types of roof shingles
Posted on: August 12, 2022

It always seems like there are a million options when it’s time to make updates to your home. There are dozens of flooring materials, different sink faucet styles, and too many paint colors to count. When it’s time to replace your roof, you may also feel overwhelmed with all the different roof material options.

Asphalt shingles are the most popular type of roofing material, but what about all the other types of roof shingles? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of eight types of shingles:

  • 3-Tab
  • Metal
  • Composite
  • Architectural
  • Luxury
  • Solar
  • Wood
  • Rubber

1) 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles

Standard 3-tab asphalt shingles are one of the most common types of roofing shingles, and they’re also the most affordable kind of asphalt shingle. They offer decent durability (typically last 15 to 25 years), so many homeowners find them to be a good investment due to their low price.

Since this material is in high demand, they are frequently produced and easy to access. 3-tab shingles are easy to install, but they’re thinner than other shingle types, which causes them to wear out more quickly than other materials.

types of roof shingles - gray 3-tab asphalt shingles

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Easily accessible
  • Lightweight
  • Class-A fire rating

🚫 Cons

  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as other materials
  • More potential to blow off in strong winds
  • Shorter lifespan
  • Are rarely recycled

2) Metal Shingles

Metal shingles are coming in hot as a rising roofing material for home and business owners alike. Modern metal shingles are both incredibly stylish and durable. They’re also quite lightweight, making them an ideal option for many properties.

You’ll pay a little more for metal shingles, but they have an impressive lifespan (40 to 80 years!). They’re still pretty affordable compared to other roofing materials with long lifespans like clay or slate tiles.

You can get metal roofing in the style of shingles, but you can also get it as standing seam panels if you like that aesthetic look better. Metal shingles can be made from many different kinds of metal, such as:

  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Steel
  • Zinc
  • Tin (This is rare.)

metal shingles

Pros

  • Stunning aesthetics
  • Long lifespan
  • Fire-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Commonly manufactured

🚫 Cons

  • More expensive than asphalt shingles
  • Can be a little noisier in inclement weather

3) Composite Shingles

Unfortunately, standard asphalt shingles are rarely recycled, causing them to pile up in landfills. If you care about the environment, you might be interested in pursuing a roofing material like composite shingles.

Composite shingles are made from recycled plastic materials that would otherwise be tossed into a landfill. Plus, composite shingles can be made to imitate other more expensive materials like slate tiles.

They also have a pretty impressive lifespan, as they usually last up to 50 years!

Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • Durable
  • Can imitate more expensive materials
  • Not easily damaged

🚫 Cons

  • Cost double the price of 3-tab shingles
  • Don’t last as long as the natural materials they mimic (like clay or slate)

4) Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are a shining star in the roofing world, as they are thought to be the most commonly used material. Architectural shingles (also called laminated or dimensional shingles) are a step up from standard 3-tab shingles in terms of style and durability.

Laminated shingles are made from a heavy fiberglass mat base and ceramic-coated mineral granules that are enclosed in water-resistant asphalt. They’re often called “dimensional” shingles because of the dimensional colors they’re offered in.

These shingles may last up to 30 years with the proper maintenance and care.

Pros

  • Beautiful appearance
  • Longer lifespan than 3-tab shingles
  • Can replicate natural slate

🚫 Cons

  • More expensive than 3-tab shingles
  • Lifespan isn’t as long as other non-asphalt materials

architectural shingles

5) Luxury Shingles

So, if architectural shingles are a step up from 3-tab shingles, then luxury shingles are a step up from architectural shingles. All of these shingle types are in the “asphalt shingle” category, and luxury shingles are the most premium option— usually lasting up to 30+ years.

Luxury shingles have a beautiful 3-D appearance and offer increased protection against storms because they’re twice the weight of 3-tab shingles. You may even find luxury shingles in an eye-catching hexagon shape rather than traditional rectangular shapes.

Pros

  • Beautiful 3-D appearance
  • Offered in different shapes
  • Durable
  • Holds up well to hail and other inclement weather

🚫 Cons

  • Cost 2x as much as 3-tab shingles
  • Similar to architectural shingles for a higher price

6) Solar Shingles

Solar shingles go above and beyond simply protecting your home from water damage— they also help you save money and the environment! You’ve likely heard of solar panels that you can install over top of your roof, but solar shingles are also available. Some homeowners prefer solar shingles to panels because they blend in better with your roof and offer a more aesthetically-pleasing appearance.

You don’t need to install solar shingles over your entire roof— they function optimally on the south side of roofs. East and west exposures are also possible, but they aren’t as effective.

Solar shingles generate electricity to power your home, which saves you money on your utility bills. You would also likely be eligible for federal or local clean energy tax incentives. Even though the upfront cost of solar shingles is quite hefty, many homeowners find the long-term savings to be worth it.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly solar energy
  • Tax incentives
  • Reduces energy bills
  • Easily combined with asphalt shingles
  • Last up to 25 years

🚫 Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Can be hard to find a contractor that installs them
  • Limited colors and styles
  • Your home may not be optimal for solar energy

solar shingles

7) Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are often referred to as cedar shakes, even though they are technically two different things. The only real difference is that wood shingles are sawn smooth on both sides while cedar shakes are hand-split, offering a more rustic look.

Even though cedar shakes offer a unique, rustic appearance, they can be finicky to maintain. They’re a pretty expensive material, but they don’t usually last more than 30 years.

Keep in mind that wood shingles are not fire resistant, so they should never be installed on homes in wildfire-prone regions like California. They also require frequent upkeep and maintenance; otherwise, they will develop mold and rot.

Pros

  • Unique appearance
  • Last up to 30 years

🚫 Cons

  • Require dedicated maintenance
  • Not fire-resistant
  • Prone to rot and mold
  • More expensive than asphalt shingles

wood shingles

8) Rubber Shingles

Most of these types of roof shingles are ideal for residential properties, but what about commercial buildings? Rubber flat roofs are popular for commercial properties, but rubber shingles are also available.

There are different kinds of rubber membranes that will impact the final cost, such as:

  • TPO
  • PVC
  • EPDM (most expensive)

But, in general, rubber shingles are affordable and easy to install. Rubber roofs don’t require much maintenance and can last 15 to 25 years on average.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Affordable
  • Great for commercial properties + multi-family homes

🚫 Cons

  • Aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as other shingle types
  • Rarely lasts past 25 years

Other Roof Material Options

Shingles are highly popular, and you can’t go wrong with many of the materials on this list. However, there are a few additional roof material options that you can consider if you’re due for a roof replacement.

  • Clay Tiles: These terracotta tiles are popular out West in desert-like climates. They’re aesthetically pleasing and last up to 100 years! Just be mindful that they’re very expensive and require specialty installation.
  • Concrete Tiles: Concrete tiles are similar to clay tiles, but their lifespan is closer to 50 years. They’re incredibly durable but also very heavy, so be sure your home can support the extra weight.
  • Natural Slate Tiles: Natural slate is the longest-lasting and most expensive roofing material available. A natural slate roof can last between 100 and 200 years, so this material has been appropriately nicknamed the “forever roof.”

Expert Shingle Installation at Your Fingertips

We hope this shingle guide helped you narrow down the shingle type you’re most interested in for your upcoming roof replacement or installation. A professional roofing contractor like WISA can help you decide on the perfect material for your home based on your budget and needs.

If you live in the Northern Virginia or Washington DC area, reach out to our team today for a free quote! We’ll be excited to lend a helping hand.