How to Choose the Right Type of Roofing Shingle for Your Home
Roofing shingles are arguably the most important building materials used to protect your home from the elements. Designed for installation in an overlapping pattern of rows, they shed water in the direction of a roof slope to keep a home dry. Roofing shingles come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. Since a roof is highly-visible, you will want shingles that reflect your aesthetic and design preferences. However, you also need to take into consideration factors like price, utility, longevity, and region-specific performance needs (like algae protection in humid areas). These factors make choosing the best roofing shingles more complex than just picking a nice design and color. While your options may seem overwhelming, this page will help you evaluate different shingle types and develop a set of criteria to choose the right product for your roof.
Popular Roofing Materials
There are numerous roofing materials and designs to choose from. Use this list to learn about the different options available and guide your decision-making process.
Asphalt shingles are the most popular residential roofing option in North America. These shingles are built to be durable, lasting decades while requiring minimal upkeep. They are a top choice for homeowners and building professionals alike because they are affordable, inexpensive to install, and come in a variety of colors and styles that can match almost any taste.
There are three main classes of asphalt shingles to choose from: strip shingles, dimensional shingles, and luxury shingles.
Strip shingles, also known as three-tab shingles, are the most basic and affordable option. They are named for the cut of the shingle, and come in the form of a single, flat layer of asphalt. CertainTeed offers multiple strip shingle options, including our XT 25 model.
Dimensional shingles, also known as architectural or laminate shingles, are the most prevalent roofing choice for American homes. They are made from two or more laminated layers of asphalt to create a multi-dimensional look which replicates the appearance of natural wood shake roofing or slate tile roofing. CertainTeed’s Landmark® shingles are a top model for this option.
Luxury shingles are the high-end laminate shingles. They offer greater protection from the elements, richer color blends and gradations, and sophisticated designs that add value and beauty to an exterior. CertainTeed’s Grand Manor® and Carriage House® shingles are luxury asphalt products.
To learn more about these differences, check out our guide to the Types of Asphalt Roofing Shingles, which will help you determine which asphalt shingles are ideal for your home.
Solar Shingles and Tiles
You may already be familiar with non-integrated solar roofing systems, like panels that are placed on top of your roof; however, solar shingles are an option that is growing in popularity. These tiles are integrated into the existing roofing, creating a flatter, smoother appearance. You may have seen solar shingles like those developed by Tesla, but there are also other options to consider.
CertainTeed’s Apollo® II solar shingles and Apollo Tile II solar tiles integrate with new or existing asphalt shingle or concrete tile roofing, allowing a roof to capture solar energy while maintaining a low-profile look that is more aesthetically pleasing than traditional solar panels. If you want your roof to protect your home while also providing clean energy for your household, consider the options available to you on our Solar Roofing page.
At first glance, most people think metal shingles are actually made of wood, sl
ate, or clay. They come in a variety of colors and styles without sacrificing durability. At CertainTeed, our Matterhorn(r) metal roofing uses a proprietary anti-corrosive and fade-resistant paint system that emulates the look of traditional roofing materials.Metal shingles, also called architectural metal roofing, offer the durability of steel for your home without creating an overly metallic look. Rather than being installed individually, these shingles are installed through a panel system.
This increases the overall durability of your roofing. Metal roofing is popular in hot climates because of the availability of ‘cool roof’ paint colors, and is also a great choice for homeowners living in hail-prone regions due to the innate impact resistance of metal (read more on cool roofing and impact resistance below).
Historically, shingles were made from split pieces of wood, and many homeowners still want that old-world look. In North America, cedar shakes are one of th
e most popular wood types used in roofing. However, wooden shingles are expensive to purchase and install, and require more maintenance than almost any other roofing material.
CertainTeed offers multiple products that emulate cedar shakes without the restrictive drawbacks. A few options include:
Matterhorn Shake metal roofing, which combines the protective elements of steel with the classic appearance of weathered wood.
The very mention of clay roofing conjures images of charming Spanish Colonial homes that are popular across California and Texas. Not only is this roofing useful fo
r keeping homes cool through the hot, dry desert summers, but it also offers protection in the form of fire resistance.
Traditional clay roof tiles were made from local resources like terracotta, whereas modern clay shingles are made from a variety of materials that are designed to last longer. Clay is also very heavy, breakable, and expensive to install and repair.
There are smart alternatives to natural clay roofing. Matterhorn Tile, for example, provides the look of clay in a much tougher and lighter form (weighing approximately 600 to 800 pounds per square less than clay tile).
Slate roof tiles are similar to their clay counterparts. They are prevalent in areas with significant slate resources, though you will find slate roofing across the country. While aesthetically pleasing, slate is expensive, difficult to install, and fragile.
The challenges of working with slate led to the development of numerous alternatives. CertainTeed offers many slate-style shingles that emulate this classic look while improving the overall roofing performance. A few different options we have are:
Belmont and Carriage House luxury asphalt shingles, which closely replicate the color and dimension natural slate, but with greater durability, less weight, and a lower material and installation cost.
Matterhorn Slate metal roofing, an option that offers the performance of durable and lightweight steel as well as the curb appeal of quarried slate.
While personal design preference is an important factor when choosing a roofing material, there are other considerations that could affect your home’s value and durability. Below are a few factors to keep in mind when weighing your options.
Consider the effect that your roofing option will have on the environment. Not only because of the carbon footprint that comes with making the shingles, but also because of the long-term energy costs to your home.The right roofing materials can insulate a home, driving down energy costs and your environmental impact. If you choose solar shingles, your roofing can actually generate clean energy, limiting your dependence on utility companies that are still mostly powered by fossil fuels.
At CertainTeed, we developed Cool Roof technology that works to insulate your home while reflecting the sun’s rays. This, in turn, keeps your roof cooler in the summer, requiring less energy - like the use of air conditioning - to cool your home. Our Cool Roof products can be used to comply with the leading standards, and achieved EnergyStar® qualified levels for protecting homes.
Additionally, since our metal roofing products are recyclable, they don’t have to end up in a landfill, contributing to sustainability once you decide to remove them. Other manufacturers use a percentage of recycled metal when they create new shingles, thereby extending the service life of the base product.
We also have an asphalt shingle recycling program. Roofing materials are one of the most common items found in landfills, but we collect old asphalt roofing and use it for asphalt road paving. Learn more about our Roofing Responsibly program, but keep in mind that it is only available in areas with shingle recycling centers.
If you live in an area that is prone to extreme weather, then impact resistance needs to be a significant factor in the shingle decision. The damage caused by hail can create breaks in roofing materials that compromise waterproofing capability and leave a roof vulnerable to water infiltration, leaks, and possibly mold. The damage done to roofing by hail impact is not always visible to the untrained eye, leading to misconceptions by homeowners that their roof is still ok because it doesn’t ‘look damaged’.
If you live in a hail prone region, CertainTeed recommends roofing that has a high impact resistance rating. Roofing materials of all types must pass vigorous third-party testing before they enter the marketplace, including impact-resistance testing. Each product is provided with an impact-resistance rating from Class 1 to Class 4, with Class 4 being the most durable against simulated hail testing (capable of withstanding impacts up to 90 mph without cracking or breaking).
Since it can help reduce or neutralize hail damage, many homeowners’ insurance carriers offer discounts on premiums when impact-resistant roofing is installed. In areas where hail storms are prevalent, some insurance carriers require that roofing with a high impact-resistance rating be installed on an existing or replacement roof in order to qualify for coverage.
Impact-resistant roofing can be found in many materials types, from inherently tough metal roofing to shingles with rubberized polymers blended into the asphalt to help withstand forceful blows.
The natural elements of wind, rain, and sun aren’t the only threats to your roof. In humid areas or regions with thick shaded areas, black streaks can quickly form along your roof. This discoloration is the result of algae growth, which may form in specific patches at first and then expand across your roof.
If this is a significant problem in your area - look for black streaking on other roofs in your neighborhood as a barometer - you will want to opt for an algae-resistant roofing option. If you are considering asphalt shingles, we recommend shingles made with StreakFighter® algae-resistant shingle technology to help prevent the formation and spread of algae.
A roof is critically important to the health and welfare of any household, which is why warranty coverage is offered for both roofing materials and installer workmanship. Sometimes these warranties are standalone, and sometimes they are bundled together. There are also extended warranties offered. It can be a confusing consideration, so we have created a Warranty 101 guide to help you navigate your options and better understand what should be covered to protect your investment.
Get more explanations about other considerations beyond the material type, including sustainability, impact resistance, algae resistance, and warranty coverage.Choosing the right roofing for your home goes well beyond deciding on a color and style.
The smart path forward also considers which materials will be best based on climate, budget, and homeowner needs.
CertainTeed offers numerous resources to build your knowledge-base and help you make sound roofing decisions. Check out the links below, which offer insight to common questions on both residential roofing and roofing contractors, as well as provide design tools to help bring your creative vision to reality.