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What are Architectural Roof Shingles?

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Standard asphalt and fiberglass shingles are the most common roofing materials used on residential homes. Architectural roof shingles are thicker asphalt shingles designed to look like slate, cedar, clay tile and other natural materials. Using architectural roof shingles is less expensive than using natural roofing materials, but more expensive than regular asphalt/fiberglass shingles.


Architectural roof shingles are known as laminated or dimensional shingles. They provide more dramatic shadow lines and mimic the look of natural roofing materials. New housing designs often feature dramatic rooflines, turrets and gables and architectural roof shingles can complements the look.

Most architectural roof shingles are made of layers of heavy fiberglass or asphalt as the base/core layers. They are normally made of 2 to 3 layers of these laminated materials. Then mineral granules are used on top for texture and visual interest.

Architectural roof shingles come in a variety of styles. New synthetic slate shingles are made with composite material molded to mimic slate’s texture, dimensions and look. Synthetic wood shakes also mimic the look and dimensions of cedar wood. Architectural roof shingles also come in a wide range of colors, making them very versatile.

Advantages to Using Architectural Roof Shingles

Architectural roof shingles can be a cool roofing option in hotter climates. Some types of dimensional shingles offer greater light deflection and added insulation. Some manufacturers also coat dimensional shingles with zinc granules, to prevent algae and mold growth.

Architectural roof shingles are relatively lightweight, so they don’t require extra structural support. Due to the extra thickness, architectural roof shingles last longer than conventional shingles and are more resistant to high winds and fire. Also, most dimensional roof shingles are installed on a highly sloped roof, so water or snow can fall off easily. Architectural roof shingles normally have warranties for 30 to 50 years.

Buying and Installation Advice

When shopping for roofing, homeowners should compare several brands of architectural shingles. The warranties and the look of the shingles vary by manufacturer. Look for industry-standards, like certification from the independent Underwriters Laboratory. Roofing shingles that meet the ASTM 3462 certification standard will have a UL logo on the label. Also, ask local roofers and homeowners for their advice and recommendations for what works in your climate.

Many homebuilders like to use architectural shingles because of their dramatic look. These shingles are also easy to cut, fit and install and the roof can be walked on. However, roofers should install architectural roof shingles with thick felt paper underneath as well as good flashings.

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