Architectural Roofing Shingles vs. Standard Asphalt Shingles: What is the Difference?

What Are Architectural Roofing Shingles?
These Architectural Roofing Shingles Are Owens Corning Duration In The Sedona Canyon Color.

Architectural Roofing Shingles vs. Standard Asphalt Shingles: What is the Difference?

Whichever way you look at it, roofing your home is a big step, not to mention a huge investment that you don’t want to be making very often.  Here’s where things get difficult: what type of roofing shingles should you go for? It’s quite likely your roofing contractor has provided you with a few different options for shingles.  Most people don’t think about the long-term value of roofing shingles.  You’d be forgiven if you’re one of them because the initial cost of roofing can be, quite frankly, exorbitant, and overwhelming for some homeowners.

But think about it this way, would you rather splurge on high quality expensive shingles that can last 30+ years in bad weather or go for a more affordable variety that will need replacing after 5-10 years? The choice is entirely yours of course, but it’s generally less expensive in the long-term to choose the more durable option.

This article merely seeks to explain the value of architectural roofing shingles and why you’re better off spending more for them than sticking with the traditional 3 tab asphalt shingles.

What Are Architectural Roofing Shingles?

Architectural shingles are also referred to as dimensional or laminate shingles.  Although they existed before the ’80s, it was during this period that they were refined into the much higher-quality asphalt roofing shingles that they are today.

So why are architectural roofing shingles considered the highest more quality roofing products today?

Well for starters, they are made from a mixture of ceramic-coated mineral granules set compactly into refined waterproof asphalt and a heavy base of fiberglass mat. This makes them completely waterproof as well as extremely durable due to their extra thickness.

The other reason why the discernible homeowner might prefer architectural shingles over traditional asphalt shingles is that they come in varying textures. Not only does this add some dimension to your roof, but it provides a more decorative appearance and helps create some stunning roofing designs.

Today, you’ll find architectural roofing made to mimic cedar wood shakes. Cedar Shakes such as CertainTeed’s Presidential Shake® Shingles or Owens Corning Woodcrest® Shingles are made to resemble authentic cedar wood shakes.  Everything from their thickness down to the random positioning of the slots aims to imitate the real thing, making them an excellent choice in roofing shingles if you like that look.

If you mostly prefer the traditional look of slate shingles,then Owens Corning Berkshire® or CertainTeed’s Carriage House®, Belmont®, and Grand Manor® will also do the trick.  Slate shingles are notoriously heavy and often require additional roof support, but that’s not something you would worry about with architectural shingles. With them, you get all of the durability and unique look of slate but without the incredible added weight of an actual slate roof.

Architectural shingles are available in a wide array of colors and textures.  You’ll find that they make much better accents for turrets, gables, and roof planes.  Furthermore, CertainTeed also produces accessory shingles for the hip and ridge part of your roof (Shadow Ridge®, Mountain Ridge®, and Cedar Crest®) as well as Owens Corning (DecoRidge®, ProRidge® and ProRidge torm®), giving you the freedom to highlight different sections of your roof as you please while protecting vulnerable areas of the roof.

Architectural Roofing Shingles vs. Standard (3-tab) Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Architectural roofing shingles are great, but how do they stack up against traditional 3 tab asphalt roofing shingles?

Let’s start with the basics: sizes. 3-tab shingles only have one shingle tab size and shape. This lends them a very standard “cheap” look that’s often associated with low-budget roofing jobs. Architectural shingles, on the other hand, have shingles of various shapes and sizes. Because of this, they’re much closer to shake or slate roofing in terms of appearance, and they create a more dimensional (3D) look.

3-tab shingles are lighter, but that’s only because they’re made of a single flat layer. While this robs them of any sort of dimension (they are pretty much flat on your roof), it does make them the better roofing option for weaker structures, like a shed, barn, or garage.  Architectural shingles weigh almost 50 percent more than 3-tab shingles.

Due to their weight and thickness, architectural shingles have much longer warranties than most 3-tab shingles. On average, architectural shingles come with at least a 30-year up to a lifetime warranty (when installed as a complete system from the manufacturer), and on top of that, they are rated highly resistant to high wind velocities and hail damage.  3-tab shingles are lighter and thinner than architectural shingles, so they’re obviously not expected to last as long. As such, they have much shorter warranties.

On the other hand, architectural shingles are not cheap. Compared to 3-tab shingles, they are more expensive, which is why you’ll still find plenty of rental residential properties making use of 3 tab shingles. It’s not that 3-tab shingles are low quality or anything, they still make a great roof and will protect your home and it’s contents, it’s just that they don’t offer the same long-term value as architectural shingles, which tend to have a higher initial cost.

That being said, more people are realizing the benefits of architectural shingles, which explains the decline in the popularity of 3-tab shingles and most roofing manufacturers now have a very strong line-up of architectural shingles to offer consumers.  Expensive as they are, architectural shingles can also raise the resale value of your home in both curb appeal and peace-of-mind, and this is another reason why people are less shy about splurging on these long-lasting roofing materials.

When is the 3-Tab Roofing Shingle the Better Option?

Architectural shingles may be all the rave today, but that doesn’t mean that 3-tab shingles are useless.  For many homeowners and many applications the 3 tab shingle is still an excellent choice in a roofing material and will still provide many years of trouble free service when installed by a certified professional.

Here are three instances when 3 tab shingle roofing is ideal.

1. When You’re On a Tight Budget

3-tab shingles are much more affordable than architectural shingles. In the construction of low-cost homes, these are still the best option due to their low initial cost. Granted, you will spend more over the years as you replace them, they will still cost considerably less to install.  If you are remodeling a rental property or replacing a roof on a home that you plan to sell in a few years you also might want to consider the purchase of 3 tab shingles.

2. When Building Low-Cost Homes

Building rental apartments in a low-income area calls for some reasonable spending.  3-tab shingles are perfect for these types of structures. Their low initial cost makes them an attractive prospect for roofing low-cost homes and apartments.  They are still a very durable product, they just don’t have the same aesthetic appeal, and will likely need to be replaced within 10-15 years of use.

3. In Areas with Relatively Good Weather

3-tab shingles are not made to the same level of durability as architectural shingles. They are lighter and much more prone to damage from harsh weather like hail. In good weather, however, they can be as good a roofing option as any. Places with good climate are the most ideal for this kind of roofing.  In Wisconsin we have snow and ice for several months of the year and we often do get pretty wild hailstorms that are known to cause damage to this type of roofing.  Is an architectural shingle better for hail?  Yes, but a good quality 3 tab shingle from a well known manufacturer is still a good enough product to feel safe in your home.

Cons of 3-Tab Roofing Shingles

1. Need to Be Replaced Every 10-20 Years

3-tab shingles are not known for their durability. With good maintenance they are at most a 15-20 year shingle, but that’s about as much as you can expect, much less if the shingles are of poor quality and were not installed to factory specifications.

2. Cannot Withstand Harsh Weather Conditions

Do not even consider 3-tab shingles if you live in an area that is known to experience very high-speed winds, heavy rains, and brutal hail.  Bad weather can rip cheap roofing apart quickly and lessen it’s lifespan considerably, and you’ll end up spending more time (and money) repairing it than you would if you had opted for high quality architectural shingles in the first place.

3. Only Available in One Size

Forget about the dimensional or textured look and style if you decide to go with 3-tab shingles. These only come in a small handful of styles, which makes it extremely hard to accentuate or highlight specific parts of your roof. They don’t score very highly when it comes to aesthetics or improving curb appeal either.

Why Architectural Roofing Shingles Almost Always Win

1. More Resistant to High-Speed Winds

The heavier, thicker shingles are able to withstand bad weather, making them great candidates for regions with frequent winds. Architectural shingles generally contain thicker materials and are designed to be much more impervious to harsh weather. These are the shingles you want protecting your home in a harsh storm.

2. Thicker and Therefore More Durable

Durability shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to roofing, especially since a house’s primary function is to provide shelter for your family and your belongings.  Architectural shingles are far more durable than 3-tab shingles, and if this doesn’t warrant their higher price tag, then nothing can.  Furthermore, splurging on these shingles can ensure you have a great performing roof for the next 30-50 years with some manufacturers even offering lifetime warranties on their product.

3. Increase a Home’s Resale Value

It’s easy to wonder: how exactly does my roof add to my home’s resale value? Let’s answer that by putting ourselves in the shoes of the typical home buyer.

Would you buy a home that requires major renovation? Probably not, or you’d expect to negotiate a lesser price on the home in lieu of the fact it needs extensive work done.  The same way you wouldn’t even consider buying a home with an old roof that is need of an immediate replacement before you move in.  In both cases, you’ll want to negotiate a much lower price, because who else is going to shoulder the cost of roof repairs and renovations?

So when a buyer sees a home with a roof that looks brand new even if it isn’t, they are immediately convinced that the house is not going to fall apart in the next few months. They are less likely to turn away or negotiate the price down if the roof is in good condition, even less so if the roofing looks great, and adds to the curb appeal of the home.

A good quality dimensional shingle roof drastically improves your curb appeal, making your home stand out. Whichever way you look at it, spending more on long-lasting, beautiful architectural shingles is a surefire way to drive up your property value. Just ask your real estate agent and you’re going to get the same answer.

4. Have a Much Longer Warranty

Architectural shingles typically last more than 30 years, with most manufacturers offering 30-50 year or lifetime “non pro-rated” warranties.  To qualify for the maximum warranty on any shingle you must have installed the roof as a “system” from that manufacturer which can include the use of their underlay products, water and ice shields, hip and ridge shingles and more.  The roof will also have to be installed by a certified roofer who has undertaken factory training for that specific brand of roofing products.

At Paragon Exteriors we are CertainTeed Select Shingle Masters, an Owens Corning Preferred Contractor, and a GAF certified weatherstopper contractor.  This means our installations follow all of the manufacturers recommendations.

5. Give Shingle Roofs Gorgeous Dimensional Look

There’s something stunning about architectural shingles, especially in the way they mimic luxury roofing materials such as shake or slate.  Architectural shingles allow you to have all the freedom to express your sense of style, all the while offering unmatched durability and resilience.

It’s not a very hard decision to make: architectural shingles are in every way the future of roofing shingles.  Whether it’s durability, style, dimension, or quality you’re after, you’re much more likely to find it with a good architectural shingle.  Yes,… You may need to spend more initially, but architectural shingles can pay back every cent over the years as they outlast every 3-tab shingle roof by decades. They may not be the cheapest choice, but architectural shingles are the smartest choice.

Paragon Exteriors Installs Architectural Shingles Throughout Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties Wisconsin

If you’re looking for a reliable, trustworthy company to replace your roof with architectural shingles consider Paragon Exteriors.  With our lifetime workmanship warranty, factory certified installations, and price-match guarantee you’re not going to find better pricing or better workmanship for your roof replacement.

Paragon Exteriors also offers easy to qualify financing programs as well so you can get the roof you need now without worrying about how you’re going to find the lump sum of money to pay for it.  You can read about our roof financing programs here.

If you’d like to schedule your architectural roof replacement please call 262-565-8282 or fill out our online contact form and we’ll get right back to you.

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