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Roof Upgrade Essentials: The Architectural Shingle Guide

February 20, 20245 min read

If you're looking to upgrade your home's roof, architectural shingles are one option you'll likely encounter. But what exactly are architectural shingles, and what sets them apart from regular asphalt shingles? In this post, we’ll explain what architectural shingles are, their pros and cons, costs, and help you determine if they are the right choice for your roof.

What Are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional or laminate shingles, are a premium asphalt shingle option built with multiple layers of waterproofing material. They are designed to provide enhanced protection and a more distinctive, stylized look compared to traditional 3-tab asphalt shingles.

While 3-tab shingles have a flat profile and straightforward installation, architectural styles are thicker and layered to create depth and texture on the roof. Advanced manufacturing techniques shape each architectural shingle into intricate designs, such as wood shakes, slate, or old-world tiles. When installed, the staggered shingle pattern and shadow lines created deliver a more dramatic, multi-dimensional aesthetic.

Benefits of Architectural Shingles

Upgrading to architectural shingles offers several advantages:

Improved Curb Appeal – The natural textures and shadow lines architectural shingles produce give roofs greater dimension and visual interest. Their unique profiles can mimic premium roofing materials like slate, shake, and tile for increased property value curb appeal.

Enhanced Protection – Architectural shingles have Multiple layers of material make them more durable and impact-resistant. The extra bulk also provides better insulation and weather protection. Many meet the highest Class A fire rating standard too.

Longer Warranties – High-quality architectural shingles often come with 30-50 year material warranties from the manufacturer since they are built to last decades.

Lower Maintenance – Architectural shingles won’t crack, warp, or deteriorate as quickly as other roofing types. Their enhanced durability and weather resistance capabilities mean fewer repairs down the road.

Greater Peace of Mind – Homeowners can enjoy a beautiful, more fortified roof that’s less prone to damage from hail, debris, high winds and other elements. Architectural shingles provide security and peace of mind your home's roof will hold up well for the long haul.

Types of Architectural Shingles

Several varieties of architectural shingles exist to suit an array of home design tastes and budgets:

Laminates: The most affordable architectural option; offer a dimensional appearance using a single bottom layer and partial second layer on top.

Dimensional: Feature increased thickness for a bulkier profile appearance; two full shingle layers are present.

High-Definition: Provide the most realistic depth and texture; have multiple layers to emulate premium roofing materials.

Premium Designer: Special patterns, colors and styles created, often hand-shaped and -sealed, for high-end custom aesthetics.

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Potential Downsides of Architectural Shingles

There are a few potential disadvantages to weigh if considering architectural shingles:

Higher Upfront Cost – Architectural shingles can range from $120-$350 per square (100 sq. ft.) installed. They cost more than standard 3-tabs that run $60-$150 per square installed.

Shorter Exposure – The layered construction means only 5"-6" is exposed to the elements instead of the 5"-8" exposure typical for 3-tab shingles. More material is needed to cover the same roof area.

More Installation Time – The intricate multi-layer construction requires additional installation meticulousness and time, which adds labor costs. Improper installation can also void warranties.

Color Limitations – Color and style options, while improving, are still more limited than 3-tab shingles. However, new technology has expanded architectural shingle color palettes.

Oil Cracking – Some lower quality laminate products are prone to cosmetic issues like oil cracking over time which causes visible light streaks on shingles. Quality standards vary.

Still Needs Replacement – No shingle type lasts forever. Although architectural shingles are meant to last decades, your roof will eventually need replacement even with proper upkeep.

Architectural Shingle Costs

On average, you can expect to pay:

$250 - $350 per square for premium high-definition architectural shingles

$150 - $250 per square for dimensional or designer architectural shingles

$120 - $150 per square for laminate architectural shingles

Compare this to standard 3-tab shingles which typically run $60 - $150 per square installed. Location, roof complexity, and additional extras like flashing can impact overall project costs. Architectural shingles are a mid-range roofing investment, pricier than typical asphalt but more budget friendly than real wood, slate or metal roofs.

Are Architectural Shingles Worth the Investment?

Architectural shingles offer noteworthy advantages from aesthetics to durability. But are the benefits worth the added costs?

The answer depends on your budget, how long you plan to stay in the home, and your goals for the property. For many homeowners, architectural shingles offer the ideal balance of lasting performance, attractive appearance, and moderate price point.

If your priority is enhancing home resale appeal and value, architectural shingles can provide an impressive style boost with designs that mimic premium roofing. If you live in a storm, hail, or wind-prone climate, the impact resistance and weather protection capabilities make architectural shingles a sound investment as well.

However, if you're on a tight budget or plan to move soon, sticking with standard 3-tabs may be the way to go. Also consider that while architectural shingles come with longer warranties, proper installation and upkeep impact durability more than shingle type alone.

Talk to your roofing contractor about whether upgrading to architectural shingles makes sense for your particular home and situation. They can explain pricing, value benefits, and help select a dimensional shingle style that complements your property design. Combining architectural shingle installation with extra protective elements like roof decking, underlayment, and ridge vents optimizes their performance as well.

With so many architectural shingle options now available, it's easier than ever to get the enhanced durability and beautiful aesthetics they offer on your re-roofing project. Contact our team today to learn more about architectural shingles or schedule your free roof assessment. We're here to help you make the best and most informed choice for your home and budget long-term.


Toby Richard

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