Many homeowners don’t give roofing shingles much thought. However, when it comes time to replace or repair a roof, they’ll quickly realize how many types of roof shingles there are. Despite appearing like a simple building material, there are different styles, compositions, colors, and much more. But, aside from roof contractors, most folks don’t know the difference.
This guide aims to remedy the lack of awareness some homeowners have for their roof systems.
What Are Roof Shingles?
At their simplest, roof shingles are a category of building materials that protects a home’s roof from the elements. These systems consist of individual overlapping tabs or shingles, and they provide a surface for water and snow to run off of, as well as a barrier from the sun and wind. This layer of materials lays on top of the roof sheathing and framing.
Roofing shingles are incredibly important for keeping a home safe for long periods of time. Since the individual rows (also known as courses) overlap each other, water runs down one shingle, onto the next, and so on until it ends up running off the eave and into a gutter. This keeps the plywood sheathing from getting wet and rotting, which in turn prevents the framing lumber. Shingled roofs also protect the home’s structure against impacts, the sun’s damaging rays, and even wind. This keeps the home safer and more comfortable, and also prolongs the life of the home.
As such an important building layer, there are several types of roofing shingles, including variations in material and styles. Knowing which type to choose requires a bit of research into the different types of roof shingles.
8 Types of Roof Shingles
Roof shingles come in many varieties, and each variety has its pros and cons. The following are some of the most common types of roof shingles that a homeowner might have to choose from.
1. Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles
Three-tab shingles are made of asphalt, and, as the name suggests, feature three tabs per shingle. Each of the tabs are equal in size, giving roofs covered in this material a clean, flat, symmetrical look.
Three-tab shingles are one of the most affordable roofing materials to choose from, and they’re also light and relatively easy to install. However, since these shingles have such a symmetrical flare, they are limited to fewer architectural details.
2. Architectural Asphalt Shingles
Architectural shingles (also known as dimensional shingles) are also made of asphalt, but they feature more irregular designs for architectural interest. These shingles feature multiple layers of laminated shingles, giving them a thicker, tougher design than three-tab shingles. They’re available in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses, as well.
Architectural shingles are a bit more expensive than three-tab, but not so much that they’re unaffordable. In fact, in areas prone to wind or hail, these thicker, more durable shingles resist the elements well and can last around 20 years, possibly saving homeowners money over a three-tab roof.
3. Metal Shingles
Metal roofs are a favorite among homeowners who don’t want to worry about too much maintenance. These shingles come in a few varieties of their own, including standing seam or overlapping courses of metal shingles.
Metal roofs are resistant to rain, snow, wind, fire, and a number of other elements. They can even be coated with a rubberized material to extend the life of the roof. However, these roofs can dent in hail storms, and those dents can lead to rust (depending on the type of metal the roof is made of). If taken care of, they can last more than 50 years.
4. Slate Tile Shingles
When it comes to classic good looks, it’s hard to beat the charm of a home with slate tiles. These shingles are made from actual stone, and roofers install them one tile at a time.
Slate shingles give a home a rustic touch. The material itself is extremely durable, lasting up to 100 years if installed correctly. However, these tiles are expensive and very heavy, often requiring the homeowner to boost their roof’s internal structure to carry the load. It’s also hard to find qualified installers to lay a slate roof on a home.
5. Clay and Concrete Shingles
For some homes, particularly in warm climates, clay and concrete shingles are the way to go as they are heat resistant. Manufacturers mold these heavy, durable tiles into series of half-cylinder-shaped shingles, giving these roofs a texture and look like no other. These tiles are non-combustible and offer solar reflective properties for improved energy efficiency over other shingle types.
Concrete and clay tiles are more expensive than asphalt shingles, and they’re also very heavy. Because they’re so hefty, many homes’ internal framing might not be strong enough to handle the weight. These tiles generally require professional installation. However, any cracks that do occur are usually homeowner-friendly repairs, as they simply require a bit of roofing cement and paint.
6. Wood Shingles
There might not be a more rustic and charming roofing material than wood shingles. Manufacturers cut these shingles from cedar, redwood, spruce, and other rot-resistant species. They come in both even, set widths and varying widths, allowing homeowners to choose their preferred look.