Fiberglass Roofing Shingles Costs, Options, and Pros & Cons in 2021

Asphalt shingles remain the most popular roofing material in America. While not the most durable option around, composition shingles aka fiberglass mat asphalt shingles are the most economical. They make for quick installation and continue to be improved upon.

Since the 1980s, fiberglass shingles have effectively displaced the traditional organic asphalt shingles that weren’t as durable. The cost of materials and installation has stayed relative to the rate of inflation.

Cost Basics

As roofers discuss everything in terms of squares (100 sq.ft.), let’s use those rates. On average, a square of fiberglass architectural roofing shingles will run between $400 to $750 per square fully installed.

Note: In high cost of living areas such as Northern Virginia, Miami, Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles, the cost can easily exceed $600-$800 per square installed.

If choosing to go with a warrantied professional installation, on average, you can expect to pay between $8,000 and $15,000 for a typical 20-squares or 2,000 square foot roof. — This includes the cost of all the necessary materials and supplies, professional warrantied labor, tear off and disposal of the old roof, required permitting, and a minimum of 5-year workmanship warranty.

Cost of Materials vs. Other Alternatives:

The material cost, per square foot, for all other roofing options like metal andcedar shakes, starts at about $3.50 per square foot and goes up to well over $10.00 per square foot from there; while fiberglass shingles are easily well under $2.00 per sq.ft. including starter shingles, ridge and hip caps, and flashing trim for most asphalt roofing material options, except some of the most premium options from the likes of GAF premium shingles, Malarkey, and CertainTeed. You’d have to go with high-end, premium architectural shingles to have it rise to the low-end cost of other materials such as cedar shingles and metal.

Material Composition

Traditional asphalt shingles, often referenced as organic mat-base shingles, were heavier than the contemporary fiberglass version. This is a result of needing 40% more asphalt than the updated fiberglass version.

The fiberglass base mat along with ceramic granules are truly the primary materials while the asphalt layer serves the important function of waterproofing the mat. The granules, both old and new, serve the purpose shielding the shingle/mat from harmful UV rays.

Less asphalt does make for less flexibility and initially less durability. Though organic mat-based mats (no longer manufactured) are well known to absorb water which during changes from hot to freezing temps, can lead to more cracking or warping of the shingle.

Being lighter weight, fiberglass shingles are easier to transport, thus more Eco-friendly in terms of energy needed for their transport. And, with fiberglass composition shingles, there is somewhat less weight that will end up in landfills — something that is still a major disadvantage of asphalt shingles compared to recyclable materials such as metal and ceramic tiles.

Stylistic Considerations

Two different types of fiberglass shingles exist, with enormous number of sub-variations. Three-tab or basic strip shingles are the less expensive version that delivers an overall flat looking roof.

The ’tabs’ are a part of the shingle that on a finished roof are not detectable as all shingle tabs look like individual pieces, when really, they are overlapping pieces of three-tabbed shingles.

Architectural grade is the second, more expensive version. Sometimes referenced as dimensional 3D or laminate shingles.

This type of fiberglass shingle provides extra depth and shape to what is the resulting shingle appearance. The contoured look gives off more of an impression slate tile or even wood shake.

Both types of fiberglass shingles can vary the color on a single roof, but three-tab is commonly a single color while the dimensional tiles have visible shade and hue difference among each piece.

All contemporary roofing materials have limitless color options and fiberglass shingles are no different. Green, red, brown, gray, and black are all common for fiberglass composition shingles.

Additional Considerations and Features

A significant advantage architectural shingles has over 3-tab is the manufacturer’s warranty. Typically, the 3-tab or strip shingles will carry a material warranty for anywhere from 15 to 30 years depending on the manufacturer, climate, and regional environmental factors. Architectural grade shingles start with a minimum of 30 years rating.

The same roof mentioned in the Cost Basics section above, using higher end laminate shingles like GAF Timberline HDZ or Owens Corning Duration shingles, would be priced between $9,000 to $15,000 for a typical 20 squares or 2,000 square foot roof professionally installed.

For low-sloped roofs, three-tab is often a better option as the contours of a dimensional/architectural roof shingles could hold or trap water more than the flatness of the three-tab version. A minimum roof pitch of 4/12 is recommended for most asphalt shingle roofs. That said, some asphalt shingles can be installed on roofs with a minimum pitch of 3/12. A pitch shallower than that would require either a flat roofing membrane or a specialty standing seam metal roof designed for low slope applications.

Some manufacturers use colored granules designed to reflect sun rays, thus delivering cool roof type technology on an asphalt shingle application.

While metal roofing is superior when it comes to actual CoolRoof benefits, you’ll want to check for Energy Star or CRRC (CoolRoof) rated fiberglass shingles to achieve these sorts of benefits.

Similarly, contemporary fiberglass shingles have the option of being treated for algae resistance and many popular architectural shingle products like GAF Timberline HDZ and Owens Corning Duration shingles are pre-treated for algae protection. If you go for these, plan to pay as much as 10 percent more for algae-resistant shingles.

For homeowners in high humidity or increased precipitation, this may be of interest to you.

Advantages

  • ease of installation – almost all professional roofers will install this product, and many DIY’er types can handle this type of roofing project
  • very budget friendly or for sure one of the most economical choices available for adding a new roof to your home
  • great versatility with lots of styles and options to select from
  • widely available
  • unlike many other types of roof, fiberglass shingles can be walked on without need for special attention or fear of cracking/denting the material
  • decent to good return on your investment. 3-tab shingle replacements generally amount to 65% ROI, while architectural grade can not only further improve curb appeal, but also fetch as much as 70% cost to value return

Disadvantages

  • while fiberglass composition shingles are somewhat Eco-friendlier than organic version, they lag far behind other roofing options like metal or cedar shingles and shakes
  • far less durable than most other roofing options that can last 50 to 100 years, by the time one needs to replace a slate tile roof, the homeowner who stuck with fiberglass will have paid for 3 roofs that are subject to escalating costs over time
  • due to shorter life span, the need for annual checkups is greater along with possibility of needed repairs from curled or cracked shingles. Especially a factor for three-tab shingles in hotter climates

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