Architectural vs Other Shingles: Know Your Options Before You Buy

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When it is time for a roof replacement, an NJ homeowner often looks at the advantages and disadvantages of architectural vs other shingles. Since a new roof can last for decades, the decision is an important one. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of shingles that you may consider.

What Exactly are Architectural Shingles?Architectural vs other shingles

When NJ homeowners are researching their roofing options, they often encounter terms that they are not very familiar with. Everyone knows what roof shingles are, but what about more specific terms like 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles, laminated shingles and compositional shingles? Asphalt is the primary raw material in all these roofing products. It is a cost-effective option that is tough, flexible and waterproof. The terms “architectural,” “laminated” and “compositional” all refer to the same type of asphalt shingle. Such shingles feature a tough fiberglass mat sandwiched between two asphalt layers. Mineral granules are embedded in the top layer to better protect the shingle from strong impacts (from large hail, for example) and ultraviolet rays.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Shingles

Today’s leading roofing manufacturers typically offer two different kinds of shingles: 3-tab and architectural.

3-tab shingles

Traditional 3-tab shingles feature a fiberglass mat embedded in asphalt and covered by mineral granules. They get their name from the three “tabs” at the top of the shingle that is usually separated by quarter-inch grooves. Although the 3-tab shingles themselves sometimes cost slightly less than the more popular architectural shingles, labor costs narrow the cost gap because they are trickier to install. They are more difficult to align, and they are somewhat flimsy. Since modern 3-tab shingles are thinner than architectural shingles, they are often less impact-resistant and less durable. This is reflected in the shorter warranty you’ll usually get. For example, although GAF’s Golden Pledge warranty includes 100-percent coverage on architectural shingles for 50 years, while it offers the same coverage on 3-tab shingles for only 20 years.

Architectural shingles

Today, the majority of NJ roof replacements are completed with architectural shingles, and for good reason. They are very durable, even when subjected to the extremes of New Jersey summers and winters. When you consider that a roof’s surface temperature can approach 170 degrees F on a hot day, you can easily understand why durability is so important. When these thicker shingles come with heavy-duty nail strips and high-quality adhesives, they are exceptionally wind-resistant. For example, shingles with Owens Corning’s SureNail technology come with high wind ratings. GAF also offers premium architectural shingles with high wind ratings.

Organic shingles

Organic shingles feature a mat composed of cellulose rather than fiberglass. Major manufacturers stopped making this type of shingle more than a decade ago. The big disadvantage of organic shingles is that the cellulose mat can absorb water as the asphalt breaks down. Sometimes, defective organic shingles get very distorted. When this happens, both wind and water can easily get under them.

Reasons to Choose Architectural Shingles

There are important reasons for the growing popularity of modern architectural shingles, including key considerations like lower lifecycle cost and energy-efficiency.

Wind resistance

Premium architectural shingles often feature 130 mph wind ratings, while 3-tab shingles usually come with only a 60 mph wind rating. Although a 60 mph rating may be enough in thunderstorms and snowstorms, it is certainly a source of concern when hurricanes and the worst nor’easters strike. Consider what FEMA says about the impact of high winds on shingles.

Architectural vs other shingles

*Photo courtesy of Owens Corning

Some architectural shingles now come with special highly reflective granules that reduce roof temperatures by reflecting more UV rays back into the atmosphere. This can reduce demands on a cooling system during hot weather. Reduced temperatures may also increase the service life of shingles and underlayment. For added energy efficiency, consider shingles like Duration Premium Cool from Owens Corning and Timberline Cool Series from GAF.

Damage resistance

In general, thicker architectural shingles are more resistant than 3-tab shingles to the impact of objects like falling branches and large hail. Good impact resistance can also reduce the chance of damage to the underlayment. Check out the graphs that show how architectural shingles are typically more impact-resistant than the 3-tab variety.

Lifecycle cost

When you consider the significantly longer lifespan of an architectural shingle roof, its cost per year is often less than that of a 3-tab roof. Reduced maintenance costs can also make architectural shingles a better value.

When to Use 3-Tab Shingles

Given the numerous advantages of architectural shingles, why would an NJ homeowner choose traditional 3-tab shingles? They are mainly useful for repairing an existing 3-tab shingle roof. Repairs to such a roof must be completed with 3-tab shingles because thicker architectural shingles are usually not compatible. Also, there may be an extreme case where the load-bearing capacity of an older roof design is a big enough worry that the thinner, lighter 3-tab product is the only real option.

Consult With a Certified Contractor

Whenever you make a major decision about your home, it is helpful to get an expert opinion. Therefore, when you are making important decisions about architectural vs other shingles, it’s ideal to get guidance from a factory-certified roofing contractor. “Factory-certified” means that a roofing manufacturer has established that the contractor is qualified to install its products to spec. That confidence is expressed in the higher-quality manufacturer warranties typically offered through a certified contractor. A recommendation from a factory-certified contractor comes with the expert knowledge accumulated through years of assessing the unique needs of different New Jersey roofs.

Contact Us for Prompt Assistance

For more than 40 years, CRS has provided NJ homeowners with all the roofing services they require, from periodic inspections and routine maintenance to emergency repairs and complete roof replacements. When you are looking at architectural vs other shingles, count on the pros at CRS to help you assess your options. We know that a residential roof is an investment that northern NJ homeowners want to make with full access to all the facts. We’d welcome the opportunity to share our roofing expertise with you. Please contact us.

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