingle types.
3-tab asphalt shingles
Average cost (including installation): $2.50 - $3.40 per square foot
Warranty: 25 to 30 years
Best for: Roofing on a budget
3-tab shingles are the cheapest type of asphalt shingles. Image source: Triad Roofing Services
3-tab shingles, also called strip shingles, are the most basic type of asphalt shingles. 3-tab shingles are designed to make it look like there are three separate pieces installed, hence the name. In reality, it is only one piece of material that is cut to appear like there are three shingles.
3-tab shingles have remained one of the most popular roofing materials because they are cost-effective, lightweight, easy to install, and create a simple, uniform look. Keep in mind, 3-tab shingles have shorter warranties and aren’t as durable as other types of asphalt shingles.
Architectural asphalt shingles
Average cost (including installation): $3.00 - $15.00 per square foot
Warranty: 25 to 50 years
Best for: Curb appeal and durability
Architectural shingles are more aesthetically pleasing, as they add depth and dimension to a roof. Image source: Nimbus Roofing, LLC
Architectural asphalt shingles, sometimes called dimensional shingles or laminate shingles, are rising in popularity, especially for high-end homes. Architectural shingle tabs come in different shapes and sizes to give the roof a more interesting, dimensional look. There is more variety in the colors and styles of architectural shingles as well, which enhances a home’s curb appeal.
Although they come at a higher price tag than 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles are more aesthetically pleasing and come with a longer warranty. Plus, their multi-layer construction makes them durable and wind-resistant.
Aside from standard architectural shingles, you can also install premium architectural shingles. Premium shingles are usually designed to look like more traditional roofing materials, such as slate tiles or cedar shakes. Using premium luxury shingles allows you to get a more unique look, while still taking advantage of the durability of an asphalt shingle roof.
Premium shingles come at an even higher price than regular architectural shingles, but are usually impact-resistant. These durable shingles won’t be damaged from hail storms and therefore won’t need to be replaced as often.
Energy-efficient asphalt shingles
Average cost (including installation): $4.00 - $7.00 per square foot
Warranty: 25 to 30 years
Best for: Energy conscious homeowners
Energy-efficient shingles will lower your electric bill by keeping your roof cool. Image source: Owens Corning
Some asphalt shingles are designed to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Traditional asphalt shingles will absorb heat from the sun, which in turn increases the heat of your home, causing you to use more electricity for cooling. By installing energy-efficient shingles, you’ll have to pay a little more upfront, but you’ll end up saving on your electricity bill.
Energy efficiency asphalt shingles are designed to absorb less heat than traditional shingles. Special granules are used on the surface of the shingles that reduce the roof’s absorption of heat. Using energy-efficient shingles can decrease the heat of the surface of a roof by up to 50*F!
Why pick asphalt shingles over other roof shingle types?
The main appeal of asphalt shingles is that they are cheap and durable. Because they are now manufactured with multiple layers of fiberglass and asphalt, they are more resistant to weather and algae growth than other roofing products, like wood shingles.
The materials used in asphalt shingles extend their lifespan, meaning you don’t have to worry about replacing your roof as often. You should still regularly inspect your roof, or contact a roofing inspector to make sure your roof is in good condition. Regular roof inspections will help prevent problems like leaks before they start.
While tile and metal roofs are also durable, many homeowners tend to prefer the look and design of asphalt shingles. The combination of the price point, the look, and their rugged design have given asphalt shingles a leg up over other roofing types.
Are asphalt roof shingles right for you?
There’s a reason that asphalt shingles are the most popular option for roof installations and roof replacements. Whether you’re on a budget or want reliable durability, asphalt shingles have you covered.
If you’re looking for the cheapest option for updating your roof, 3-tab shingles are the way to go. They offer a clean, uniform appearance without breaking the bank. If budget isn’t a concern, architectural shingles are a great choice. You’ll have a more eye-catching roof that’s still durable and long-lasting. Finally, if you’re environmentally conscious, you can opt for energy-efficient shingles. Who doesn’t want a lower electric bill?
Local roofing installers can help you pick out the right shingles for your budget and your home’s design. It’s important to get quotes from multiple roofers to get the best price on shingles. Once you pick your contractor, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your new roof!
- Asphalt shingles are popular among homeowners because they are cheap, durable, and look great.
- There are three types of asphalt shingles: 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles, and energy-efficient shingles.
- Local roofing installers can help you find the right shingles for your home.
Author: Catherine Lane | SolarReviews Blog Author
Catherine is a researcher and content specialist at SolarReviews. She has strong interests in issues related to climate and sustainability which led her to pursue a degree in environmental science at Ramapo College of New Jersey.