Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional or laminate shingles, consist of a heavy fiberglass mat base laminated to multiple layers of water resistant asphalt. Ceramic-coated mineral granules are ingrained in the top layer of the shingle. Additionally, the mat base on an architectural shingle is made much heavier than a traditional asphalt shingle. Unlike 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles come in various sizes and contain multiple layers of asphalt creating a staggered, three-dimensional roofing pattern when installed.
In the 1970s, architectural shingles emerged as a sturdier, high quality option for asphalt roofing. Today, architectural shingles are widely popular among homeowners, and asphalt shingles make up 80% of the roofing market. Some prominent roofing companies who have joined the architectural shingles industry include Atlas, CertainTeed, Decra, Elk, Iko, Malarkey, Owens Corning, and Tamko.
There are several alternatives to architectural shingles that either resemble architectural shingles or are made of similar materials.
Architectural shingles are fiberglass reinforced asphalt shingles. Since fiberglass is derived from inorganic, non-combustible materials, the mat base of an architectural shingle is fire resistant. Therefore, architectural shingles have a Class A fire resistance rating and can provide safe coverage for your home.
Since architectural shingles also have multiple laminated layers, they can withstand wind gusts of up to 110-120 mph. Lighter weight 3-tab asphalt shingles can peel back if wind gusts are over 80 mph.
Additionally, Impact Resistant (IR) architectural shingles are designed to withstand Class 4 impacts. (Most commonly, impact resistance is important if you live in an area that regularly has serious hail storms). In a study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Class 1 impacts were tested on a regular roof and an IR roof. The tests revealed a 75 percent passing score in areas on the IR architectural shingle roof that were hit, versus a 55 percent passing score for the impact zones on a standard architectural shingle roof. This study revealed varying levels of hail resistance between IR architectural shingle roofs and standard architectural shingle roofs.
Many manufacturers of asphalt shingles offer lighter roofing colors that reflect the infrared radiation from the sun off the surface of the roof. This prevents extra heat absorption and can reduce your energy bills. Most of these solar reflective asphalt shingles have pigmented mineral granules and reflective surface coatings that impact the level of IR reflection.
Roofers commonly refer to 100 square foot of roofing as a “square”. Shingles are sold in bundles, and it typically takes 3 bundles of shingles to cover a square.
Architectural shingles are less expensive than slate and shake shingles, but they’re more expensive than 3-tab shingles. Depending on options, in September 2018 a bundle of architectural shingles runs anywhere from about $25 to $45. Asphalt 3-tab shingles range from around $20 - $33 a bundle. So, given that it takes 3 bundles to cover a square, architectural shingles range from $.75 - $1.35 per square foot. 3-tab shingles run anywhere from $.60 - $.99 per square foot. However, many variables can impact the price of architectural shingles including color, warranty, roof size, and oil prices.
Furthermore, the cost of simply buying architectural shingles is much less than the cost of having architectural shingles installed. First, there are many other materials, such as plywood (if parts of your existing roof deck needs to be replaced), various types of underlayment, drip edge, nails, flashing and ridge vents. Second, contractors will need to own or rent tools, ladders, a dumpster to remove debris. Third, installation fees vary greatly depending on where you live and how much the contractors in your area charge. To receive a more accurate estimate, you’ll need to get bids from contractors in your area.