Shingle Shopping? What Are the Choices?

More than three decades ago, homeowners were basically limited to 3 choices of roofing shingles: asphalt, wood, or ceramic tile. Now, just like there are many different types of roof styles, there are also many types of roof shingles. The type of shingle you choose is most important when striving to waterproof and protect the integrity of your home.

Shingles made from asphalt are usually the most popular and affordable. Examples include fiberglass, organic, 3-tab, and laminate.

  • Fiberglass – composed of a woven fiberglass mat, a layer of waterproof asphalt coating, and a top layer of ceramic granules.
  • Organic – made from recycled layers of felt paper saturated in asphalt and subsequently coated with adhesive asphalt, along with embedded ceramic granules.
  • 3-tab (also known as “strip”) – made of a single layer of material and have two cut-outs on the exposed surface.
  • Laminate (also known as “architectural”) – contain a second set of shingles on top of the first set to create the 3D look.

Some other shingle choices: tile, wood, wood shakes, metal, slate, synthetic slate, and solar roof.

  • Tile – among the most aesthetic, expensive, and enduring (lasting roughly 80 years). Can be molded into several shapes and are often made in lighter colors to keep homes cooler.
  • Wood – more environmentally friendly, durable, and energy-efficient. Wood is sawn to form a smooth, tapered profile. Types include cedar and redwood.
  • Wood shakes (not to be confused with “wood shingles”) – differ from wood shingles in that they have a more rustic, textured appearance. Wood shakes are split to form a textured grain appearance.
  • Metal – can be made from low galvanized metal, copper, tin, zinc, and aluminum. Good for flat or steep roof lines.
  • Slate – composed of stone pulled from the earth. Creates a roof that is 100% natural and includes beautiful color variations because of the stone’s surface.
  • Synthetic slate – made from combinations of plastic and rubber, which make them more durable than authentic slate.
  • Solar – thin film photovoltaic (PV) cells designed to look like traditional shingles. They transform the sun’s energy into electricity that can be used to power your home.