How to Shop for Roofing Shingles

How to Shop for Roofing Shingles

Buying roofing shingles is as challenging as replacing an old roof by yourself, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not alone, though.

While more than 75 percent of American homes use asphalt shingles on the roof, most homeowners know next to nothing about how to shop for replacement shingles when the time comes.

There are a number of things to consider, including the kind of shingles you want, the budget, the weight, and warranties. By taking the steps to learn more about roofing shingles, you are ensuring that you are going to purchase the right kind for your home.

Here is everything you need to know about buying roofing shingles:

Know Your Shingle Types

Before you even start thinking about what brand to purchase or which quality level to purchase, you need to do know about all the roofing materials available out there and whether or not they will function properly on your home. There are currently four types of asphalt shingles that are available for your home: strip shingles, interlocking shingles, laminated shingles, and large individual shingles. There are also different materials of shingles, including cement, clay, natural rock/slate, wood, and synthetic varieties.

The features of the asphalt shingle types are:

  • Strip shingles: Conventional 3-tab shingles, usually 12 inches by 36 inches. Single layer.
  • Architectural shingles: Also called laminated or dimensional shingles. These have two layers, making them thicker and more durable than 3-tab shingles.
  • Interlocking shingles: Designed for higher wind resistance, these architectural shingles lock into place more securely.
  • Individual shingles: Usually hexagonal or rectangular in shape and do not have tabs. For special applications only.

Most homeowners choose architectural shingles these days for the durability and cost-effectiveness.

What To Look For When Choosing Shingles

Now, once you have done some research online or in-store and narrowed down some favorite roofing materials for your home, it is time to start thinking in terms of type, style, durability, and cost. These four factors are going to help you figure out which roofing shingle is best.

Type & Style

Choose a type of shingle that is going to look good on your home. When doing this, consider the pitch of your roof—is it low or high? Do you want asphalt shingles? Wooden shakes? Something synthetic or natural? You can choose from metal, asphalt shingles, wooden shakes, clay/cement tiles, and much more. And as stated earlier, asphalt shingles come with their own varieties.

Also, think about color scheme and texture. You want to purchase shingles that will look good on your home and complement the architectural style. For instance, you probably wouldn’t use metal on a Victorian home.


Do you live in direct sunlight? Are there trees covering the roof? Is your area prone to lots of rain? Exposure to moisture or salt water? High wind? All these things should be taken into consideration. More expensive shingles are going to be more resistant to wind damage, impacts, and temperature fluctuations.

Furthermore, consider what each type of shingle can resist. Some types, like wood shingles, are more resistant to insects and rot than others, but they are are less resistant to water. Depending on your region, one material may be better than others.


Cost is always going to be a factor, because some roofing shingles are far more expensive than others. You can save money by choosing 3-tab shingles, but their durability is lacking compared to architectural shingles, which may last a decade longer. Weigh your options, your budget, and the time you want to spend at your current address. If you plan on moving any time soon, a cheaper option may be better.

Inspect The Warranties

When you start shopping around for shingles, you need to do more than consider the kind of shingles but whether or not you are going to be protected during unfortunate circumstances. In other words, what about the warranties?

There are two warranties you want to consider when buying roofing shingles: manufacturer warranties and the contractor’s warranty, also called the installer warranty.

Manufacturer Warranties

Most manufacturers these days offer a limited lifetime warranty for their shingles. However, this is legal doublespeak, and the “lifetime” they are talking about isn’t your lifetime in the house but the rated life expectancy of the shingles. If you see manufacturers with lifetime warranties that talk about a starting period, it usually means that defects and installation issues are covered for 10 years. After that, your coverage is prorated.

In other words, you get reimbursed for the depreciated value.

To get the most out of the lifetime warranty, you need to either buy more expensive shingles or buy more accessories from the manufacturer. Another way to upgrade your protection is to use a credentialed contractor.

For example, GAF and Owens Corning both have levels of warranty protection that are upgraded when you buy special components, like ridge caps, and when you use a contractor who is GAF or OC certified to install their shingles. Doing so will take your 10 years of coverage to a full 40 or 50 years—whatever the life expectancy of the roof is thought to be.

Installers’ Warranties

Some roof contractors will offer a workmanship warranty on top of the manufacturer warranty. Ask for a copy of the warranty in writing and make sure that it covers at least 5 years, since most roofing problems occur within the first few years after installation.

If you plan on buying shingles from the same contractor who will be installing those shingles, this is crucial. You want to know the work is covered and will be in line with the manufacturer warranty already on the shingles.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you have gained some valuable insight on buying roofing shingles. After selecting some shingles, it is wise to talk over your choices with a professional, as well. Do some extra research. With these tips in mind while shopping and hunting for a contractor, you will have no problems with finding shingles that are perfect for your home.

Need a roofer or a competitive quote or more information about buying roofing shingles for your home? Get in touch by filling out the contact form. We’ll send more information to your inbox.