What are Architectural Roofing Shingles?

What are Architectural Roofing Shingles

What are Architectural Roofing Shingles? Architectural roofing shingles, also known as dimensional or laminated shingles, are a popular roofing material used on many homes and buildings today. 

They provide an attractive, distinctive look and better performance than traditional asphalt shingles

This article will explain architectural shingles, their key features and benefits, how they differ from 3-tab shingles, and things to consider when installing them.

Key Takeaways on Architectural Roofing Shingles:

  • Architectural shingles are also called dimensional or laminated shingles. They are made by layering multiple asphalt shingle pieces together.
  • They are thicker and have a textured design that provides visual depth and shadow lines for a distinctive, upscale look.
  • Architectural shingles are more durable, wind and fire-resistant, and longer lasting than basic 3-tab shingles.
  • They cost more upfront but can save money in the long term with a longer lifespan of 30-50 years.
  • They are heavier than 3-tab shingles so they may require roof reinforcement. Professional installation is recommended.

What Makes Architectural Shingles Different?

Architectural shingles get their name because they are designed to provide more aesthetic appeal to a roof than typical asphalt shingles. 

The key difference is they are multi-layer or laminated shingles made by taking two or more asphalt shingle pieces and adhering them together.

This extra thickness creates a dimensional profile with texture and shadow lines that provide visual depth and make the roof look more distinctive and upscale. The laminated design also makes them stronger and more durable.

Many architectural shingles have unique designs, giving the appearance of wood shakes, slate, or clay tiles, but are still made from asphalt like traditional roof shingles. 

The layered construction combined with unique color blends and patterns provides more visual interest on the roof than basic 3-tab shingles.

Benefits and Features of Architectural Shingles

Many practical benefits make architectural shingles a better performing roofing material as well:

  • Enhanced durability and longevity – The multilayer design provides extra thickness and strength. Architectural shingles typically have a warranty of 30-50 years and a useful lifespan of 40-60 years with proper installation. The layered tabs are harder to tear or crack and better resist damage from impacts or heavy winds.
  • Fire resistance – Architectural shingles are rated Class A for fire safety with multiple layers of fire-resistant material. This is an important safety feature, especially in drier climates.
  • Wind resistance – The laminated tabs lock together better to withstand high winds and wind-driven rain. Products rated for high wind zones can resist winds up to 130 mph.
  • Algae and UV resistance – Advanced architectural shingles have mineral granules that curb algae growth and provide UV protection to prevent fading or cracking over time. This improves appearance and longevity.
  • Low maintenance – Architectural shingles’ extra durability and weather resistance mean lower long-term maintenance costs than basic 3-tab shingles.
  • Warranties – Come with extended manufacturer warranties of up to 50 years for materials and workmanship. High-wind warranties may also be offered.
  • Tax credits – You may qualify for energy tax credits if you choose Energy Star-rated products that help reduce home cooling costs.
  • Property value – The upscale appearance of architectural shingles can increase your home’s curb appeal and resale value.

Architectural Roofing Shingles

How Do Architectural Shingles Compare to 3-Tab Shingles?

Asphalt shingles labeled “3-tab” or “strip” are the basic, low-cost roofing shingles most commonly used on homes. 

They are single layered shingles with a simple rectangular profile divided into three tabs.

Architectural shingles differ from 3-tab shingles in several key ways:

3-Tab ShinglesArchitectural Shingles
Single asphalt shingle layerLaminated – 2 or more layers
Flat, smooth designDimensional texture + shadow lines
20-year warranty30-50 year warranty
20-25 years lifespan40-60 years lifespan
Standard wind ratingHigh wind rating available
Basic fire ratingClass A fire rating
Low cost$400+ per square installed
Simple installationProfessional install recommended

The price per square (100 sq ft) installed for 3-tab shingles averages $250-350, while architectural shingles start around $400 per square and go up. 

Though architectural shingles have a higher upfront investment, the return is a roof that will last decades longer before needing replacement.

Factors like your home design, climate, and budget will determine which type of asphalt shingle makes the most sense for your roofing project. 

Many homeowners are choosing to upgrade to architectural shingles for the long term value.

What to Look for When Choosing Architectural Shingles

A wide variety of architectural roofing shingles are available from manufacturers like GAF, Owens Corning, CertainTeed, and IKO. Here are some key considerations as you evaluate products:

  1. Appearance – Look for shingles that match your home’s style and provide your desired visual appeal. Color options range from black and grays to wood tones, earth tones, and reds. Amie, Max Def colors have sharp depth and dimension on contemporary homes with clean lines.
  2. Durability – Check the warranty length and lifespan rating to indicate each product’s durability. Look for impact and stain resistance features.
  3. Wind and fire ratings – Choose products rated for wind speeds and fire safety appropriate for your geographic area. High wind shingles are critical in hurricane zones.
  4. Climate suitability – Consider weather factors like extreme heat, heavy rain, freeze-thaw cycles, and snow loads on your roof. Choose resilient shingles rated for your climate.
  5. Eco-friendly features – Look for cool roof Energy Star ratings to reduce heat absorption and green manufacturing features like recycled content.
  6. Contractor’s recommendation – Ask which architectural shingles your roofing contractor recommends and who has experience successfully installing in your area.
  7. Value for money – Architectural shingles range from $300 to $700+ per square. Balance aesthetics, performance features, and warranty with overall cost.

After narrowing down product options, order shingle samples to view color and texture choices firsthand. This helps ensure you pick the perfect shingles for your roof.

Important Considerations When Installing Architectural Shingles

While the installation process for architectural shingles is similar to 3-tab, there are some important factors to consider:

  • Roof deck material – The extra weight of architectural shingles may require additional deck reinforcement. Plywood, OSB, and plank decking provide better support.
  • Roof slope – A steep roof slope provides the best aesthetic result. Architectural shingles can be installed on low slopes as low as 2:12 but may need additional underlayment.
  • Nailing – Because they are multilayered, nailing through all layers securely is critical. Additional nails are usually required.
  • Alignment – The irregular tabs and patterns require careful alignment and installation to interlock and avoid an uneven look properly.
  • FlashingMust be appropriately installed around chimneys, vents, roof edges, and valleys to prevent leakage.
  • Weather issues – Cold weather can make shingles stiff and hard to seal. Very hot weather can lead to blistering if shingles are not allowed to relax before installation. Follow manufacturer guidelines.
  • Professional installation – An experienced professional roofer best installs architectural shingles due to their complexity. Correct nails, attachment, and sealing are vital.

Architectural Shingles Provide an Eye-Catching Roof with Long-Term Value

Architectural shingles are an excellent choice if you want your roof to stand out with visual appeal while providing enhanced performance and longevity. 

The dimensional design and multiple layers create a feeling of depth and shadow for a distinctive, upscale look.

Architectural shingles are a smart long-term investment, with an expected lifespan of up to 60% longer than basic 3-tab shingles. 

The extra durability and weather resistance translate into decades of lasting beauty and protection for your home before your roof needs to be replaced again. 

Their extended warranties also provide peace of mind should any manufacturing issues arise.

While architectural shingles come at a higher upfront cost, the long return on your investment in terms of visual appeal, reduced maintenance costs, and durability make them a sound choice if you plan to stay in your home long term. 

Just be sure to have them properly installed by a professional roofer experienced with their specialized installation requirements. 

You can add instant aesthetic appeal and increased property value with the right architectural shingle roof.

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