Rooftop shingles are your home’s first line of defense against the elements. They work together like a protective puzzle, each shingle fitting on top of the next to make a seamless overhead barrier.
Though most shingle roofs are built to last for decades, anything from storm damage to old age can cause them to break. With plenty of options when it comes to material, style and durability, it can be daunting to renovate or completely replace your roof. Here are some tips for picking the right type of shingles for you and your home.
Before shingle roofs became the norm in North America, most homes were built with whatever material was most abundant in the area, like wood, slate and stone. These single-material roofs were prone to rotting and erosion, but as shingles rose in popularity, composite materials were designed to be more durable at a cheaper cost. The industry standard today is asphalt fiberglass, which easily wicks away rain, snow and ice and can last for decades.
Most major shingle manufacturers offer comprehensive warranties on their products. They’ll likely ensure a lifetime guarantee, but the meaning of “lifetime” can vary from warranty to warranty, ranging anywhere from 10 to 50 years or beyond. You’ll also want to consider the weather where you live and choose an option that can withstand the worst. For an additional cost, most manufacturers offer extended warranties that protect your roof from stains, accidents and excessive wind and sun damage, just in case.
The beauty of asphalt shingles is their versatility—they can be molded into different sizes and shapes to mimic other materials. The most affordable type of shingle is the 3-tab asphalt shingle, which offers basic protection and some simple color customization. Architectural shingles, on the other hand, allow you to pick from many different styles and colors. Choose a modern weave with shingles that overlap in even rows or go with an antique layering style that resembles slate or clay. A general rule of thumb: the more you’re willing to pay, the more choices you’ll have.
The shingle roofing market is dominated by three major companies: Certainteed, Owens Corning and GAF. With so many materials and products between them, it can be difficult to understand what sets these brands apart, but the key is in the details. For instance, Certainteed’s Landmark line uses a protective laminate that resembles cedar wood. Owens Corning has a designer line of shingles with plenty of color options, like merlot and aged copper. And GAF’s Timberline shingles mimic traditional wood shakes, which they boast as “North America’s #1 Selling Shingle.” Each product is unique—familiarize yourself with all of the options to decide which is best for you.
Your roof is one of the most essential and visible parts of your home. With durable shingles that reflect your style, you can be confident that your family and home will stay protected for decades.