As a roofing company that specializes in asphalt roofing, it’s important that we know everything about it.
Which shingles are the cheapest? Which shingles will last the longest? Which manufacturer has the best warranty? And which ones are the most popular?
All of these are questions we get all the time, and questions we are going to help answer!
In this blog, we’re going to go over:
Let’s get started!
Types of Asphalt Shingles
Before we get into the weeds talking about the best asphalt shingles, we should make sure that we all have the same understanding of what asphalt shingles are, and what the different categories of them are. Once you know what these shingles are, you’ll have a much better understanding of what you have on your roof, and about how long that material will last you.
Essentially, an asphalt shingle is constructed of a fiberglass mat, that is then covered in asphalt, and a layer of protective granules. There are also three main different categories of asphalt shingles, which is important to know when breaking down the ones available on the market. Those three categories are Three-tab, architectural, and luxury! Architectural may also be known as dimensional shingles, and some luxury shingles are also called “designer shingles” so don’t get confused when you see other roofing companies refer to those kinds of shingles.
A three-tab shingle is the least expensive asphalt shingle, and roofing material overall. They are a pretty thin strip of asphalt, with three, blocky tabs hanging from the strip. They tend to have a pretty uniform look when on roofs as well, with the only real variation being the color.
Three-tab shingles were the most commonly used shingle for a long time, in large part because of their low price. Currently, you can get three-tab shingles for around $90 per square, which is why even today three-tabs are popular amongst builders working on very large construction projects.
However, three-tab shingles are also the asphalt shingle with the lowest overall lifespan, typically lasting 15-20 years or so. They also have a tendency to start suffering some damage as you approach that lifespan, especially from wind and hail. Because of the gaps between the tabs, hail and wind can get up underneath fairly easily, breaking them off and exposing your roof to some leak issues.
Architectural shingles are the next step up from three-tabs, and they have largely replaced three-tabs as the roofer’s choice over the last few decades. These shingles add an extra ply of shingle to their design, which covers up the gaps that three-tabs had, adding more weight for durability, and a more textured appearance. Most architectural shingles have a similar look and design to them, but they do come in a wide variety of colors for homeowners who wish to have a color that matches the rest of their house, or stand out from their neighbors, while keeping a traditional look.
Architectural shingles used to be much more expensive to produce, and install but as they’ve grown more popular, manufacturers have been able to reduce their prices, so instead of falling directly on the middle of the roofing shingle price scale, architectural shingles are now on the lower end, at around $105 per roofing square.
That increase in price though, comes with about an extra decade of protection, as architectural shingles tend to last 25-30 years, and aren’t as susceptible to wind damage as a result of their two-ply construction. All of that is why architectural shingles have become the most widely used roofing material in the country over the last few decades.
Luxury shingles, also known as designer shingles, are the highest end asphalt shingles. They truly are what their name describes, a luxury, designer product. They are a three-ply shingle, which allows manufacturers to get creative with their designs, simulating the look of slate, ceramic, and even wood shake roofs.
That third ply also adds some extra weight, which increases their resistance to wind and hail damage (and makes them much more difficult to install). They don’t necessarily have much longer of a lifespan than architectural shingles, however, as they tend to max out at around 30 years of age, maybe getting a little more in really great conditions.
As for the price, you’re certainly going to be spending a pretty penny, as these shingles will run you around $180 per square, a significant jump up from architectural shingles. That being said, often the homeowners considering these shingles are comparing them to the kinds of roofs they are designed to look like, which are going to be MUCH more expensive, and complicated to install.
Asphalt Shingle Brands
Alright, now that we’re all on the same page as to what asphalt shingles are, and what varieties are out there, let’s break down the major asphalt shingle manufacturers, and what their best performing lines are! In alphabetical order, here are the biggest roofing manufacturers in the country!
The Atlas Roofing Corporation was founded in 1982, and with their headquarters in Meridian, Mississippi, they have become one of the biggest roofing manufacturers in North America. Atlas offers a few different lines of shingles, including their GlassMaster and ProLam three-tabs, Castlebrook & Pinnacle Pristine architectural shingles, and their Legend and StormMaster luxury shingle lines.
Atlas’s GlassMaster line is their least expensive shingle, the best performing shingle is the StormMaster line, while their most popular shingle is the Pinnacle Pristine architectural line. The company offers a wide range of colors, and textures for their shingles as well, with architectural shingles that offer a slate look, as well as the more common wood shake look.
The second oldest company on this list, CertainTeed was founded in 1904, and currently has its headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. Now a subsidiary of global manufacturing company Saint-Gobain, CertainTeed has continued to produce high quality asphalt roofing materials, and prides itself on the steps it’s taken to become a producer of sustainable roofing and building products.
CertainTeed offers the full range of asphalt shingles, with their three-tab XT 25, and then their Landmark architectural lines, before reaching up to their Grand Manor, Carriage House, Presidential Shake, and Belmont luxury lines. Those Landmark architectural shingles are the company’s most popular line, while the Presidential Shake has the longest lifespan, and the three-tab XT 25 comes in as the cheapest available.
GAF’s long history dates back to 1886, and operating from its Parsippany New Jersey headquarters, GAF is the biggest name on the roofing market, and one of the dominant drivers of the industry. GAF’s shingle prices start with their Royal Sovereign & Marquis WeatherMax three-tab lines, then moving up to their Timberline architectural line, before capping off with their Slateline, Camelot, Grand Sequoia, and Woodland Luxury lines.
GAF’s most popular shingle is by far the Timberline HDZ, which, according to GAF, is the best-selling asphalt shingle in North America. Their cheapest available is the Royal Sovereign line, and their longest lasting shingle comes down to either the new for 2023 Timberline UHDZ, an upgraded version of the HDZ, or one of the luxury lines, depending on the conditions you live in.
IKO, the only Canadian company on our list, was founded in 1951, with its headquarters in Brampton, Ontario.
IKO offers the Marathon Plus AR three-tab line, the Cambridge architectural shingles, the Dynasty and Nordic architectural performance lines, and the Crowne Slate, Armourshake, and Royal Estate luxury shingles.
The best performing shingle that IKO offers is their Nordic architectural, while the most popular ends up being their Cambridge architectural, and their least expensive offering is that three-tab, Marathon Plus AR line. IKO is known for being a lower-priced alternative to the other roofing manufacturers. Though their quality has suffered in the past, they have made big strides in recent years.
Malarkey Roofing Products is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and has been manufacturing shingles since 1956. The company is primarily centered on the west coast and southwestern U.S., with production facilities in Oregon, California, and Oklahoma. As a result, they are not always distributed across the entire country, and aren't sold here in our area of North Carolina.
That being said, they are still one of the biggest companies out there, and make a pretty dang good shingle, so they're worth talking about. Malarkey prides themselves on their sustainability practices, using old tires and plastic bags in the manufacturing of their rubberized asphalt shingles.
Malarkey has three different lines of architectural shingles, including their best selling Vista AR shingle line. The company says that their Windsor Designer shingle is their best performing of their product lineup, while the most economical shingle they offer is the Dura-Seal AR, a three tab shingle that carries algae-resistant granules.
Owens Corning has been around in Toledo, Ohio since 1938, but was originally founded to manufacture fiberglass insulation. The company became associated with the iconic Pink Panther through the promotion of their pink insulation, but he has stayed on through the years and began to be used for their roofing products as well.
The company offers the Supreme three-tab line, the Oakridge and Duration architectural shingles, and the Berkshire Slate luxury shingle design. Their best performing shingle is the Duration FLEX shingle, the cheapest shingle that Owens Corning offers is the Supreme three-tab shingle, and their most popular line is the standard Duration architectural line.
Founded in 1944, TAMKO is headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, and produces three-tab and architectural shingles, but does not have a luxury shingle line. Their best performing shingle is their Titan XT architectural line, while their most popular is their Heritage architectural, and the cheapest is their Elite Glass-Seal three-tab shingle.
Most Affordable Asphalt ShinglE
In terms of affordability, your best bet is going to be going for a three-tab shingle, regardless of the manufacturer. Though it's difficult to find readily available pricing information on all of the shingles, the cheapest available at major home improvement stores like The Home Depot and Lowe’s are GAF’s Royal Sovereign, and around $33 per bundle.
Longest Lasting Asphalt Shingle
Again, it’s difficult to find readily available information, as this test would take around 30 years to do, and results would vary wildly depending on conditions, but we tend to see the most life come from the higher end architectural shingles, like CertainTeed Landmark Premium, and GAF Timberline AS II.
What Shingles do we use?
In our market of Raleigh, North Carolina, we’ve seen that GAF’s claim of being the most popular seems to be the case. For most of our roof replacements these days, homeowners are choosing to go for the GAF Timberline HDZ architectural shingle, for its value, durability, and color options available. The next shingle we see used the most is CertainTeed Landmark Pro architectural shingle, which is also a great option for durability for value.
On Tops Roofing has been serving the Triangle and eastern North Carolina since 1991. We have replaced over 15,000 roofs, so whatever your project requires, We're on it!