The biggest bang for your buck. That’s what Asphalt Shingles on a roof can provide to you, the homeowner. It’s not the most durable material. Durability and longevity belongs to metal roofing and natural slate. For the value, though, Asphalt Shingles are hard to beat, especially when viewed through the prism of its low upfront cost and near-term home improvement ROI. An asphalt shingle roof can often be installed for under $10,000 on a small or mid-sized single family house. For a relatively modest upfront cost, you can expect to get at least 10 to 15 years of roof protection for your home.
A Wee Bit Of History
For a long time, slate tiles were the cream of the crop when it came to roofing a house or building. In the early 20th century, that changed. America went from using slate and cedar (wood) shakes and shingles as predominant materials for covering their homes, to what was at the time the newly unveiled asphalt shingles. The reason for this was two-fold; The new asphalt shingle was made to look very similar to the slate tile, but at a much more affordable cost. Like all things mass production, it allowed millions of homeowners to enjoy decent roof quality without the need to spend a whole lot of money on a roof. Yet, like many things associated with mass production and usage, it lead to a significant, and ongoing issue with the disposal of old asphalt shingles.
Understanding Asphalt Shingles Roofing Options
Back in the day, it used to be that asphalt roofing was rolled onto roofs. Cloth-like paper, with layer of asphalt, coated with stone granules. In the early 1900’s, the rolls were sliced into individual pieces. Add in the political pressure from the National Board of Fire Underwriters, who thought this material was much better for a home covering than the popular wood shakes alternative, and a monumental industry was born! 😉
Strip shingles, or what we call 3-tab today, used to be the standard for nearly half a century. They offer a single layer, uniform look for the roof. They are light-weight even in today’s market. But, they are considered cheap and less durable than the next step up, or what we call architectural shingles.
Architectural Shingles are thicker, heavier and offer far more variety than their predecessor. With 50% more weight than a 3-tab shingle, architectural shingles come at a higher cost. Though, the cost is easily justifiable with more durability, service lifespan and the idea that shapes of shingles can be different. Architectural shingles are also known as laminated or dimensional shingles, because there is an appearance of more depth to the roof than what 3-tab/strip shingles provide.
Many routinely refer to architectural as the premium product, but they are really middle of the road product.
Premium shingles can offer even more depth and variation. These are luxury shingles are known for their totally different look. Truly premium shingles are designed to be as durable and long lasting as possible. Here, multi-colored options exist, along with cool-roof asphalt shingles, and other cutting edge technological advancements.
To be clear, the architectural shingles are the predominant product in the asphalt shingle market today. The other two options are also being sold, and are quite popular in their own right. 3-tab makes for a great starter row on any type of asphalt shingle roof. Plus 3-tab is sufficient wherever economical considerations may outweigh quality, such as on some low-priority commercial buildings and value residential roofs. Premium shingles are deemed by many as too luxurious, but there are people willing to pay nearly twice the cost for a better designed, longer lasting roof, which the luxury shingles provide.
Another consideration which each of the three options has to do with how the product can perform during storm weather and strong wind uplift. Essentially, the cheaper the product the less wind it can withstand before the 3-tab tiles curl or are even blown off. This pertains directly to product warranty. Here’s a quick rundown:
- 3-tab shingles are rated for 60 to 70 mph wind uplift, usually holding to a 20 to 30 year product warranty
- Architectural shingles are rated for 110 to 130 mph winds, with 30 to 50 year warranties
- Premium shingles are rated for up to 110 mph uplift, and usually come with limited lifetime warranty
For more visuals and info on the three variations of Asphalt Shingles, see this page from the IKO Roofing Manufacturer’s website.