Which Asphalt Shingle Is The Right Choice For Your Home?

Part of a roof with new multi-dimensional  asphalt shingles


Asphalt shingles cover 70% of the roofs in the nation, and that won’t be changing any time soon. Their ease of installation, low cost, and variety of looks will keep asphalt shingles at the top of the heap for decades to come. But there are so many options it can be difficult for a homeowner to know which one to pick. So we decided to write this in-depth guide to give you a hand.


What Are Asphalt Shingles Anyway?

Asphalt shingles sometimes referred to as fiberglass shingles, start with a base layer of fiberglass or felt to keep water from penetrating down to the roof’s surface. The asphalt comes in at the next layer, which is then covered with granules of protective minerals with varying properties depending on the type of shingle.

That’s it. And yet, that’s not half of it. Asphalt shingles come in a wide variety of colors, styles, and quality levels. The three main categories for asphalt shingles are:

  • Tabbed Shingles – Single-layer shingles that are usually cut into three tabs to give the impression of more numerous shingles while maintaining the durability of a single sheet. Also found in two and four-tab varieties.
  • Architectural Shingles – Multi-layered (two-three) shingles that are more durable and add a third dimension to the look of your roofing. Often the topmost layer is a short piece that creates shadow lines for a more interesting look.
  • Luxury Shingles – These are multi-layered shingles designed to create a dramatic look to your roof through deep patterns that can run the length of your roof. Others are designed to mimic more expensive roofing materials like cedar, slate, or clay tiles.

Within these three categories are a seemingly endless array of variations. The right contractor will be willing and able to help you navigate through all the choices.


Asphalt Shingle Rating Systems

Before we get into individual shingle types, you need to understand the rating systems used for asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are rated for wind resistance and impacts from hail and foreign objects.

Wind Rating

The wind rating for shingles is based on how much wind it takes to cause a shingle to lift from the roof surface. This rating system has been modified over the years, and modern shingles now fall in one of two categories: Class F and Class H.

Class F is rated to withstand winds up to 110mph, and Class H shingles can handle winds up to 150mph. So, if you live in an area with a chance of experiencing hurricane-force winds, you need to install Class H shingles. Class F is generally good enough for the homes here in New Hampshire, NE Massachusetts, and Vermont. But if you want the extra level of security, using Class H shingles won’t do any harm.

Impact Rating

The impact rating is all about how much force a shingle can withstand without deforming, tearing, or creating bald spots from lost granules; this rating matters because the granules are your shingle’s protection from the power of the sun’s energy and, on some, from the formation of algae.

These ratings range from Class 1 to Class 4, running from Fair to Excellent, respectively. If you live where hail is a frequent problem, you’ll want shingles that are at least Class 3.


A Detailed Look At Each Type Of Asphalt Shingle

Each step up in the asphalt shingle hierarchy is, of course, a step up in cost. The price of shingles constantly fluctuates, so we will stick to percentages, using tabbed shingles as the base.

While the initial cost is the first consideration for homeowners, curb appeal and durability should be more important to you since you’ll need to replace cheap shingles three or more times before reaching the lifespan of high-quality shingles.

Tabbed Shingles

Tabbed shingles were once the biggest game in town. Light, economical, and ease of installation were the keys to their past popularity. They are available in a variety of colors. Their average lifespan is 7 – 15 years.


  • Quick Installation
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive


  • Low Resistance To High Winds
  • Relatively Easy To Damage
  • Short Lifespan

Architectural Shingles

Amazing architectural shingle roof

Also called laminate shingles, architectural shingles are quickly taking over the asphalt shingle world. They already outpace tabbed shingles for new installations. An architectural shingle has two or more layers, often with a smaller top layer offset to create a more interesting look for your roof. They come in many colors and styles and can be expected to last at least 25 years, with the highest-end shingles rated up to 50 years.



  • High Visual Appeal
  • High Wind and Impact Resistance
  • Long Life (25 to 50 years)


  • Higher Cost (40% more than tabbed shingles and up)
  • Require Careful Installation
  • Much Heavier Than Tabbed Shingles

Luxury Shingles

Luxury Shingles

Luxury shingles are the top of the class in the asphalt shingle world. Their design and construction are far superior to any other asphalt shingle type, and they can look absolutely amazing. Some variations can make your roof like it is covered with cedar shake, slate, or clay tiles. They are quite heavy, often having five layers per shingle, but they will most likely be the last shingles you will ever need to buy since they easily last 30 to 50 years.



  • Incredible Beauty
  • Extreme Wind And Impact Resistance
  • Very Long Life (30 to 50+ years)


  • High price (100+% more than tabbed shingles)
  • Difficult installation (pros only)
  • Very Heavy (must be the only layer of shingles)

Picking The Right Shingle For Your New Roof

Deciding which asphalt shingle is the right one for your home is a study in balancing desires and needs. Everyone wants their roof to look as good as possible. After all, it represents 40% of your home’s curb appeal, according to realtors. That’s a massive impact on how your home is perceived.

However, you need to consider how well your new roof will match the rest of your home and how deeply your choice will reach into your budget for home repairs. Financing can help with that, and we have options for almost every budget out there, but the choice still needs to make sense to you.

You need to ask yourself the right questions.

How long do you plan to stay in your home, and does it matter to you how long your new roof will last? If you plan to stay, it makes sense to get a roof that will outlive your ownership of your home.

Are you getting ready to sell and, if so, how much will the look of your new roof help that process? The good news is that the return on investment for a new roof approaches 100%, according to many real estate agents, and homes with new roofs sell more quickly than homes with aging roofs.

And lastly, are there local rules you need to consider? Many HOA’s demands that you at least use architectural shingles, so do your research.

Whichever way you go, make sure it’s a choice you can live with emotionally as well as financially. The one sure thing is that you need to follow through if you are thinking about a new roof. Nobody thinks about their roof unless there’s an issue.

Is it time to replace your old roof? If so, contact us at Jancewicz & Son for a free estimate. We’ve been replacing roofs, including those of historic buildings, since 1933.

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