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Types of Roof Shingles: A Comprehensive Guide

Types of roof shingles


A roof is one of the most critical components of a house, and the choice different types of roofing material significantly impacts the aesthetics, durability, and overall value of a property. Regarding roofing materials, shingles are the most popular choice for homeowners. Shingles are flat or curved roofing materials made from various materials, including wood, asphalt, composite, metal, and even solar. In this article, we’ll look closer at the different types of roof shingles available, their advantages and disadvantages, and what to consider when choosing the right shingle type for your home.

Different Types of Roof Shingles

Shingles are available in different materials and designs, each with unique properties. Here are some of the most common types of roof shingles:

  1. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular type of roof shingles in North America. They are cost-effective, easy to install, and come in various colors and styles. They are made from a fiberglass base mat coated with asphalt and topped with mineral granules for added durability and UV protection. They are available in two types: 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles.

  1. Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles, laminated or dimensional shingles, are an upgraded version of asphalt shingles. They are thicker and heavier, giving them a more layered and textured look. They come in various shapes and sizes, creating a more natural and random appearance. Architectural shingles offer better protection against wind, rain, and hail than traditional 3-tab shingles.

  1. Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are popular for homeowners who prefer a natural and rustic look. They are typically made from cedar or redwood and can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance. Wood shingles require regular cleaning, staining, and sealing to prevent rot, mold, and mildew.

  1. Composite Shingles

Composite shingles, also known as synthetic or faux shingles, are made from a mixture of plastic, rubber, and asphalt. They mimic the look of natural materials like wood or slate but offer better durability and resistance to weather elements. Composite shingles are lightweight, easy to install, and require minimal maintenance.

  1. Shake Shingles

Shake shingles are similar to wood shingles but are thicker and more textured. They are typically made from cedar or redwood and offer a more natural and rustic look. Shake shingles require regular maintenance to prevent rot, mold, and mildew.

  1. Metal Shingles

Metal shingles are made from aluminum, copper, or steel and offer a sleek and modern look. They are lightweight, durable, and resistant to fire, wind, and hail. Metal shingles come in various colors and finishes, making them a versatile option for any home.

  1. Solar Shingles

Solar shingles are a relatively new type of roof shingle that combines the benefits of solar panels and roof shingles. They are made from photovoltaic cells that generate electricity from the sun’s energy. Solar shingles are a sustainable and energy-efficient option for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

Shingle Type and Lifespan

The type of shingle you choose can impact the lifespan of your roof. Here’s a breakdown of the average lifespan of the most common shingle types:

  • Asphalt shingles: 20-30 years
  • Architectural shingles: 30-50 years
  • Wood shingles: 25-30 years
  • Composite shingles: 25-30 years
  • Shake shingles: 35-40 years
  • Metal shingles: 50+ years
  • Solar shingles: 20-25 years

Asphalt Shingle Roofs: A Popular Choice

Asphalt shingle roofs are a popular choice for homeowners due to their affordability and ease of installation. They are also known for their durability and resistance to wind and fire. Additionally, asphalt shingle roofs come in a wide variety of colors and styles, making it easy to find a shingle that complements the style of your home.

Types of Asphalt Roofing Shingles

There are several different types of asphalt roofing shingles, each with unique characteristics. Here are a few of the most common types:

  1. Three-tab shingles: Three-tab shingles are the most basic type of asphalt shingle. They are flat with a uniform shape and size and are typically the most affordable option.

  2. Dimensional shingles: Dimensional shingles, also known as architectural shingles, are a step up from three-tab shingles in terms of durability and aesthetics. They are thicker and have a more textured, multi-dimensional appearance.

  3. Luxury shingles: Luxury shingles are the highest-end type of asphalt shingle. They are thicker and more durable than architectural shingles and come in various styles and colors.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Asphalt Roofing

Asphalt roofing offers several benefits, including affordability, durability, and ease of installation. However, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. For example, asphalt shingles can be prone to damage from extreme weather conditions, such as hail and wind. They also have a shorter lifespan than roofing materials, such as metal or tile.

What to Consider When Choosing a Shingle Type

When choosing a shingle type, there are several factors to consider, including:

  1. Budget: The cost of the shingles is an essential factor to consider. Homeowners should choose shingles that fit their budget while meeting their aesthetic and durability needs.

  2. Climate: The climate in the home’s area should be considered. Shingles should withstand extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain, hail, snow, and wind.

  3. Aesthetics: The appearance of the shingles is also an important consideration. Homeowners should choose shingles that complement the style and color of their homes.

  4. Lifespan: The lifespan of the shingles should be considered. Some shingle types have a longer lifespan than others and may be more cost-effective in the long run.

  5. Maintenance: The maintenance requirements of the shingles should be considered. Some shingle types require more maintenance than others and may not be suitable for homeowners who prefer low-maintenance roofing options.

Shingle Cleaning and Maintenance

Shingle cleaning and maintenance are essential for ensuring the longevity and durability of the roof. Regular cleaning and maintenance can also help prevent mold, algae, and other issues that can damage the shingles. Homeowners can perform some shingle cleaning and maintenance tasks, such as cleaning gutters, trimming overhanging trees, and removing debris from the roof. However, more complex tasks, such as shingle repair and replacement, should be left to a professional roofing contractor.

How much does it cost to shingle a roof?

The cost of shingling a roof can vary widely depending on factors such as the size of the roof, the type of shingles chosen, and the location of the property. On average, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 for a standard asphalt shingle roof installation. However, premium materials like metal or slate shingles can drive the costs higher, ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 or more. It’s important to obtain quotes from reputable roofing contractors, consider long-term durability, and factor in any additional expenses for labor, underlayment, and potential repairs to make an informed decision about the overall cost.

Roof Materials and Installation

When it comes to installing new shingles on your roof, it is important to choose the right materials for the job. A roofing contractor or a cleaning professional can help you determine the best materials for your specific project, considering factors such as climate, budget, and the design of your home. Proper installation is also critical to the longevity and durability of your new roof. Hiring a professional to install your new shingles is recommended to ensure the job is done correctly.

Hiring a Professional Roofing Contractor

Installing new shingles on a roof is not a DIY project. It is a complex and potentially dangerous job that requires specialized skills and equipment. Homeowners should always hire a professional roofing contractor to install new shingles. A professional contractor can ensure the shingles are installed correctly and safely, reducing the risk of leaks and other roofing issues.


Choosing the right shingle type is an important decision that can significantly impact the aesthetics, durability, and overall value of a home. Homeowners should consider budget, climate, aesthetics, lifespan, and maintenance requirements when choosing a shingle type. Hiring a professional roofing contractor to install new shingles is highly recommended, and regular shingle cleaning and maintenance can help ensure the longevity and durability of the roof.

Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning in Des Moines Iowa
Cedar Shake Roof before & after cleaning

Meet Bruce

50 Years of Experience &
Over 2,000 Shake Roofs Cleaned

Bruce Sullivan has over 50 years of experience in maintaining, cleaning, and restoring cedar shake roofs. Making him one of the top authorities on cedar shake roofs in the US.

Watch the Cedar Shakes Cleaning Process in Action in this video

Play Video about Roof Cleaning How to Remove Moss, Lichen, Fungi from a Cedar Roof Sullivan Roof


What can I say? Bruce and Keith provided an exceptional service, and they are really nice guys too. Found out at the last minute they were in Minneapolis, and they fit me in for a cedar shake roof cleaning the next evening after their regular job was done. Even cleaned up my gutters, small fence, and small deck at no charge. The place looks outstanding! Highly recommended.

Mike Richards

I highly recommend this business. Due to the work performed we are going to get another 10-14 years out of our cedar shake roof. We were told by some roofing companies that the roof should be replaced in 2 years. I lucked out and found Sullivan Roof Cleaning while researching companies that perform this service, and was pleased to learn that the company does work outside of Iowa. If you need your cedar shakes cleaned, go with Sullivan Roof Cleaning.

Eric Oelrich, 
St Cloud, MN

Bruce did a great job cleaning the whole exterior of my house. The roof has new life! It looks practically brand new. All the mold and moss on the roof, on the gutters, under the eaves, completely gone. He exceeded all our expectations. When he tells you what he can do for your house, you can believe and trust him. Great guy, great service.

Stuart Malone
Kansas City, MO


Cedar shakes are organic. Though a resilient material. Being organic they need to be maintained. Over time, like any organic material that are subjected to weather elements, they reach a stage of deterioration. Like UV exposure, moisture and seasonal changes. Which results in moss, mold, mildew, lichen and brown rot fungi. These infestations need to be removed to further preserve the integrity of the cedar shake.
The proper way to clean a cedar shake roof is from a ladder. By spraying a special formulated solution onto the shakes and then rinsed with a garden hose pressure. Best done by a professional cedar shake roof cleaner. Not DIY recommended.
No. Pressure washer will require walking on the shakes, which will harm them, and even at its lowest setting will also damage the shakes.
On average, cedar shakes should be cleaned every 10 ten years. Subjective to the grade of the shakes and the amount of surrounding tree cover.
Avoiding walking on a cedar shake roof, other than for repairs.
Never seal a cedar shake roof. Cedar shakes need to breathe. They expand and contract in rain conditions. Seal will shorten the lifespan, to the point of premature replacement.
Staining has no real preserve value and can also harm the integrity of shakes, as stated, they need to be able to breathe. Also, if the shakes are not properly cleaned staining can seal the deteriorating infestation within the shakes.
Depending on the grade of the shakes and installation, and if maintained properly, 40 to 60 years.


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