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3 Main Types of 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.

What are 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.

Types of Asphalt Shingles

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

There are three primary types of asphalt shingles used for the roof on a house: 3-tab shingles, dimensional shingles, and luxury shingles.

  1. 3-tab shingles — also referred to as three-tab shingles.
  2. Dimensional shingles — sometimes called architectural or laminate shingles.
  3. Luxury shingles — occasionally called premium shingles.

While all three kinds of asphalt shingles are made of similar materials, they are not exactly the same. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which asphalt roofing shingles will meet your needs for years to come.

1. 3-Tab Shingles

Example of a strip asphalt shingle

What’s there to love about a 3-tab shingle? 3-tab shingles are affordable and can last a couple decades in the right conditions.
What’s the problem with 3-tab shingles? Fewer aesthetic options, potential blow-off issues and a shorter lifespan.

Example of a home with strip asphalt shingles

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.

2. Dimensional Shingles

Example of architectural asphalt 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’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

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.

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.

Talk to the Asphalt Roofing Experts

If you’re interested in exploring different types of asphalt shingles, reach out to Long Roofing for expert advice on your roofing project. Whether you’re looking for a roofing estimate or have questions about the best asphalt shingle for you, we’re here to help. Contact us online or give our knowledgeable team a call at (800) 417-5664.

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