The best architectural shingles: a comprehensive guide

Image source: CertainTeed

Chris Gennone

By Chris Gennone

November 9, 2021

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Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material today. Due to their popularity, asphalt shingles have evolved to include several variations of shingles. Architectural shingles offer the same textural, sophisticated design as luxury shingles at half the cost. Although they’re more expensive than 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles have a laminated bonding, which helps them last longer and saves you money in the long run.

Let’s take a look at what makes architectural shingles a solid option for your home.

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What are architectural shingles?

Architectural shingles on a residential home

Image source: JLC

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional shingles or laminated shingles, feature a fiberglass mat, ceramic-coated granules, and a textured design to give them the appearance of more expensive materials such as cedar shake and tile.

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Architectural shingles typically feature two or more shingles that are laminated and bonded together. They may look the same as other types of asphalt shingles, but architectural shingles are thicker and heavier than 3-tab shingles.

Top architectural shingle brands

CertainTeed

CertainTeed is one of the most trusted names in asphalt roofing shingles. Last year, CertainTeed’s Landmark dimensional shingles were named the best available by Consumer Reports. While CertainTeed shingles typically cost a bit more than others, they tend to be more durable and one of the most popular brands.

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Any of CertainTeed’s three types of Landmark dimensional shingles, which are fire-resistant, can withstand winds up to 110 MPH, and can last between 30-50 years. Prices for Landmark shingles range from $90-$150 per square.

GAF

Unlike many shingle brands which have to be purchased from building supply stores, GAF shingles are more readily available at big chain stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. As the largest roofing manufacturer in the world, GAF’s Timberline series is the company’s best-selling type of shingles.

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Any of GAF’s Timberline shingles, but particularly the Timberline HDZ shingle. These shingles feature a wood-shake appearance with a Dura Grip sealant and a StrikeZone nailing area, which ensures a durable bond and a 99.9% nailing accuracy. The Timberline HDZ shingles also have no wind speed limits, making them an excellent choice for homeowners in more volatile climates. Prices for any of GAF’s Timberline shingles range from $110-$250 per square.

Atlas

Atlas offers competitive prices and strong warranties for algae and wind damage. Currently, Atlas has five types of architectural shingles, but its Pinnacle Pristine shingles were named the top shingle available by Consumer Reports.

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The StormMaster Shake shingles are a great choice for homeowners in volatile climates. The StormMaster Shake shingles feature enhanced polymer technology which helps them remain impact and wind resistant and prevents them from cracking in cold temperatures. For $81 per square, you really can’t go wrong with Atlas’s Pinnacle Pristine shingles. These types of shingles come with a lifetime warranty and an algae-resistant Scotchgard protector.

TAMKO

Although they may not be as well-known as CertainTeed or GAF, TAMKO’s Heritage shingle is considered one of the best available. TAMKO also features a large variety of colors and competitive pricing for homeowners on a tight budget.

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TAMKO offers seven types of architectural shingles, but we recommend any of its signature Heritage series. Heritage shingles feature a layer of asphalt and mineral granules which are laminated together and are designed to look like wood shakes. Though TAMKO’s Titan XT shingles fare better in more severe weather, any type of Heritage shingles can withstand extreme conditions and cost $90 per square.

Owens Corning

Owens Corning is one of the most popular brands available today, with its Oakridge architectural shingles ranked as one of the top shingles available. However, Owens Corning’s flagship roofing product is its Duration shingles. Duration shingles feature a similar wood shake appearance and deeper granule colors, part of Owens Corning’s TruDefinition color platform. Owens Corning features six different sub-lines of its Duration series, and each comes with its own perks such as style, energy efficiency, and impact resistance.

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Duration and Oakridge shingles are both solid options for your home. They both offer similar performance with lifetime limited warranties and the ability to withstand high winds up to 130 MPH. Oakridge shingles usually cost around $90 per square, while the Duration shingles cost around $100 per square.

IKO

While IKO may not be as popular as GAF or Owens Corning, they are still one of the top manufacturers of asphalt shingles and residential roofing products. IKO’s architectural shingles include their Cambridge line and the environmentally friendly Cambridge Cool Colors, designed to lower your roof’s temperature and reduce energy costs.

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Either IKO’s Cambridge shingles or Cambridge Cool Colors are solid choices. Cambridge shingles are larger which makes them easier to install, and Cambridge Cool Colors are a great option if you live in a warmer climate like California.

Architectural shingles vs. 3-tab shingles

Architectural shingles 3-tab shingles

Architectural shingles vs. 3-tab shingles. Image source: Home Depot & Menards

Architectural shingles

In addition to being more expensive and heavier, architectural roofing shingles offer a more dimensional look than 3-tab shingles. Thanks to its stronger laminated bonding and granules on top, architectural shingles typically last longer and have a longer lifespan, up to 50 years.

3-tab shingles

3-tab shingles are a more cost-effective option but don’t offer the same level of textural detail and durability as architectural shingles do. 3-tab shingles are lighter and designed to offer a uniform, tile-like appearance. Traditional 3-tab shingles typically last between 15-20 years, you’ll need to replace them sooner, which could cost you more. If you’re on a tight budget, 3-tab shingles are a good option, but you may save more money in the long run with architectural shingles.

Pros and cons of architectural shingles

Architectural shingles on a residential home

Image source: Asphalt Life

Pros of architectural shingles

Durable - Architectural shingles are heavier than other types of shingles. They feature two laminated strips, forming a thicker, more durable texture. Architectural shingles are typically able to withstand winds up to 100 MPH or more.

Long-lasting - Though asphalt shingles may not last as long as metal roofing, architectural shingles can last up to 50 years, while 3-tab shingles usually last up to 20 years on average.

Aesthetically pleasing - Along with luxury designer shingles, architectural shingles are designed to mimic the sophistication of expensive materials like slate and wood shakes.

Cons of architectural shingles

More expensive - The biggest downside is that architectural shingles cost almost double than 3-tab shingles.

Not environmentally friendly - Though most asphalt shingles are not environmentally friendly, architectural shingles are worse than others because of the extra non-recyclable materials.

Why buy architectural shingles?

Architectural shingles are a solid choice for your home if you want a sophisticated design for your roof at a fraction of what more expensive materials would cost for high-end homes. 3-tab shingles are the cheaper option, they don’t last as long or offer the same type of appearance. Installing a new roof can boost your home’s curb appeal, and choosing architectural shingles is a great way to maximize its value.

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