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What is the difference between architectural and composite shingles?

Architectural shingles and composite shingles

When it comes to choosing the best roofing material for your home, there are various options, but the two prominent options are architectural shingles and composition shingles. 

In this blog post, we’ll look at the differences between these two types of shingles, including their composition, appearance, durability, and pricing, so that you can make an informed decision according to your roofing needs.

What Are Architectural Shingles?

architectural shingles

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional or laminate shingles, are a type of asphalt shingle that offers a more aesthetically beautiful and high-performance roofing solution. Architectural shingles are produced with a thick fiberglass mat base.

This base is coated with waterproof asphalt and then covered with ceramic granules, protecting the shingle from UV rays while adding color. Because of their multilayering, these shingles have a three-dimensional look.

Key Features of Architectural Shingles

  • Architectural shingles are approximately 50% thicker than standard asphalt shingles, making them more durable and long-lasting.
  • They often have 30-year to lifetime warranties instead of regular shingles’ 20-year warranties.
  • Some architectural shingles have reflecting qualities that help reduce heat absorption and cooling costs during hot weather.
  • They can withstand winds up to 120 mph, whereas regular shingles are typically rated for 60-70 mph winds.

What are composite Shingles?

composite shingles

Composite shingles were invented in the 1960s but gained popularity in the 1980s. Today, composite roofing is one of the most common roofing materials in the United States.

Composite shingles, or synthetic shingles, are constructed from various materials, including recycled plastics, rubber, and other environmentally friendly products. They are intended to emulate the appearance of old roofing materials such as slate, wood shakes, and even clay tiles, but with improved performance.

Key Features of Composite Shingles

  • Composite shingles are exceptionally durable, with guarantees lasting 50 years or more. They are resistant to cracking, warping, and other types of weather damage.
  • Composite shingles are lighter than conventional roofing materials, making installation easier and putting less strain on the roof.
  • Composite roofing is resistant to UV radiation and extreme weather conditions such as hail, intense rain, and wind.
  • Composite shingles are fire-resistant, with the majority having a Class-A fire rating, which means they do not ignite and can help prevent the spread of fire.

Pros of Architectural and Composite Shingles

Composite shingles and architectural shingles provide various benefits. Some of the impressive qualities of both of the shingles are:

It is 50% thicker than traditional shingles, enhancing durability.
It often comes with 50 years or more warranties, with some manufacturers offering up to 75 years.
Aesthetic Appeal
It offers a multi-dimensional look that can mimic wood shakes or slate, with over 70% of homeowners preferring this style for upscale homes.
It can replicate the appearance of high-end materials like slate, wood, and tile with a 95% accuracy rate in mimicking their textures and colors.
Wind Resistance
It is typically rated for winds up to 110 mph, with some products certified for up to 130 mph.
It can withstand winds up to 120 mph, with some premium brands rated up to 150 mph.
Usually, it comes with a 30-year to lifetime warranty, with over 85% of manufacturers offering lifetime warranties.
Often comes with 50 years or more warranties, with many brands offering transferable warranties to subsequent homeowners.
It costs around $3.50 to $5.50 per square foot, providing a good balance between cost and long-term value.
Initial costs range from $4 to $7 per square foot, but they offer long-term savings due to minimal maintenance and longevity.
Fire Resistance
It generally has a Class A fire rating and is 90% effective in protecting against fire spread.
Typically, it has a Class A fire rating, offering the highest level of fire resistance available.
Environmental Impact
Some brands offer recyclable options, with up to 20% post-consumer recycled content.
They are often made from 50-95% recycled materials and can be fully recycled at the end of their lifespan.

Cons of Architectural and Composite Shingles

You’re probably thinking, “These were a lot of pros in favor of composite & Architectural shingles.”  However, you need to know about a couple of drawbacks before jumping into any decision making. 

30-40% more expensive than traditional shingles, averaging around $150 to $250 per square for materials alone.
Generally, it is 30-50% more expensive than 3-tab and architectural shingles, ranging from $300 to $600 per square.
Heavier than traditional shingles, which might require additional roof support, adding 10-15% to installation costs.
While lighter than natural slate or tiles, they are still heavier than traditional asphalt shingles, potentially requiring additional structural support.
It is limited to asphalt materials, which might only suit some aesthetic preferences. Only about 5-10 major styles are available.
There is a wide variety, but some homeowners may prefer the authenticity of real wood or slate. Over 50 styles are available but may only meet some aesthetic desires.
Environmental Impact
Though more durable, they are still petroleum-based, which can concern environmentally conscious homeowners. They have a 20-30% higher carbon footprint than composite options.
Despite being eco-friendly, the production process can sometimes be energy-intensive, though still 40-60% less than that of asphalt shingles.
They are widely available and easy to find in most home improvement stores, and over 90% of roofing suppliers carry them.
It may not be as widely available as traditional asphalt shingles, but it is available in about 60-70% of roofing supply stores.
Installation Expertise
Requires professional installation to ensure proper fitting and maximum lifespan, with labor costs accounting for 40-50% of total installation costs.
Installation might require specialized skills and knowledge, potentially raising labor costs by 10-20% compared to conventional shingles.

Final Thoughts

Now you have understood the key differences between architectural and composite shingles. When picking between architectural and composition shingles, you must consider your budget, desired aesthetics, durability requirements, and weather conditions.

If you are just starting any roofing project in Maryland or Virginia, consider seeking professional help. As the market leader, Evoli Roofing provides low rates and high-quality services for roofing needs, such as repair, installation, and maintenance. For further information, please call us at 757.799.4601.


Which is better, composite or Architectural shingles?

It depends on your specific needs and priorities. Composite Shingles are more durable and environmentally friendly and can simulate the appearance of high-end materials such as slate or wood. They often last longer but are more expensive. On the other hand, architectural shingles create a balance between longevity, aesthetic appeal, and cost-effectiveness. They are thicker and more visually appealing than regular shingles; however, they do not survive as long as composite shingles.

Are composite shingles worth it?

Yes, composite shingles are often worthwhile if you want a long-lasting, sturdy, and environmentally friendly roofing solution. Despite the higher initial cost, they provide exceptional value over time due to their low maintenance requirements and long lifespan.

Are Architectural shingles the same as composite shingles?

No, they are not the same. Architectural shingles are made out of asphalt and fiberglass and are intended to be more durable and visually pleasing than standard 3-tab shingles. Composite shingles, on the other hand, are made from a combination of materials such as recycled plastics and rubber, and they provide improved durability while replicating the appearance of more expensive roofing materials.



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