Your 3 Options When Choosing Asphalt Shingles

If you’re on this page, one of the following would be correct. 1. You’re a Roofer, or 2. You need a new roof! There’s a third option; you’re crazy about information.

Either way, this page will help you understand the difference between the three different asphalt shingle types and why they’re perfect coverings for homes in Vancouver, WA.

Let’s get started!

Why does your home need shingles anyway? Asphalt shingles protect your entire home by providing a waterproof barrier to the elements. A good roof is built with layers of waterproofing materials, and the shingles are the final layer of protection and adding beauty to your home.

Asphalt shingles are the most common roof covering in Vancouver, WA, and possibly the modern world. They were invented by Henry Reynolds in Michigan way back in 1903.

Before this point, most homes used wood shingles. If you were wealthy, you could afford slate tiles made from rock. Since most people aren’t in the “rich” category, they went with wood.

There are inherent problems with wood shingles that asphalt shingles solved.

Wood shingles were prone to mold, mildew, animals (woodpeckers & squirrels), along with damage from insects. Also, finding installation crews that can work with natural products is becoming almost impossible.

But probably the biggest issue that had homeowners nervous at night was that wood shingles are HIGHLY flammable. Not a good material in areas like Vancouver, WA that can fires.

Over the last 100 years, asphalt shingles have gone through many transformations, from the addition of surface granules to protect the asphalt layer to using fiberglass instead of asbestos to hold the shingle together. Shingles have evolved and keep evolving today to improve longevity, beauty, health, and energy efficiency.

Today, homeowners have a few good shingle manufacture options and three options when it comes to choosing the right asphalt shingles for your home. These options are 3-tab, architectural shingles, and premium shingles.

3-Tab Shingles

Three-tab (3-tab) shingles are the cheapest asphalt shingle option for roofing. They are less durable, meaning they don’t last as long as the other two shingle options. Because of this, a reputable roofer will not even mess with these shingles. They are also prone to wind blow-off, tearing, and generally more problems than they are worth.

But because they are less expensive, and not everyone can buy a better option, manufacturers still produce them, but seeing them on a home is becoming exceedingly rare.

3-Tab shingles are one single layer.

Pros: 3-Tab shingles are inexpensive, lightweight, and designed to look like slate tiles.

Cons: Low as wind rating, oils quickly rise to the top and are washed away, leading to cracking and the shingles becoming brittle. You can tell three-tab singles from the street. They have zero dimension to them. If you live in a nice neighborhood, three-tab will have your home standing out, but not in a good way.

Architectural Shingles

Also called Dimensional shingles, they are a superior product over Three-Tab shingles in many ways. Overall, they are the most popular type of roofing in America.

All shingles have layers, even the 3-tab shingle. But, with Architectural shingles, there are more and thicker layers. During the manufacturing of Architectural shingles, extra layers are fused to create a more robust product. Oils still rise to the surface, but being thicker and having more layers, this process takes a much longer time. 

These shingles also have the appearance of slate tile or wood shingles, but with a 3D appearance because of the way individual shingles are built in layers that overlap.

Pros: Better appearance, longer lifespan, better resistance to impacts (not a massive deal in Vancouver, WA), withstand higher winds (ratings starting at 110 mph), warranties as long as lifetime available. 

Cons: More expensive and heavier than three-tab shingles.

Premium Shingles

Also called Luxury Shingles, premium shingles are built much more robust. Thick, heavy, substantial, premium shingles won’t let you down. 

Besides being manufactured to last longer, other options can make premium shingles stand out depending on where you live. There are cool roofing shingles that reflect more of the sun’s heat, perfect for areas with a lot of sunlight and hot summers. There are shingles designed to handle hail or high winds. 

Finally, Premium Shingles can provide an aesthetic look that mimics other materials. You can get a wood shake, natural slate, or old-fashioned wood shingle look without the expensive installation of natural products or the required upkeep.

If you live in an HOA with roofing restrictions, sometimes they will make an exception for Premium Shingles that mimic the appearance of a natural product. It is worth checking into because the money saved could be enormous.

Pros: Long-lasting, many options for appearance and color. Come with the best manufacturer’s warranties. You get what you pay for

Cons: Heavy, not all homes can natively hold the weight, and premium looks come with a premium price tag that for many is worth it.

A note on warranties

A lifetime warranty for a Vancouver homeowner is a big deal! Since there is never hail damage in our area, you won’t get help from an insurance company when it comes time to replace the roof unless a tree falls on your home.

But not all lifetime warranties are the same. Some manufacturers ‘ warranties are so complex; you’d have better luck understanding your health insurance policy. We recommend looking for Lifetime Warranties that are easy to understand, cover both the product and labor, and are transferable to a second homeowner.

All manufactures have training programs that allow contractors to sell and install the product with the best warranty. With Owens Corning, for example, their best contractors who can offer the best Ownes Corning warranty are given the title Platinum Preferred.