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4 Different Types of Asphalt Shingles

A collage of asphalt shingles.

Since the dawn of time, man has been using various materials to protect their home, group, family, and friends. Experts identify the thatched roof as the oldest construction material, using palm fronds, water reeds, and straw to protect it from the elements.

While humankind has advanced quite a bit on roofing material selection, the goal of protecting the inhabitants within the structure has not changed. Currently, asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material, so now you can find a variety of types to meet diverse needs.

To learn more about the several types of asphalt shingles, related styles, the pros and cons of each, and where each type is best utilized, keep reading!

Types of Asphalt Shingles

Four primary asphalt shingle types exist, including:

1. The Original 3-Tab

Edge of dark roof shingles

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3-tab, strip, or traditional shingles are the oldest asphalt shingle type available. The 3-tab shingle didn’t always look and perform the same as today; this type has experienced extensive improvements over the years, including the most recent addition of a fiberglass mat, thus eliminating the cellulose core.

When first launched, 3-tab shingles were considerably smaller than today’s version and required a manual sealing operation.

During the 1950s, shingle manufacturers launched self-sealing shingles that could easily be installed by nailing the material to the roof and then sealed by the sun’s rays. Later, metric 3-tab shingles were developed, which grew but were faster to apply than individual shingle segments. The metric 3-table shingle is installed by roofing professionals today because they save time and cost less.

3-tab shingles used to be monotone, but you can now purchase this asphalt shingle type in several combined shades. Most homeowners find this more aesthetically pleasing because it creates solid color variations and adds curb appeal to your home.

To identify 3-tab shingles, look for their consistent and straightforward appearance, with all individual shingles being the same size, rectangular shape, and lying flat next to one another.


  • Countless colors and styles are available to match your home décor.
  • Lower starting cost.
  • Simple to repair because shingles are not interconnected.


  • It can trap moisture, which leads to mold and decay.
  • Lower lifespan than other shingle types.
  • Not as harsh weather resistant as several other shingle types.
  • Requires proper attic ventilation to help prevent moisture buildup.

2. Highly Performing Performance Shingles

Vector of common shingle problems

Performance shingles come in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes. These shingles deliver specific performance benefits, including algae, fire, impact, and wind resistance. Since roofing is the first line of defense against environmental elements, shingles are subjected to algae, fires, hard impacts, and wind.

Algae Resistant

Algae growth on rooftops is a significant problem in numerous North American areas. When the algae die, it leaves black stains on the roof, which can be incredibly difficult to remove. However, several asphalt shingle types offer algae-resistant particles which reduce the growth on your roof, even in humid areas.

Fire Resistant

Another critical element to protect your home against is fire. Shingles with a Class A Fire Resistance rating are readily available. Class A has the highest fire resistance rating available, so you maximize protection. It’s important to note that a whole Class A fire resistance roofing system must be installed together since other roofing elements offer fire protection.

Impact Resistant

In many areas of the U.S., it’s common for shingles to experience hard, sudden impacts from branches, hail, and other debris. As a result, technology has helped create performance shingles better designed to resist hail and remain intact during storms. However, like with fire resistance ratings, a similar scale of impact resistance exists.

A class 1 impact-resistant shingle doesn’t crack when hit in the same spot twice with a 1.25-inch diameter steel ball. Class 2 won’t break when hit twice with a 1.50-inch steel ball. Class 3 doesn’t’ crack when hit twice with a 1.75-inch steel ball. Finally, class 4 won’t break when hit twice by a 2.0-inch steel ball.

Wind Resistant

Performance shingles are often designed with distinctive features that better deal with high winds while reducing wind blowoff or uplift. Since wind can be such a dangerous natural occurrence to your home, it’s critical to have performance shingles if you live in a region susceptible to windy conditions.


  • Depending on the class rating, you could qualify for insurance discounts.
  • Due to their protective features and weather resistance, homeowners save money over time.
  • Excellent resistance against algae, fire, impact, and wind.
  • Unlikely to need to file an insurance claim following a storm.


  • High initial purchase cost, especially between class 1 and 4 types.
  • Insurance companies could add a clause to your policy, excluding cosmetic damage.

3. Luxury

Luxury home with premium asphalt shingles.

Also known as designer or premium shingles, luxury shingles are comprised of two layers of laminate shingles but have additional features that give a more premium appearance. Luxury shingles mimic the aesthetic of other roofing materials, including slate tiles and cedar shakes.

This asphalt shingle type was developed to give homeowners a customized aesthetic without the drawbacks and prohibitive cost of traditional roofing materials.


  • Less required maintenance due to excellent durability.
  • These shingles usually come with a 30-year prorated warranty with the option to purchase a 50-year enhanced warranty.
  • Variety of cuts and colors for even the most complicated roof.
  • With proper roof installation and adequate attic ventilation, luxury shingles can last up to 50 years.


  • The cost is almost double that of the dimensional asphalt shingle.
  • It is difficult to install due to its weight and thickness.
  • Often made with petroleum products, so they are not environmentally friendly.

4. Weather-Resistant Dimensional

Closeup of weather-resistant dimensional shingles.

Dimensional shingles are called by several names, including architectural and laminate shingles. However, if you wish to identify this asphalt shingle type, its composition is the main difference between dimensional and traditional shingles.

Dimensional shingles are comprised of two layers, both of which contain fiberglass and asphalt. This two-layer construction adds thickness, which gives them a weather-resistant advantage over other shingle types.

Dimensional shingles are unique because they are not cut into identically sized shapes, like 3-tab shingles. Instead, every shingle is manufactured using alternating tabs or areas of double and single layers. Known as “dragon’s teeth,” this shingle pattern also includes a shadow line, which provides a band of dark particles.

The combination of double-layer tabs and the single-layer intermittent shadow band adds dimensions to the roof, hence the name, to enhance the style and aesthetic of the home.


  • Enhancement to any home style due to the double-layer tabs and single-layer shadow bands.
  • Excellent weather resistance due to the two-layer construction.
  • Prominent level of durability because these shingles are constructed from two layers.


  • Approximately 50% heavier than 3-table shingles could impact the structural integrity of your roof and add pressure to the structure.
  • These shingles can’t be installed during inclement weather because they may be damaged before application.
  • A high initial cost due to the durable material and specific installation process.


What are the longest-lasting asphalt shingles?

The marketplace’s longest-lasting and most durable shingles today are dimensional shingles because they have a dual-layer construction that makes them an excellent choice for longevity.

What is a composition shingle?

Composition shingles describe shingles constructed from more than a single material. For instance, slate shingles are not considered composition because they are made from slate, a single material. However, all modern asphalt shingles are considered composition shingles since they’re made from asphalt and particles that a fiberglass base material.

Several years ago, manufacturers created an alternative composition shingle made from plant-based material, cellulose, and asphalt. However, this was not a popular option and has since been phased out of the market.

Which asphalt shingles are better – light or dark?

Light shingles perform much better in warmer weather because lighter colors better deflect sunlight, thus keeping your home cooler. Dark shingles are the opposite, so they perform best in colder weather climates. Dark colors are proven to absorb heat from the sun and surrounding environment, making the snow melt more quickly.

What is the typical longevity of asphalt shingles?

The typical lifespan of various asphalt shingle roofs is between 15 and 30 years. While this may seem like a lengthy period, other shingle materials last longer, some even up to 50 years, without requiring replacement.

What is the least expensive roofing material?

Asphalt is the cheapest roofing material on the market, thus making it the most popular option. Asphalt shingles are the best choice for homeowners facing budgetary concerns because they are durable, last between 15 and 30 years, and come in various sizes, colors, and styles to match any exterior décor.

Can roofing experts install asphalt shingles over existing shingles?

Installing new shingles over the existing components takes significantly less time than removing the entire room and re-shingling. The roof looks just as good as a completely re-shingled roof and lasts as long. Additionally, this process doesn’t de-void the manufacturer’s warranty, so you’re covered if an issue occurs.

How can you choose the best asphalt shingles for your home?

Many factors must be considered when selecting the best asphalt shingles for your residence. First, the pitch of your roof will have a significant impact. The higher the slope or pitch, the more shingles you’ll see from the street, so many opt for the most aesthetically-pleasing, luxury option.

Second, you want to select a profile and color that improves your home’s architectural style while drawing the eye toward unique roofing details. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing while living in the house, it adds curb appeal, which could drive prices when you’re ready to sell.

Third, if you live in a harsh weather climate with significant wind and storms, you will save money by installing weather-resistant performance shingles.


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