Types of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Asphalt roof shingles are the most popular roofing material used on homes across North America, and with good reason. They are designed to protect a home through decades of weathering with minimal upkeep, and are available in hundreds of colors and styles.

Readily Available & A Great Value

In additional to offering a variety of style choices, asphalt shingles are also widely available throughout the U.S. and Canada, and are easy to install, making them an attractive option for professional roofing contractors to offer to their customers. And while getting a new roof is by no means an inexpensive project, asphalt shingles are among the most affordable options available.  In fact, if an existing roof deck (the structural surface beneath the roofing system) is in good condition, new asphalt shingles can even be installed over older shingles, reducing the need (and cost) of a tear off of the old roofing. Check with your contractor to see if this is a viable money-saving option for your roofing project.

Different Types of Roof Shingles

There are three major categories of asphalt roofing shingle products available today - strip shingles, dimensional shingles, and luxury shingles. It is important to understand the differences between each type of roofing shingle in order to pick the right product for your home.

Strip Shingles

Also known as 3-tab shingles (due to the cut of the shingle) or simply strips, strip shingles are the original and most basic asphalt shingles. They are made from a single layer of asphalt and have a very flat appearance that typically offers a slate look. Since they are made from a single layer, they generally weigh and cost less than other asphalt shingles. Prior to designer shingles being introduced in the 1980s, strip shingles were the predominant roofing shingle in the market. Today, strip shingles are used most often used by home builders that manufacture inexpensive homes, or by homeowners who are replacing roofing shingles on residences that already have strip shingles on the roof. CertainTeed strip shingles include products such as  CT™ 20 and XT™ 30.

Strip shingle in the color Evergreen
A CertainTeed XT 25 strip shingle in the color Evergreen 

Dimensional Shingles

Also known as architectural or laminate shingles, dimensional shingles are the most prevalent asphalt shingles. These products are manufactured with two or more layers of asphalt that are fused together for a thicker and richer multi-dimensional appearance, and are engineered to replicate the wood shake and natural slate roofing aesthetics. Dimensional shingles are typically heavier than strip shingles, and have improved warranty protection. CertainTeed’s Landmark® shingles are a prototypical design for a dimensional roofing shingle.

Landmark asphalt shingles in the color Weathered Wood
The dimensional profile of Landmark asphalt shingles, seen here in the color Weathered Wood.

Luxury Shingles

Luxury shingles are the highest-quality laminated shingles available, offering a differentiated appearance or functionality that outclasses that of dimensional shingles. Apart from being shingle ‘heavyweights’ that offer premium protection for weathering, luxury shingles are stunning to look upon, presenting the highest quality, coloration, and dimensionality. These products offer the most realistic representation of the old-world wood shake and quarried slate roofing. CertainTeed’s Grand Manor®, Carriage House®, and Arcadia Shake® products are prime examples of Luxury roofing shingles.

Grand Manor luxury shingles in the color Gatehouse Slate.
Grand Manor luxury shingles in the color Gatehouse Slate.

The Dynamic Benefits of Asphalt

Due to modern engineering techniques and the dynamic properties of asphalt, manufacturers are capable of producing numerous specialty products that exist across all shingle types. These include shingles that fight algae growth, offer enhanced resistance to damaging hail, and offer cool roof color technologies that reflect the heat of the sun to keep homes cooler and can reduce the expenses of air conditioning. Depending on your location, choosing a specialty shingle can even reduce your insurance costs (e.g. - an impact-resistant shingle installed on a home in a hail zone). In addition, asphalt shingles are naturally fire resistant, making them an ideal choice for areas where wildfires are prominent.

Interested in exploring the different options available to you? Try out CertainTeed’s ColorView® home exterior visualizer tool - you can even upload a picture of your own home to try out different roofing, siding, paint and trim combinations to help bring your remodeling vision to reality.