Top Shingle for Roofing Options: Durability, Cost & Aesthetics Explored

What are the best shingle for roofing options, considering durability, cost, and design? This guide simplifies your decision-making process, focusing on the pros and cons of asphalt, wood, metal, and slate shingles. Make an informed choice for your roofing project by understanding which materials offer the best balance of longevity, affordability, and curb appeal.

Key Takeaways

  • Asphalt shingles dominate the roofing market due to their cost-effectiveness and design flexibility; they are available in various types, including organic, fibreglass, 3-tab, architectural, and premium options that offer differing benefits in durability and aesthetics.

  • Shingle composition is complex, involving asphalt for waterproofing, granules for UV protection, and a mat base (either fibreglass or organic felt) for structural integrity, all of which contribute to the longevity and performance of the shingle.

  • Costs of shingle roofing projects are determined by multiple factors, including labour, materials, roof size and pitch, with the type and quality of shingles chosen affecting both initial cost and potential long-term savings through durability and energy efficiency.

Exploring the Basics of Roofing Shingles

Shingles are a popular choice among homeowners in the vast universe of roofing materials thanks to their versatility, durability, and aesthetic blend. With myriad options available, from asphalt and wood to metal and slate, each type of shingle brings its unique set of advantages to the table. Among these, asphalt shingles dominate the roofing industry due to their cost-effectiveness and flexibility in design, making them a go-to roofing material for many homeowners.

Traditional shingles, the oldest form of asphalt roofing shingles, are characterized by their uniformity, with each asphalt shingle being the same shape and lying flat next to each other for a more uniform roofing surface. Asphalt shingles come in two main classifications – organic and fibreglass, each with different benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness, heat resistance, and flexibility.

Roof with different shingle types based on roof slope
Close-up of asphalt roofing shingle layers

The Anatomy of a Shingle: Composition and Quality

At first glance, a shingle might seem like a simple building material. However, beneath its unassuming exterior lies a complex combination of elements, each playing a pivotal role in protecting your home. For a clearer understanding, we will examine the complex composition of a shingle, highlighting the roles of asphalt, granules, and the mat base in composition shingles.

Asphalt's Role in Shingle Durability

Asphalt serves a critical function in a shingle, functioning as the waterproofing agent and securing the granules throughout manufacturing. The manufacturing process of asphalt shingles, unlike other roofing materials like metal or tile, involves a ‘sandwiching’ procedure, where asphalt plays an integral role.

The quality of asphalt significantly influences the lifespan of the shingles. High-quality asphalt can provide extended longevity, especially in challenging weather conditions. You’ll find a variety of asphalt types used in the construction of roofing shingles, such as:

  • Traditional shingles

  • Architectural shingles

  • Premium shingles

  • Performance shingles

  • 3-tab shingles

  • Laminated shingles

  • Interlocking shingles

Each type offers unique benefits.

Importance of Granule Layer

Just as sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays, the granules on your shingles serve as a protective barrier against these rays, preventing the degradation of the asphalt coating. These granules are made up of crushed stone and minerals, adding to the robust nature of asphalt shingles.

The granules form the superficial layer of the shingle, providing not only colour but also crucial UV protection. This granular layer shields the underlying materials from the wear and tear caused by exposure to the elements, thus enhancing the longevity of your roofing.

Understanding the Mat Base

Imagine the mat base as the backbone of the shingle. It provides structural integrity and durability, ensuring stability and support and allowing the shingles to resist tearing and deformation from external forces.

This mat base can be constructed from fibreglass or organic felt mats. While fibreglass bases offer superior stability and moisture resistance, organic felt bases provide flexibility and are impregnated with asphalt for waterproofing. Both types are crucial in ensuring the shingle’s performance and durability.

Selecting Shingles Based on Roof Slope

Similarly to selecting appropriate clothing for weather conditions, certain shingles work better for specific roof slopes. The minimum recommended slope for installing asphalt shingles is 2:12 (8.5°).

Three-tab shingles are recommended for roofs with a low slope due to their suitability for such structures. On the other hand, architectural shingles are the top choice for roofs with an average or high slope, balancing aesthetics with performance.

Architectural vs. Traditional: Shingle Styles Compared

Choosing between architectural and traditional shingles can be likened to deciding between a sleek sports car and a dependable family SUV. Architectural shingles, also known as laminate or dimensional shingles, are constructed with two layers of asphalt and fiberglass.

These shingles are known for their increased thickness and distinctive aesthetic features, setting them apart from traditional shingles’ uniform and flatter appearance. The thick two-layer construction of architectural shingles offers superior protection, making them a great choice if you’re looking for enhanced weather resistance.

Comparison between architectural and traditional shingle styles
Premium shingle options displayed with enhanced features

Premium Options: When to Consider Upgraded Shingles

Investing extra can often produce substantial benefits, as with premium shingles. These upgraded options offer specialized features that set them apart from standard shingles, enhancing your home’s curb appeal, safety, and potential resale value.

While premium shingles come with a higher price tag than dimensional shingles, they offer a range of benefits that often justify the cost. Some of the benefits of premium shingles include:

  • Distinctive appearances

  • Luxurious aesthetics

  • High-grade composition

  • Durability and longevity

The market has premium shingle options, including various roofing square sizes, to fit your home’s needs.

Installation Insights: Laying the Foundation for a New Roof

Installing a new roof is a considerable endeavour, and as with any large project, preparation is paramount. The first step in preparing the roof surface for new shingle installation involves laying an underlayment of asphalt-saturated felt over the roof structure, providing a protective layer for installing fibreglass shingles.

Though some homeowners may feel inclined to handle the installation process themselves, it’s crucial to realize that professionals are best suited for this task. Incorrect installation can lead to future complications or damage, not to mention the safety hazards involved. Hiring a professional contractor ensures high-quality workmanship, safety standards, and familiarity with local building codes.

Maximizing Your Investment: Longevity and Maintenance of Shingle Roofs

Taking good care of your roof system ensures it takes care of you in return. Regular maintenance is essential for prolonging the lifespan of a shingle roof, helping to identify and address issues early on. Conducting a thorough inspection of the roof and the attic is part of this process, ensuring everything is dry and free from leaks or moisture problems.

Part of this inspection should also focus on the state of the plastic cement beneath the flashings. Any cracks or uncaulked joints should be carefully examined and addressed, ensuring proper waterproofing to protect your roof and home.

Cost Factors in Shingle Roofing Projects

While the type of shingle you choose plays a significant role in the cost of your roofing project, it’s not the only factor. Labour can constitute 60% or more of the overall project cost, with variations depending on the roofing company. Other factors, such as the installation of flashing, chimney and gutter repair or replacement, and materials like underlayment and roof deck repair, all contribute to the overall cost of a roof replacement. It’s essential to choose experienced roofing contractors to ensure quality workmanship.

Moreover, certain roof characteristics, such as height and pitch, can also impact the cost by increasing the quantity of shingles required. Thus, the total cost of a shingle roofing project is influenced by a combination of factors, including:

  • Roof size

  • Roof pitch

  • Number of layers

  • Type of shingles

  • Quality of materials

  • Labor costs

Each of these factors plays a part in determining the project’s overall cost.

Environmental Considerations: Eco-Friendly Shingle Disposal and Recycling

In addition to shingles offering us a robust roof overhead, we must also consider their environmental impact. Asphalt shingles can be recycled at a dedicated facility, where they are pulverized and incorporated into asphalt for pavement, contributing to resource preservation, waste reduction, and improved pavement quality.

Improper disposal of shingles can result in environmental consequences such as air pollution, landfill waste accumulation, and the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment. To responsibly recycle asphalt shingles, they can be brought to a local Ecocentre or a recycling center.

Visual Appeal: Choosing Colors and Textures for Your Shingles

In the context of your home, aesthetics hold equal importance to functionality. The colour and texture of your shingles can greatly influence the overall look of your home. When selecting shingle colours, consider how they will harmonize with your home’s external features and design. Remember that darker shingles absorb more heat, potentially leading to higher temperatures inside your home during summer.

Textures, on the other hand, can add depth and dimension to your roofing. From wood shakes to three-tab asphalt shingles, each texture offers a unique aesthetic that can elevate the visual appeal of your home.

Innovations in Shingle Technology

Even the modest shingle is not overlooked in the current age of relentless innovation. Solar-reflective shingles utilize materials with high solar reflectance and thermal emittance properties to reflect sunlight, reducing a home’s cooling load and saving energy.

Moreover, algae-resistant granules incorporated in roofing shingles prevent unsightly stains and deterioration caused by algae growth, prolonging the durability of shingles while preserving their appearance. Another notable advancement is the development of impact-rated roofing shingles, engineered to withstand sudden forces and improve durability, longevity, and resilience against harsh weather conditions.


From the basics of roofing shingles to the latest innovations in shingle technology, we’ve taken a deep dive into the world of shingles, exploring their anatomy, their role in protecting our homes, and the factors that influence their cost. As we’ve seen, choosing the right shingles for your home is more than just aesthetics – longevity, durability, cost-effectiveness, and environmental considerations. So, as you embark on your roofing project, remember to take the time to make an informed decision. After all, your roof is your home’s first line of defence against the elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which shingles are best for roofing?

Architectural/laminated shingles are the best for roofing as they have several layers and can withstand stronger winds and weather than three-tab shingles. Consider their durability and ability to withstand various weather conditions.

How much do shingles cost in Edmonton?

In Edmonton, the average cost for an asphalt roof is around C$4.00 per square foot. Steep-pitched or shallow roofs will have higher costs, with a premium architectural shingle roof potentially exceeding $5.50 per square foot.

How much is a bundle of shingles right now?

The cost of a bundle of shingles can vary depending on the brand and quality. It’s best to check with local suppliers for the current prices.

Can I shingle a roof by myself?

Yes, you can shingle a roof by yourself with the help of DIY websites, and it typically takes about two days for a residential house, with potential additional time based on the roof’s size.

What is a shingle on a roof?

A shingle on a roof is a flat, rectangular piece of roofing material applied from the base of the roof upwards and overlaps to provide full coverage. These individual overlapping elements are typically laid in courses from the bottom edge of the roof up.