A Guide to The Best Shingles

Apr 15, 2023

WRITTEN BY:

Viking Contractors

CATEGORY:

Uncategorized

POSTED ON:

April 15, 2023

UPDATED ON:

May 10, 2024

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Shingles are your roof’s first line of defense against the elements. Professionals install them in a way that prevents debris and water from penetrating your roof and causing damage to your building’s interior. 

They also come in many textures, styles, and colors to serve as aesthetic features that can make or break the coherence of your building’s design.

This emphasizes the importance of getting the appropriate shingles for your roof. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best shingles, including their role, types, materials, and the best U.S. brands.

How Important Are Roof Shingles?

Investing in high-quality, durable shingles for your roof will protect it and your home interior from the elements, ensuring their longevity and enhancing your building’s visual appeal. 

Several issues could arise if you opt for low-quality shingles or if your contractor’s installation wasn’t high standard. 

The most common issue is leaking, where water can seep through the roof and damage your interior. This can result in rot, mold, mildew, ceiling bubbles, and more dangerous problems that you should address immediately. 

The elements can also damage your roof decking over time, harming your building structure’s integrity and increasing the risk of a collapse or electrical and fire hazards. 

Improperly-installed shingles could have gaps between them through which air can enter or escape, impeding your roof ventilation system. This can result in increased energy bills caused by your HVACs overworking to maintain a comfortable interior temperature.

Finally, low-quality shingles are less durable and are prone to quick deterioration, further increasing the risk of the dangers associated with them and affecting the visual appeal of your building.

What Are the Types of Roofing Shingles?

The two main types of shingles are:

  • Three-Tab Shingles: A single layer of material, usually asphalt, comprises these flat shingles. They fit together like a puzzle, are easy to install, are the cheapest option, and feature three notched tabs along the lower edge—hence the name. However, most contractors avoid these shingles because they can’t withstand harsh conditions. 
  • Architectural Shingles: Several layers of durable material capable of handling harsher weather conditions comprise these shingles. They’re also thicker and heavier than three-tab shingles. They can also mimic the appearance of other materials, such as wood, giving your home a distinctive look and ensuring your roof’s longevity.

The three shingle types that fall under the category of architectural shingles are:

1. Strip Shingles

Strip shingles are a common roofing material among homeowners since they combine cost-effectiveness and durability. They’re rectangular and installed in rows, each overlapping the one below it to ensure the water flows down instead of seeping through.

  • They’re made from base materials, typically fiberglass or organic felt, and coated with asphalt and ceramic granules.
  • The ceramic granules give them a distinct texture and protect them from ultraviolet radiation and moisture.
  • They come in several colors and textures to match your building’s design aesthetic.
  • They can last an average of 20 to 30 years.

2. Dimensional Shingles

Gray shingles for covering the roof. Building material flexible tile background.

Unlike strip shingles, dimensional shingles are made from two or more layers of material and are heavier and thicker, featuring a more complex design. They’re also set horizontally during installation, except the overlapping edges are varied in shape and size to give your roof a more impressive three-dimensional appearance. 

  • While they’re usually made with asphalt, there are options for rubber, metal, plastic, and composite dimensional shingles.
  • They’re also covered with ceramic granules to protect against the elements.
  • They offer more options in material and shape choice, allowing for specific design styles.
  • They’re much more durable, lasting from 25 to 50 years.

3. Luxury Shingles

Luxury shingles are a high-end roofing material combining excellent functionality and sophistication. The shingles are made from an expensive material, such as clay, slate, metal, or thicker, more durable asphalt. The latter mimics the look of higher-end materials with its intricate multi-dimensional design.

  • They feature a textured, multi-dimensional design for maximum visual appeal.
  • They come in many materials, colors, and textures, ensuring you can find something that matches your design style.
  • They’re highly durable, lasting a minimum of 30 years.
  • They can include high-end features such as UV-resistant coatings, algae-resistant granules, etc.

Which Are The Best Shingles?

It depends. Your choice of shingles will depend on your roofing needs, home design, geographic location, and several other factors. We’ll highlight the factors you’ll need to mind before deciding and provide you with a few pertinent suggestions.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Shingles

To guarantee optimal performance for your roof, consider the following:

  • Cost: There are several types of shingles and materials to choose from, so opt for something you can afford, but don’t prioritize cost-effectiveness over durability. Try to avoid three-tab shingles. Asphalt is inexpensive and is the norm among most homeowners.
  • Durability: Your roof must last long. Opt for a material that can withstand your geographic location’s weather conditions. For example, clay is durable but isn’t common in humid areas due to its vulnerability to humidity. In contrast, asphalt is a jack of all trades but doesn’t last as long as clay or slate.
  • Resistances: Your roofing material needs to be resistant to several elements, including wind, water (and its consequences), and heat, and shouldn’t be a breeding ground for pests.
  • Aesthetics: You should pick a roofing material that aligns with the rest of your building’s design style to ensure it doesn’t come off as jarring to the eye.
  • Maintenance: Your roofing material should require minimal maintenance to function optimally. However, proper roof maintenance will ensure your roof’s longevity, health, and the comfort of your building’s interior.

The Best Shingles Manufacturers in the US

Below, we’ll list several notable roofing shingles manufacturers.

1. GAF 

GAF is a leading entity in the roofing industry, protecting 1 in 4 homes in the U.S. and raising awareness of recycling shingles to minimize environmental impact. They have a wide selection of products, including high-quality 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury shingles, so you can find something that meets your budget.

One of the most popular products is their Timberline HDZ® shingles which come in multiple colors with high-tech features, such as algae protection and LayerLock. 

Pros:

  • It offers high-quality roofing shingles that guarantee longevity and maximum protection.
  • It offers extended warranties, with coverage ranging from 10 years to a lifetime, ensuring peace of mind with your investment.
  • It guarantees sustainability with its eco-friendly options, such as reflective roofing shingles. It’s also the founder of the Certified Green Roofer program.
  • It’s reputable, with 1 in 4 American homes protected by GAF.

Cons:

  • GAF is one of the most expensive roofing product brands in the U.S.
  • Compared to its competitors, its product range is limited.

2. Owens Corning 

Owens Corning is a global leader in everything roof – insulation, roofing, and fiberglass composite materials. Their products value energy efficiency, safety, and durability, and the company offers its clients products designed to fit their projects and stand the test of time.

Some of their most popular products include the Duration® and Oakridge® shingles, which are outstandingly resistant to harsh weather conditions.

Pros:

  • Its shingles are built to last, with products guaranteed to serve you for many years.
  • Their products have several high-tech features, including EverGuard Technology, which makes shingles 50% more resistant to wear and tear.
  • They offer a wide selection of products to cater to all budgets, from starter shingles to specialty roofing shingles.

Cons:

  • Its competitors’ products outperform some of its products.
  • Its customer service could be improved upon, especially concerning the warranty.

3. CertainTeed

CertainTeed is another leader in shingle manufacturing, having been featured in several lists for its commitment to sustainable product development and environmental care. Its products are among the best in the industry. They include high-tech features such as QuadraBond®  technology to secure shingles and StreakFighter® algae resistance.

The company offers shingles in a broad range of colors and styles. Its Landmark® asphalt products combine the elegance of wood shakes while maintaining the durability and cost-effectiveness of asphalt. The company also offers mid-range and starter shingles.

Pros:

  • It offers a wide selection of asphalt shingle products, from luxury to three-tab and strip shingles.
  • Its products are highly durable due to their heavy weight and added high-tech features, easily outperforming competitors.
  • It offers a lifetime-limited warranty, ensuring your peace of mind.
  • It’s concerned with sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Cons:

  • Its products are often more expensive than the competitors in each category.

4. Malarkey

Malarkey is a family-owned business devoted to producing environmentally-friendly roofing shingles. Their shingles are made of rubberized asphalt, which guarantees protection against extreme weather conditions, and contain upcycled rubber and plastics and smog-reducing granules.

Highlander® is among their most popular shingle lines. It’s the most economical, enabling individuals with a low budget to access a high-performing roofing material. Its Legacy™ Scotchgard™ line is the highest-performing, receiving excellent impact resistance and durability scores.

Pros: 

  • It’s dedicated to environmental stewardship, offering eco-friendly products that use upcycled materials.
  • It offers a wide range of products, each with unique features and in many colors and textures, catering to all budgets.
  • Its products are high-quality and perform outstandingly, even the cost-effective ones.
  • It also offers an excellent warranty plan.

Cons:

  • Malarkey is among the most expensive brands in the U.S.

5. IKO

IKO is a family-owned business specializing in roofing, waterproofing, and insulation. They’re best known for producing asphalt shingles that stand the test of time and offer many products at affordable prices to guarantee your home receives the protection it deserves.

Their most popular product is the Cambridge® line. These laminated architectural shingles evoke the look of high-end materials to enhance your curb appeal at an affordable price. They can withstand extreme weather conditions, come in many colors, and a limited lifetime warranty backs them.

Pros:

  • IKO is one of the most affordable roofing brands.
  • Its products are highly durable, combining energy efficiency and longevity.
  • Its products come in many stunning colors to match your design aesthetic.
  • It offers an excellent warranty plan to ensure you receive the results you paid for.

Cons:

  • The company isn’t as well-known as its competitors.
  • Its ratings were affected by past lawsuits concerning product quality.

Roof Shingles: A Breakdown of The Materials and Their Cost

Value and Cost Graph

It’s best to learn what makes each material stand out and how much it costs so that you can make an informed decision.

Asphalt

Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material. Their quality wildly differs depending on the brand, but they’re generally less expensive than other materials.

Asphalt is highly resistant to wind, impact, and rain. But it can be susceptible to hail. Fire resistance-wise, it’s available in different classes, with class A being the most resistant. It can also last from 15 to 30 years or more.

Asphalt shingles cost from $1.75 to $5.50 per square foot. Three-tab shingles are less expensive than architectural asphalt shingles.

Wood

Wood is another popular roofing material due to its beauty, durability, and natural insulation. Its cost and how it performs will vary greatly depending on which type of wood you use, with common roofing materials including cedar, redwood, and pine.

Wood is resistant to impacts and wind. However, some types may be susceptible to rot, fire, and pest damage. These types are sometimes treated with flame retardants and other chemicals to increase their resistance. With proper maintenance, it can last between 20 and 50 years.

The pricing of wood shingles varies depending on the type of wood, but expect from $4 to $8 per square foot. And cedar costs $4.10 to $7.50 per square foot.

Clay

Clay is an elegant and beautiful high-end roofing material. It’s also one of the most durable and resistant materials, being immune to fading and discoloration caused by sunlight.

Clay tiles are resistant to extreme weather conditions, fire, and insects. However, depending on the clay’s quality, it can be susceptible to impact damage. Clay tiles also require minimal maintenance, can last up to 100 years, and are resistant to rot, mold, and mildew—as long as you install them properly to avoid cracks and leaks.

The national average cost per square foot for clay tile roofing is $10.90, but it can range from $7.80 to $14.05, depending on clay quality.

Metal

best shingles - Construction of the roof of the house. Metal tiles.

Metal shingles are a high-end roofing material made from various types of metal, most commonly copper and aluminum. They’re designed to be lightweight and resistant to the harshest conditions.

Metal shingles are virtually invulnerable to weather conditions and can also withstand fire and pests. They’re a great option if you live in an area prone to harsh weather conditions or wildfires. With proper installation, they require minimal maintenance and can last from 35 to 80 years.

Metal shingles’ cost will vary depending on the type of metal. They start at $3 and can go up to $25.40 per square foot, with aluminum and corrugated steel roofing being the least expensive materials and copper being the most expensive.

Slate

Slate is another high-end roofing material appreciated for its incredible resistance and aesthetic appeal. It’s made from natural slate rocks. These rocks come in many textures and colors, ensuring you’ll find something ideal for your design style.

Slate rocks are impervious to the harshest weather conditions and damage. With proper installation and maintenance, they can last for generations.

Slate shingles’ cost will depend on the type of slate used (hard and soft slate). Hard slate is more durable and expensive. You can expect a price of between $10 and $30 per square foot.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I Install a New Roof?

It depends on several factors, especially the condition of your roof. You should replace your roof if it’s approaching or exceeding its material’s age or if it succumbed to extensive damage from a natural disaster. We recommend getting a roof inspection for a precise assessment of your situation.

However, you should consider replacing your roof if you notice increased energy bills. Cracks and improper insulation can hinder your interior’s ability to maintain a comfortable temperature, overworking your HVACs and A.C.s. 

Finally, replacing your roof is a good idea if you plan on selling your home, especially if you install a higher-end material such as copper, slate, or wood. A new roof will increase your home’s value and make it more attractive to customers, and you’ll get a hefty percentage return on your investment.

How Can I Install a New Roof?

Installing a roof is a complex process. We recommend you leave it to a professional. Hiring a professional will ensure a precise, mistake-free installation that’ll save you from later frustrations and ensure your safety.

Wrap Up

Shingles protect your home from the elements and ensure your interior remains comfortable to live in. It’s best to invest in high-quality shingles and hire a professional contractor to do the installation for you to ensure minimal long-term issues. 

There are countless materials to choose from, with asphalt being affordable and slate being elegant yet expensive. However, several brands, including GAF and Owens Corning, produce high-end asphalt shingles for all your roofing needs.

Make sure you check out our online quote to get a precise quote for your next installation!

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