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16 Types of Roofing Shingles & Their Differences

Published on Wednesday March 15, 2017

When it comes time to replace your roof, figuring out which type of roof shingle is best for your home can be a mammoth task. There are so many different types of shingles to choose from, all with their own list of pros and cons, cost differences, and unique styles. It can get overwhelming, fast.

We’ve broken down 16 different types of roof shingles to help. A new roof is a big, important investment. It’s always a good idea to know what you’re dealing with and what to expect from the types of roof shingles you choose, so here are details on 16 different types of shingles you can consider for your roof replacement:

  • 3 Tab Shingles
  • Dimensional Shingles
  • Luxury Shingles
  • Aluminum Shingles
  • Standing Seam Metal
  • Corrugated Steel
  • Wood Shingles
  • Wood Shake Shingles
  • Clay Tiles
  • Concrete Tile
  • Slate Tile
  • Impact-Resistant Shingles
  • Composition Shingles
  • Solar Panels
  • Copper Shingles
  • Rubber Roof Shingles

Asphalt Shingles

What are Asphalt Shingles?

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material currently used on homes across the United States. There are many different types of asphalt shingles, all of which are easy to install, accessible, and surprisingly economical to produce. Their cost and lifespan allow them to compare favorably against many competing roofing types.

Designed to protect your home against weather and moisture, they require minimal maintenance and come in hundreds of styles and colors. Read on to learn more about all the different asphalt shingle types and see which is right for you and your home.

Types of asphalt shingles.

Should I Get Asphalt Shingles? 

Asphalt shingle roofing is a great option for homeowners wanting something budget-friendly yet effective and reliable for their roofing upgrade. Asphalt shingles come in a wide variety of shapes and designs, so homeowners with a specific idea or a unique home design are able to find a roof they love. Asphalt shingles can be treated to resist algae growth, impact resistance against hail damage, and even cool your home. Certain types of asphalt shingles can lower your insurance costs as well.

If you’re looking for the most durable roofing material or one that will last the longest, asphalt shingles aren’t your best option. There are many other roofing types—such as metal roofing—that offer more durability and longevity. Asphalt shingles are naturally fire-resistant, but they aren’t as effective as some other roofing types against wind and severe storms.

Types of Asphalt Shingles

The different types of asphalt shingles have improved greatly since their first debut in the United States back in the early 1900s. You can find many asphalt shingles types today available in different sizes, colors, and styles to suit different climates and home needs. They are perfect for many homeowners in need of new roofs.

Typically, asphalt shingle types are made of a material mixture including asphalt, granules, sealants, fiberglass, and release film. Stable resin is used to bind glass fibers to reinforce and add durability to the asphalt shingles, while the asphalt allows it to be water-resistant. The granules added to asphalt shingles provide color variety and UV protection. Typically, asphalt shingles are composed of layers: a base mat, layer of waterproofing asphalt, and a layer of ceramic granules.

While there are many types of asphalt shingles, they also come in fiberglass or organic makeup.

The options may seem overwhelming, but asphalt shingles are a great choice for almost any home. Asphalt shingles are durable, affordable and come in incredible variety of colors and styles to match almost any exterior. So how do you choose?

Home with asphalt shingles

1. 3-Tab Shingles

Example of a strip asphalt shingle

What is a 3 tab shingle?

Also known as “strip shingles,” 3-tab asphalt shingles get their name from the way they are cut and installed. They are the most basic form of shingle, made out of a single layer of asphalt and cut into strips. They appear flat, offering a type of slate look to your roof upon installation. 3-tab shingles are lightweight since they are made from a single strip, so they are more affordable than many other asphalt shingle types and competing roofing materials. The downside to 3-tab shingles is their limited aesthetic options and they have the potential to blow off easier than other asphalt shingles types.

Generally, the expected lifespan of a 3-tab shingle roof is 18-20 years. When considering cost, some 3-tab shingle roofing can be as cheap as $0.90 per square foot of roofing material.

Pros – 3-tab shingles are affordable and can last a couple decades in the right conditions.
Cons – Fewer aesthetic options, potential blow-off issues and a shorter lifespan.

Example of a home with strip asphalt shingles

2. Dimensional Shingles

Example of architectural asphalt shingles

What are dimensional shingles?

Also known as “architectural shingles” or “laminate shingles,” this is the most common asphalt shingle. During manufacturing, they are given two or more layers to create a thicker, multi-dimensional appearance to the final roof. They can be designed to replicate natural slate or wood shake aesthetics so could potentially boost the curb appeal to your home. One disadvantage of dimensional shingles is that they are heavier than 3-tab shingles, so they add more weight to your roof. However, they tend to be more durable due to their double layers.

Example of dimensional asphalt shingles.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) reports that dimensional asphalt shingles are the most popular asphalt shingle used today.  Fine Home Building Magazine Issue 214 reports that dimensional asphalt shingles (also known as architectural laminate shingles) accounted for nearly three-quarters of all asphalt roofing sales in 2010. Everything points to that trend continuing through 2017.

You can expect most dimensional shingle roofs to come with a 30-year manufacturer warranty. When installed properly, you can expect your dimensional shingle roof to last 25-28 years. They tend to cost about 20 percent more than 3-tab shingles at about $3-$5 per square foot installed.

3. Luxury Shingles

Example of luxury asphalt shingles

What are luxury shingles?

Also known as “premium shingles,” these are the highest quality type of asphalt shingles. Standing out due to appearance and functionality, these laminated asphalt shingles offer premium weather protection while giving a beautiful look to your home. They are functional, dimensional, come in plenty of color options, and are by far the most durable asphalt shingle option. They offer the most realistic interpretation of wood shake and slate roofing while being far more affordable than those roofing types. Their main cons are weight—they are double the weight of 3-tab shingles—and cost.

The advantage of that extra weight? Extra strength against tears and impact. That’s helpful if you live in a tornado, hurricane, or hail-prone region. This premium asphalt shingle roof type can last 25-30 years and you can expect them to be the most expensive asphalt shingle.

What’s there to love about luxury asphalt shingles? Multi-Dimensional appearance; maximum durability; more affordable than slate or cedar alternatives.

Home with luxury asphalt shingles

4. Aluminum Shingles

Metal roofing has become increasingly popular over the last years, and metal roof shingles are often preferred due to their stylish appearance, durability, and flexibility in color and design. Aluminum shingles are easy to install since they are a lightweight material, and are therefore the perfect option for many older homes that don’t have the structure to support heavy shingles.

Metal roofing is becoming a popular choice for roof replacements due to its durability and long lifespan. Aluminum shingles can last up to 100 years when they are properly installed and maintained.

The downside when it comes to aluminum shingles is the price. Metal roofing shingles can cost anywhere from $5 to $13 per square foot—or $500 to $1,300 per square. That’s much higher than the $350-$450 of 3 tab asphalt shingles. 

5. Standing Seam Metal

A standing seam metal roof is a type of roof that has raised seams—or vertical legs—that are raised above the flat area of the metal panel. While most homeowners aren’t aware of it, the standing seam system can be used to make a wall or a roof, the latter of which is most common.

The main advantage of standing seam metal roofs is that the fastener is protected by being hidden. The metal panel can be attached to your roof deck via a clip, or it can be directly fastened to the ducking material with a fastener flange underneath the vertical leg.

Standing seam roofs do come in a variety of colors, widths, shapes, thicknesses, and more, helping them become popular for their ability to suit different preferences. 

6. Corrugated Steel

This type of metal roofing is made from a metal sheet roll-formed into panels. The steel panes, which are traditionally wavy, are screwed directly to the roof. It’s a fairly low-cost way of getting a metal roof, and it’s also very lightweight, durable, long-lasting, and energy-efficient. 

The term “corrugated” can be a tricky term, but people in the roofing industry use it to refer to the wavy “S” shape of the panel. Anything that is rounded and wavy can be corrugated, so boxy, square shapes are excluded. The actual term, however, means a type of metal that is formed into ridges or grooves—which would include boxy, square shapes. Be sure to clarify when determining your roofing style.

The corrugating process is meant to increase the strength of the metal sheet, helping it be more resistant to breaking. Corrugating gives the steel panel a high strength-to-weight ratio, allowing it to hold up much better over time.

7. Wood Shingles

As the name implies, wood shingles are made from wood. Wood shingles are cut into perfect, identical shapes, so there isn’t a lot of flexibility in terms of design. Wood shingles are also susceptible to rot and mold if improperly maintained, though they do have a unique appearance that many homeowners fall in love with.

Wood shingles can last anywhere from 15 to 50 years. It all depends on what type of wood is used for the shingles, how the wood is treated prior to installation, the quality of the installation job, and how well the roof is maintained. 

8. Wood Shake Shingles

Wood shakes and wood shingles are very similar. The difference between the two is mostly about style. While wood shingles are cut into perfect shapes that all match each other, wood shakes are sawn off or hand split. Wood shake shingles are usually made out of cedar trees. Logs are split into shakes, which gives the roof a much more rustic appearance than wood shingles. 

Wood shake shingles tend to be more expensive than wood shingles and can last anywhere from 30 to 40 years depending on the quality of wood, installation, and maintenance. Like wood shingles, wood shake shingles are susceptible to rot and mold.

9. Clay Tiles

Clay roofing tiles are made exactly how they sound: with clay. Clay tiles can range slightly in color, from whites to yellow, to orange, and even to brown. The density of the tiles depends on how long they were heated and what the temperature was, but they are one of the most durable types of roof shingles.

While clay tiles do give your home a unique appearance, they can cost anywhere from two to three times as much as the standard asphalt shingle roof. They are a durable, long-lasting roofing option that is eco-friendly, low maintenance, and resistant to rot and mold, but they are expensive, difficult to install, brittle, unsuited to some roof slopes, and are heavy.

10. Concrete Tile

Concrete roofing tiles are a more budget-friendly alternative to traditional clay tiles. If you want the appearance of a clay tile roof and high durability but without the high cost, consider a concrete tile roof. 

Concrete tiles have a substantial lifespan of about 50 years, offer excellent fire protection, and don’t require a lot of maintenance. They are also very resistant to rot and mold. But just like clay tiles, concrete tile roofing can be very heavy and isn’t suitable for all roof slopes. Their color can also fade over time.

11. Slate Tile

This prestigious roofing material is popular for its beautiful appearance. Made from metamorphic rock, it can have a weak bond between its layers. That’s why slate tile is usually split right along those planes. While individual tiles can have a tendency to crack, a full roof made out of slate tile can last for 50 years without needing a replacement.

The installation process for slate tiles can be complicated since it requires a solid mortar surface and a skilled hand. A disadvantage to slate tile roofing is definitely the softness of the tile and their tendency to split, but they do have a lot of longevity. 

12. Impact-Resistant Shingles

If you’re looking through different types of shingles in search of something that’s going to withstand high winds and hail, this is a great choice. An “impact-resistant shingle” is a type of shingle designed to withstand hail damage and high winds. They come in a variety of material types, including copper, aluminum, plastic, and resin. 

For a shingle to be approved as impact-resistant, it must first pass testing classes. Four different sizes of steel balls (ranging from an inch and a quarter to two inches) are dropped at varying heights (12 to 20 feet). This process is meant to mimic falling hail at high speeds. In addition to the hail test, an impact-resistant shingle roof must also be able to withstand high winds up to 110 miles per hour.

If you live in an area with severe storms or if you’d like your home to be protected from a rare storm like this, impact-resistant shingles may be perfect for you. Thousands of homeowners unfortunately lose their homes to wind damage or hail storms. Impact-resistant shingles can help protect you from such a catastrophe.

13. Composition Shingles

Composition shingle roofing is a variant of asphalt shingles and can be made to mimic different types of shingle styles. They are manufactured using a blend of roofing materials (fiberglass, asphalt, and even recycled paper) to help make them more eco-friendly and durable.

Composition shingles have up to 50-year warranty and come in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and designs to suit the preferences of your home and unique roof. They are lightweight and aren’t easily damaged. They don’t split, peel, warp, or crack when exposed to weather elements and can be made out of lots of recyclable materials like plastics, tires, or wood shavings.

14. Solar Panels

If you’re looking through the different types of roof shingles for something that can help you go off-grid, then check out solar panel shingles. Solar shingles are a modern design that is essentially made up of solar panels designed to function and appear like conventional roofing material. They do this all while generating electricity for your home.

If you want your roof to retain the appearance and aesthetics of a traditional roof but want to gain the energy advantage of solar panels, then solar shingles may be the perfect option for you. They can help make your home eco-friendly and budget-friendly, helping you save on your energy bills in the long run.

A downside to solar panel shingles is the installation cost, and it can be difficult to find a professional skilled in that particular roofing installation.

15. Copper Shingles

Copper roofing is one of the most durable, long-lasting roofing types you can find on the market today, right alongside clay, concrete, and slate tiles. That being said, it can be an expensive roofing type since the material itself is so valuable.

While copper roofs are usually installed as panels, they can be installed as shingles. A copper roof will increase the value of your home and may even give you lower insurance rates due to its fire resistance. It’s also naturally resistant to mold and algae growth.

A con to copper roofing is that it can be loud. It doesn’t do a great job at soundproofing rain or winds, so storms can get pretty noisy.

16. Rubber Roof Shingles

Rubber roof shingles are typically up to 95 percent recycled materials. They can be made of recycled rubber, plastic, and slate dust—or old shingles. Rubber roof shingles can be melted down and recycled into a fully new product after being used on your home as a roof.

Since they’re mostly rubber, this shingle type is resistant to mold and mildew growth, is fairly durable and weather-resistant, and you’ll be surprised at how little maintenance is required to obtain a long lifespan. On the downside, they can have an unpleasant smell—especially when freshly installed—and they aren’t on the cheap side of roofing material types.

Which Type of Shingle is Right For Your Roof?

Long Roofing has many different types of roof shingles to choose from, including  3-tab, dimensional, and standing seam metal roofs. Our expert team can not only help you in your installation project, but we can help you narrow down the types of shingles that will work well for your particular roof. Contact our team today to schedule your appointment.

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