Asphalt Shingle Roofing: Buyer’s Guide

Buying a new home or replacing your existing roof? This guide will help you learn the benefits, costs, installation, and limitations of asphalt shingle roofs.
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To provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date guides and cost figures, we gather information from a variety of local licensed contractors, pricing databases, and industry experts. Learn more.

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Reviewed by JC Sanjuan — General and roofing contractor with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial construction. He specializes in project management, quality workmanship, client satisfaction, and solving roofing challenges.

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Asphalt shingles are a go-to for many homeowners when it comes to roofing. They’re cost-effective, durable, and offer a variety of styles to match any home.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about asphalt shingles if you’re considering this material as your roofing covering option. You’ll learn about their benefits, the different types available, and what you can expect to pay. We’ll also touch on how to choose the best shingles, their installation, and maintenance tips to extend the life of your future roof.

In This Article:

Let’s get started.

What are Asphalt Shingles?

Asphalt shingles are primarily made of a fiberglass or felt paper base coated with waterproof asphalt and topped with ceramic granules.

This construction gives them their weather-resistant qualities. There are mainly three types of asphalt shingles:

3-tab shingles

XT™ 25 - Residential Roofing - CertainTeed
Credit: XT™ 25 – Residential Roofing – CertainTeed

Traditional, economical, and with a flat appearance, these are the standard in asphalt roofing.

Dimensional shingles

Landmark Roofing Shingles - CertainTeed
Credit: Landmark Roofing Shingles – CertainTeed

Also known as architectural or laminate shingles, these are thicker, providing a richer, more varied look.

Luxury shingles

Grand Manor® - Residential Roofing - CertainTeed
Credit: Grand Manor® – Residential Roofing – CertainTeed

The highest quality of asphalt shingles, providing extra weight and look that can mimic natural slate or cedar shake.

Benefits of Asphalt Shingles

Perhaps the most attractive feature for many is the cost. Asphalt shingles offer a great bang for your buck, providing both performance and aesthetics without breaking the bank. Here are other top benefits of asphalt shingles:

Ease of installation

Unlike some roofing materials that require specialized skills or equipment, asphalt shingles are comparatively easy to install. This often means quicker installation times and lower labor costs.

Design and colors

Want a particular shade or style for your home? Asphalt shingles come in a range of colors and designs, you’re likely to find something that fits your taste and complements your home’s exterior.

Long lasting

When installed and maintained correctly, asphalt shingles can last up to 30 years. They resist weather changes and can even withstand fire to some degree.

Easy repairs

If a section of your roof gets damaged, you often don’t need a full replacement. Individual shingles can be replaced as needed, saving you time and money.

How Long Does An Asphalt Shingle Roof Last?

A standard asphalt shingle roof can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years, depending on the quality of materials, installation, climate conditions, and maintenance. Luxury and architectural shingles may last longer than 3-tab shingles since they are typically thicker and more durable.

Maintenance

To extend the life expectancy of an asphalt shingle roof, regular maintenance is imperative. This includes:

  • Keeping the roof free of debris.
  • Ensuring good attic ventilation to prevent heat buildup.
  • Addressing any damage or leaks promptly to prevent water damage.

How Much Do Asphalt Shingles Cost?

As of today, the cost of asphalt shingles roof replacement in Florida is approximately $14,070 on average for a typical 2,000 square foot home. However, the cost can vary widely based on the type, brand, and features. In general, you can expect:

3-Tab shingles

The cost for a 3-tab shingle is on average $6 per square foot. They’re the most affordable, costing less upfront but likley more over time because of their shorter lifespan, which could be from 10 to 15 years depending on maintenance.

Architectural shingles

The cost for architectural shingles is on roughly $7 per square foot. It costs a bit more but has a good balance of cost and longevity.

Luxury shingles

These come with a higher price tag, reflecting their premium look and longer expected lifespan. The cost for luxury shingle is around $8 per square foot.

The cost also varies depending on the complexity of the roof design and the labor costs in your area. To find out how much your asphalt shingle roof will cost in your area, check out our roofing calculator.

Asphalt Shingles Costs Compared to Other Roofing Materials

Let’s compare the cost of asphalt shingles to other roofing materials:

Metal roofing

Metal roofs are more expensive, ranging from $16.28 to $24.42 per square foot per square foot. However, they tend to have a longer lifespan and bigger energy savings.

Tile roofs

A superior choice to shingles, these can cost between $25.07 and $37.61 per square foot. They can last over 50 years but need reinforced roof framing due to their weight.

Wood shingles

These often range from $19.24 to $28.86 per square foot. They have a unique look but might need more maintenance.

Slate roofs

As a luxury option, costs can be between $25.25 to $37.87 per square foot. Slate offers a timeless appearance and can last for over a century.

Choosing the Best Asphalt Shingles

asphalt shingle
Credit Splash

When selecting asphalt shingles for your home consider the following:

  • Quality: CertainTeed, GAF, and Owens Corning are among the top rated asphalt shingles manufacturer in the U.S.
  • Warranty: Warranties for asphalt shingles can range from 20 years to a lifetime.
  • Roof pitch: Asphalt shingles cannot be installed on roofs with a pitch less than 2:12 and in some cases, a proper underlayment system needs to be installed.
  • Aesthetics: Consider the architectural style of your home and choose shingles that will complement its design.
  • Cost: While it’s tempting to opt for the cheapest option, investing in higher-quality.
  • Innovative features: Some asphalt shingles come with additional features like algae resistance, improved fire rating, or reflective granules for energy efficiency. Depending on your needs and the climate you live in, these innovations may be beneficial.

Top Rated Architectural Asphalt Shingles in the Market

Landmark Driftwood Shingles on a gray brick residential home
Credit: CertainTeed

These are the top-rated architectural asphalt shingles in the market, as of today, include several standout products recognized for their quality and design:

TruDefinition Duration Shingles from Owens Corning

These shingles are popular for their strong and tough design, available in different colors and styles. They feature Owens Corning’s superior nail strip, which adds better adherence to the roof deck and resistance to wind gusts. The algae streak protection on these shingles makes it last longer.

Timberline HDZ Shingles by GAF

These are very popular in the market. Big box retailers such ase HomeDepot and Lowes carry these shingles. What is great about Timberline HDZ shingles is that they come with a LayerLock Technology and StainGuard Plus Algae Protection Limited Warranty. They are available in High Definition colors with shadow bands, giving them a distinctive dimensional look. The StrikeZone nailing area makes installation more straightforward and more reliable​​.

Oakridge Shingles by Owens Corning

These laminated shingles combine traditional charm with modern technology, providing wind resistance and a variety of popular colors. They also come with StreakGuard Algae Resistance Protection.

Duration FLEX shingles from Owens Corning

These shingles are known for lasting longer and are backed by a generous warranty when all roof components are from Owens Corning, and installation is done by a certified contractor. They offer 50 years of non-prorated warranty coverage, including the labor cost to repair or replace defective materials​​.

Atlas Roofing Corporation’s Pinnacle Pristine

These shingles score high in consumer reports for their architectural roof shingle styles and colors. Known for their quality, they are a great value, performing well while being more affordable than similar products from other manufacturers​​.

Landmark Shingles

CertainTeed’s Landmark shingles are highly rated. They are known for their quality, a wide array of color options, and a natural look that attract many homeowners. Landmark shingles provides excellent value and add to the curb appeal of different home styles.

The Landmark series, which includes Landmark Pro and Landmark Premium, is particularly known for its performance. The multi-layer design and Max Def color palette of Landmark Pro shingles, for instance, provide a striking and dimensional look.

In terms of performance, CertainTeed’s Landmark shingles have received positive scores in independent tests, showcasing their quality and reliability. They have been rated highly for factors such as weight, nailing zone, pull test, and granule loss, which are key for longevity and durability of roofing shingles.

Asphalt Shingles Limitations

Every roofing material has its pros and cons, and asphalt shingles are no exception. While they have many benefits, it’s important to be aware of some limitations they might have. Here are some of the drawbacks:

Susceptibility to high winds or impact damage

Although asphalt shingles can stand up to a fair share of weather conditions, extremely high winds might lift or tear them.

Things like hailstones or large falling debris can dent or damage shingles. However, many manufacturers offer impact-resistant shingles designed to mitigate these effects.

Lifespan compared to some other roofing materials

Asphalt shingles typically last 20 to 30 years. While this is impressive, materials like clay, slate, or metal roofs can have much longer lifespans, sometimes reaching up to 50 years or more.

Environmental concerns

Asphalt shingles aren’t always recyclable, and discarded shingles can take up significant space in landfills. That said, there are increasing efforts in many regions to recycle old shingles into materials for road construction and other applications.

Production impact

The production of asphalt shingles requires petroleum, which raises concerns about resource consumption and environmental impact. Some manufacturers are now exploring more sustainable production methods to address these concerns.

How are Asphalt Shingles Installed?

A new asphalt shingle roof install includes complete removal of your existing roof covering and replacing it with new material. These include replacement of damaged wood, weather resistant underlayment, flashing, vents and metal covering material.

Here are the steps on how roofers install asphalt shingle roofs:

Step 1. Inspection

Before installation, a thorough inspection is conducted to check the condition of your existing roof and look for any underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Step 2. Removal of old roofing materials

Old materials like shingles, underlayment, and flashing are removed to create a clean surface for the new installation.

Step 3. Repair or replacement of decking

If the base layer beneath the roofing material is damaged or rotten, it may need to be repaired or replaced.

Step 4. Installation of underlayment

A weather-resistant underlayment is installed over the roof decking to provide an extra layer of protection against water leaks.

Step 5. Flashing installation

Flashing is installed around roof features like chimneys, vents, and valleys to prevent water penetration.

Step 6. Installation of roofing material

The chosen roofing material is installed according to manufacturer specifications and local building codes.

Step 7. Ventilation installation

Proper ventilation is key for a healthy roofing system. Vents are installed to allow air circulation, which helps prevent moisture buildup and extends the life of your roof.

Step 8. Ridge cap installation

Ridge caps are installed at the peaks of the roof to provide a finished look and increase the weather resistance of the roof.

Step 9. Cleanup

The work area is cleaned up, and debris from the old roof is removed.

Step 10. Final inspection

A final inspection by contractor and building inspector is conducted to ensure that the new roof meets quality standards and complies with local building codes.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are asphalt shingles made of?
    Asphalt shingles consist of either an organic mat or fiberglass core, saturated with asphalt and coated with mineral granules to provide protection and color.
  2. How long do asphalt shingles last?
    Typically, asphalt shingles can last between 20 to 30 years. Factors like climate, maintenance, and installation quality can affect their lifespan.
  3. Can I install asphalt shingles over an existing roof?
    While it’s possible to layer asphalt shingles over an existing roof, it’s generally not recommended because of potential underlying issues. Always consult a roofing professional.
  4. How are asphalt shingles affected by extreme weather?
    Quality shingles are designed to resist adverse weather conditions, but intense hail or high winds can damage them over time.
  5. How much do asphalt shingles cost?
    Costs vary based on the type of shingle, brand, and region. On average, homeowners might expect to pay between $90 to $100 per square (a 10×10 foot area).
  6. Are there environmentally friendly asphalt shingle options?
    Yes! Many manufacturers produce recycled asphalt shingles, and many old shingles can be recycled after use, reducing landfill waste.
  7. What’s the difference between 3-tab and architectural shingles?
    3-tab shingles are single-layered and have a flat . Architectural shingles are multi-layered, offering a dimensional look and often a longer lifespan.
  8. How do I maintain my asphalt shingle roof?
    Regular inspections, cleaning off debris, moss, and algae, and promptly replacing damaged shingles can keep your roof in top shape.
  9. Do different colors of shingles affect my home’s temperature?
    Yes, lighter-colored shingles may reflect more sunlight, keeping your home cooler in sunny climates.
  10. Can I DIY install asphalt shingles?
    While it’s possible for skilled DIYers, roofing is a complex job with potential pitfalls. Hiring a professional its best the thing to do to have a proper install and guarantee of your roof’s lifespan.

Additional Resources

If you have more questions or need personalized guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. Email us [editorial] @roofguides.com.

References

National Roofing Contractors Association.
The NRCA Roofing Manual: Steep-slope Roof Systems. NRCA, 2023. https://www.nrca.net/

Consumer Report
https://www.consumerreports.org/home-garden/roofing/buying-guide/

 

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