May 6, 2019

Asphalt Shingles: Everything You Need to Know

Considering a roofing project? Learn everything you need to know about asphalt shingles with Roofr!

Time to read:
6 Minutes
Written by
Nicholas Capobianco

Asphalt shingles are, by far, the most popular shingles in the U.S. and Canada. They’re cost-effective, relatively durable, and come in a wide variety of styles and colors.

With new advances in style and energy efficient technology, homeowners can increase their curb appeal while they decrease their utility bills. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about asphalt shingles—just in time for roofing season!

a asphalt architectural shingles c

How asphalt shingles are made

It’s hard for some people to think of roofing systems with any real sense of excitement. But, the way that different types of roofing shingles are made can actually be fascinating, and important for anyone who’s considering roof repair or replacement.

Prior to the 1980s, asphalt shingles were primarily manufactured with an organic-based mat. This consists of cellulose, recycled paper products, and asphalt coated ceramic granules. Organic shingles are made by layering felt paper, cellulose, and other materials that are then coated with a layer of asphalt to create a waterproof barrier.

Once this is complete, the shingles are surfaced using adhesive asphalt containing mineral granules. After the shingles are cooled and dried, they can be inspected, packaged, and sent to consumers. While organic shingles are still used today, they’ve largely been replaced with more popular fiberglass models.

Organic shingles are heavy, harder to install, carry an inferior fire rating, and use more asphalt than their fiberglass counterparts. Fiberglass shingles use layers of wet fiberglass sealed with urea-formaldehyde resin to create the base. Then they undergo the mineral coating, and the rest of the process is relatively similar to the manufacturing of organic shingles. The use of fiberglass makes these shingles lightweight, fire-resistant, easier to install, durable, and more environmentally friendly.

Fiberglass shingles are the primary go-to for the roofing industry and provide a low-cost high-quality solution for homeowners.

Choosing the right asphalt shingle type

There are two primary types of asphalt shingles used today. The 3-tab shingle and the architectural shingle. Both are made using the same materials, but the overall style and installation are very different.

3-tab shingles are cheaper, thinner, and have a flat uniformed look after they’re applied. They are a favorite of people on a budget, or who need to find a quick fix for outbuildings. However, 3-tab shingles have a shorter life than architectural shingles, and will need to be replaced in about 20-25 years. They have an average wind rating of 50 mph/80kmh.

Architectural shingles, or dimensional shingles, give the roof a more traditional and textured look. The shingles themselves are thicker and installed in a way that gives the finished product the appearance of being layered. They cost slightly more than the 3-tab shingles but last up to twice as long.

a asphalt shingles in a valley

The different styles available

This is where it starts to get fun for many homeowners.

Asphalt shingles don’t have to look like asphalt shingles anymore! Many companies manufacture shingles that mimic slate, wood shakes, and even period styles. Technology has made it possible to customize your shingles to really fit your home’s personality.

You’re not stuck with black, gray, or grayer color variations anymore either.  There are thousands of unique color combinations to choose from, and plenty of programs to help you decide.

It’s also important to take energy efficiency into consideration. Look for Energy Star rated asphalt shingles that can reflect the sunlight, helping to reduce the heat exchange within your home. The more extreme your climate, the more energy efficiency matters.

a asphalt multicolored shingles b

Popular brands

There are hundreds of brands of asphalt shingles out there. But there are two leading names in the industry that have established themselves as the top manufacturers of asphalt shingles in the U.S.


GAF is an industry favorite because of more than just its wide range of asphalt shingles. The company has developed an entire complementary system of roofing materials that all work together to produce a superior product. They also provide training and certifications for roofing professionals that have become a mark of quality.

The advantages of GAF shingles include:

  • lifetime warranties,
  • durable products,
  • resistant to wind and impact,
  • options that fit into nearly every budget,
  • a reputation as North America’s best-selling shingles,
  • wind rating at 210 kmh/130 mph, and
  • The Timberline line of shingles which is known as the most recognizable shingle in the market.

There aren’t many significant disadvantages, which is why this company remains so popular—in fact, they are the top seller in North America. The only complaints originated with some earlier issues GAF had honoring their warranties, something that has happened across almost every major shingle manufacturer. Most of the bugs have been worked out, and customers and contractors can feel confident doing business with the company.


Many argue that CertainTeed is the best manufacturer of fiberglass asphalt shingles in the U.S. The company has won several awards and is known for its high-end roofing products.

The advantages of CertainTeed asphalt shingles include:

  • an increased number of material layers protecting the roof,
  • wind and impact resistance,
  • A wind rating of 210 kmh/130 mph
  • superior materials, and
  • options that appeal to even the pickiest homeowners.

These shingles can be approximately 3lbs per bundle heavier, and the weight increases as you move up in quality: Landmark, Landmark Pro, Landmark Premium. They are very well known for their superior sealant strength.

Both of these brands create quality shingles, and deciding between them is really a matter of budget and style preferences.

a asphaslt shingles being installed d

How much do asphalt shingles cost?

The average cost of asphalt shingle falls somewhere between $22 and $25 per bundle, which covers 32 square feet. Prices vary based on style, color, and manufacturer. It’s always a good idea to talk to your contractor or a roofing professional about their recommendations before making your final decision.

If you’ve never had to purchase roofing materials, then you may not be aware of how many different types of shingles there actually are. Once you dive in, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make a hasty decision. Don’t. Slow down, do your homework, and reach out to the experts at Roofr for help.

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