How to Choose the Perfect Type of Roof Shingles

How to Choose the Perfect Type of Roof Shingles

Roofing
By Dikran Seferian March 16, 2022

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to the different types of roof shingles that are available on the market. These types differ in terms of the material they are made of, including but not limited to metal, wood, and asphalt. The option you go for influences how much your roof can withstand adverse weather conditions such as hail, strong winds, and heavy rain. Each type, however, carries its own advantages as well as disadvantages. Whether you’re planning a major home renovation, constructing a new house, or buying a new property, weighing the pros and cons of each shingle material type will allow you to make an informed choice.

Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles

Also referred to as strip shingles, three-tab asphalt shingles are named after the method in which they are prepared and installed. They are rather basic in terms of form and are composed of one layer of asphalt which is later cut into strips. Three-tab roofing shingles also have a flat appearance, almost resembling slate after installation. This type is known to be the most common option for roof replacements or new installations.

Pros

Since strip shingles consist of single layers, they tend to be rather lightweight. This is why they are relatively easier and more affordable to install than other shingle roofing materials. You may be paying as little as $0.90 per square foot for strip shingle roofing and a total installation price of $5000 to $12,000. Three-tabs are also available in a variety of colors, offering aesthetic appeal to the roof.

Cons

Although they usually last up to 20 years, three-tab shingles have been known to wear out quicker than other types of asphalt roofing such as architectural shingles. Moreover, their flat shape may not be visually pleasing to homeowners who prefer more texture.

Pros and Cons of Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles

Pros and Cons of Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles

Metal Roof Shingles

Available in steel, aluminum, tin, copper, and zinc, metal roof shingles are another common option among many homeowners. Metal shingles are formed in a way that, once installed, airspace is created between the metal and the roof deck. This gap serves as a thermal barrier to block the conductive heat flow from the roof’s surface into the attic (similar to the physics behind the gap between glass layers in a thermal pane window).

Pros

Metal shingle roofing tends to be stylish in appearance and is available in a wide spectrum of colors to choose from. Just like its three-tab counterpart, this roofing material is relatively lightweight and easy to install. This makes it an ideal option for houses whose roof system doesn’t allow for heavier varieties. Metal roof shingles can typically last over 100 years, which is more than any other type of roofing material. Besides containing a significant amount of recycled material, metal shingles can also be recycled once they have served their purpose as roofing material.

Cons

Metal shingle roofing can cost twice or even three times as much as other options. Expect to pay anywhere between $5.25 to $12.50 per square foot (and up to $15,000 in installation costs). Although the durability is worth the price, you may want to consider more affordable options if you don’t plan on staying in your home long enough to reap the benefits. Metal shingles also tend to be rather noisy during a hailstorm or heavy rains, and reinforcing attic insulation to reduce the noise only adds to the overall cost.

Architectural Shingles

Also known as dimensional shingles, architectural shingles are a superior type of asphalt roofing. The shingles consist of two or more layers of asphalt laminated together to create a multi-dimensional and somewhat sculpted look. Depending on the design, architectural shingles can emulate slate or wood.

Pros

Due to the large variety of shapes, sizes, as well as colors, architectural shingles have the potential to offer a highly luxurious aesthetic. Unlike three-tab shingles, this option tends to be twice as durable, and only for a slightly higher price. Architectural shingles can cost anywhere between $1.50 to $5.50 per square foot on average and nearly $13,000 to install. With proper maintenance, this type of roofing can last over 50 years. Many brands are even rated to withstand high-speed winds.

Cons

One common reservation around architectural shingles is that they tend to be heavier than their three-tab asphalt counterpart. Therefore, this option may not be suitable for roofs that can’t support the additional weight.

Architectural Shingles Are Available in a Variety of Shapes, Sizes, and Colors

Architectural Shingles Are Available in a Variety of Shapes, Sizes, and Colors

Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are essentially small solar panels shaped like regular shingles. Instead of being mounted on rooftops like most solar panels, these units are built into the roof itself. Commercially available since 2005, solar shingles are among the most modern roofing options. Unlike other roofing types, however, solar shingles are not only there to protect your roof from heavy rains and such. As the name might suggest, they are designed to power your home by generating electricity through solar energy.

Pros

Besides their ability to generate electricity, solar shingle roofs feature a sleek look that’s aesthetically pleasing to look at from the street. This might be good news for those who don’t like the appearance of large solar panels on their roofs. Solar shingles are also designed to endure hailstorms and even hurricane-strength winds. The intended advantage of solar shingles is that it reduces energy costs by a considerable margin.

Cons

The biggest drawback of solar shingles is the hefty price tag. Unless they’re already part of a newly-built roof, solar shingles can cost up to $21 to $25 per square foot and over $60,000 to install. Also, they’re only slightly more durable than three-tab shingles, lasting up to 25 years. 

Wood Shake Roofs

Wood shake shingles are usually made of either cedar or redwood. Instead of being accurately cut, however, the pieces are sawed or hand-split for a more rustic feel. The wood shake’s unrefined cut makes it ideal for farmhouse-style architecture. Timber roof tiles are also among the oldest roofing types available today.

Pros

With regular maintenance, wood shake roofs can last up to 40 years. The material is also ideal for insulation. It helps in maintaining heat in the winter and in keeping the house cool during the summer. Unlike most asphalt shingles, wood shakes are incredibly wind-resistant. As a matter of fact, cedar and redwood shake shingles even tend to stabilize the entire roof deck once installed.

Cons

The strength and longevity of wood shake roofs — in addition to their classy look — come at a price. You can expect to pay $6 to $10 per square foot on average (and a $25,000 installation cost). Another setback is that wood in general is known to be flammable. This prevents wood shake roofs from getting a class A rating.

Wood Shake Roofs Can Be Aesthetically Pleasing

Wood Shake Roofs Can Be Aesthetically Pleasing

Slate Tile Shingles

Slate tile roofing is composed of individual thin slabs of slate. Although the slabs are thin, they collectively become heavy once installed. A roof deck must therefore be reinforced to support the weight of the shingles. The material itself is a metamorphic stone — and a highly durable one of that. Slate roofs are also gaining a great deal of popularity among homeowners who prefer to custom-build their homes.

Pros

When it comes to longevity, no other roofing material can compete with slate. When properly installed, slate tile shingles are known to last over a century. This type of roofing is also resistant to damage. This means you don’t have to worry about repairing or replacing any pieces. Due to their superior qualities, slate shingles are relatively low-maintenance. In terms of aesthetics, slate roofs are available in various colors and sizes, allowing you to possibly achieve any design you have in mind.

Cons

One disadvantage of slate is that it may leave a hole in your wallet. Slate shingles typically average around $8 to $14 per square foot, and you can expect the installation bill to amount to $25,000. Although slate is incredibly durable, the thin shingles tend to be somewhat brittle. This means one has to be really careful when stepping on the roof to repair a satellite, for instance.

Composite Plastic Shingles

Composite plastic roofing shingles are typically made from plastic materials that are recycled. The shingles feature a simple interlocking system, making this roofing option DIY-able. Composite plastic shingles can also be designed to look like slate or wood, minus a few of the associated pros and cons of each.

Pros

A major advantage of plastic shingle roofing is that it’s fairly affordable. You can install the shingles for as little as $7,200 for a roof of 1,800 square feet ($4 to $6 per square foot). The recyclability of the plastic shingles also makes it an eco-friendly option. Moreover, their considerably lightweight allows for easy installation. 

Cons

Although plastic shingles can be designed to have the appearance of slate or wood, they lack one key advantage — durability. Depending on the type of plastic used, this type of roofing lasts between seven years to a couple of decades at most.

Composite Plastic Shingle Roofing is Budget-Friendly and Recyclable

Composite Plastic Shingle Roofing is Budget-Friendly and Recyclable

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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