Understanding the Differences between Shingle Types




Asphalt shingles are one of the most common and popular styles of roof available. However, there are a multitude of shingle types that suit different needs, styles and budgets. Choosing the right type of shingle for your home can be difficult - unless you know what you're looking for.

The Basics of Roof Shingles

While most homeowners are familiar with the basics behind asphalt shingles, they often don't know many of the details that can help them make an informed decision. While shingles may seem simple, there is a lot of variation between shingle styles and types.

Asphalt shingles come in two basic types: fiberglass and organic.

  • Fiberglass shingles use a layer of woven fiberglass mat as their base. This makes them durable and strong but also lightweight. The fiberglass mat is topped with a layer of asphalt and then a top coat of ceramic granules for protection and durability.
  • Organic shingles use a thick layer of asphalt-saturated felt in place of fiberglass. Organic shingles are thicker and heavier than fiberglass. Despite their name, they are also less environmentally-friendly, due to the higher asphalt content in each shingle.

For the vast majority of homeowners, fiberglass shingles are a better choice. Modern fiberglass shingles are almost always more cost-effective and are just as durable as organic shingles.

Shingle Styles

Along with the materials used, roof shingles also come in a number of styles. The most common styles are three-tab shingles and architectural (also called dimensional) shingles.

Three-tab shingles are named because the lower exposed edge of each shingle is cut into three "tabs," making it look like three separate, smaller shingles. Three-tab shingles are a very popular and economical choice. They come in a number of styles and colors to suit your home.

Architectural shingles are a thicker, more durable shingle option for homeowners who want a long-lasting roof. Architectural shingles achieve their textured, dimensional look by adding an extra layer of asphalt beneath the fiberglass core. They also don't have any tabs - each shingle is an individual unit. Some specialty architectural shingles, such as GAF'sTimberline and Designer shingles, also have a bottom layer of adhesive to keep the shingle firmly in place for many years.

Choosing a Shingle Type

When it comes to choosing which type of shingle is best for your home, you'll need to consider several factors. Some of the biggest are:

  • Your Roof Style - Different styles of roofs suit different shingle types better. If your roof has a complex architecturewith lots of eaves, architectural shingles may be a good choice since they stand up to channeled water better. In contrast, homes with low-slope roofs should stick to thinner shingles, since these roofs are more likely to experience wind-driven rainfall and ice buildup which can damage dimensional shingles.
  • Your Surroundings - A good roof accents your home without making it stand out. If the houses in your neighborhood are roofed with dimensional shingles and cedar shakes, a flat three-tab shingle might look out of place.
  • Environmental Concerns - Durability is a chief concern for any roof. Architectural shingles are thicker and tougher, and they last longer in most circumstances.
  • Warranty - Another major consideration for your roof is the warranty. A good roof is an investment, and a warranty can help protect that investment against many circumstances. At Brax Roofing, we offer a 25 year warranty on three-tab shingles, and 50 year warranties on architectural shingles.
  • Budget - Finally, you'll need to consider your own budget for your roof and measure that against your other needs. If economy is your biggest concern, three-tab shingles offer great performance at an unbeatable price. Architectural shingles are a bigger investment, but that investment pays off in a longer lifespan and more style options.

No matter which type of asphalt shingle you choose for your home, you need to work with a roofing contractor you can trust to do the job right. If you're ready to take the next step with your roofing project, contact us today at Brax Roofing.


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About The Author

Ben Matthews is a managing partner at BRAX Roofing, a multi-faceted company that focuses on residential and commercial roofing throughout Maryland and Washington DC. Having obtained the highest certifications in roofing from leading manufacturers around the country, Ben takes pride in providing BRAX Roofing customers with top-quality exterior home improvement service and expertise.