If you’ve begun thinking about replacing your roof, chances are you’ve encountered quite a few options. From asphalt to metal, from designer shingles to flat roofing, there is a whole gamut of roofing materials and types to choose from. But when it comes down to it, most homeowners are looking to stick close to what they know, so asphalt is still the most common material consumers select.

Even if you’ve settled on asphalt, you may have noticed that there are now more asphalt roofing materials than ever on the market. Today, we’d like to highlight the main differences between traditional asphalt shingles and architectural shingles.

Traditional Asphalt Shingles: Overview & Benefits

The bottom layer of a traditional asphalt shingle is composed of either felt or fiberglass; this layer protects your home from water infiltration and supports the integrity of the shingle. Next comes the actual asphalt, topped off by a surfacing material. This material is usually made up of mineral granules that provide UV protection to shield the shingles from the harsh effects of the sun. Traditional asphalt shingles come in 2- 3- or 4-tab styles, but 3-tab shingles are most common.Tabs, or little cutouts in a shingle, create the appearance of separate shingles while providing the strength and stability of a single one.  A strip of adhesive referred to as the “seal strip” kicks in when your shingles have been installed and the heat of the sun hits your roof. This strip secures the shingles to one another and serves as a measure of wind resistance.

There are numerous benefits to choosing traditional asphalt shingles for your new roof. They are durable and energy efficient, and they are the most affordable option on the market. Additionally, you can find traditional asphalt shingles in a wide variety of colors and styles. Installation of this option is quick and easy, and repairs are generally simple, too!

Architectural Asphalt Shingles: Overview & Benefits

There are many commonalities between the makeup of traditional asphalt shingles and architectural shingles. The underpinnings are exactly the same, but where the two styles part ways is in how they are layered (or not). Architectural shingles were created as a way to mimic wood shake or slate roofing, so instead of lying flat like traditional asphalt shingles, they instead feature some shingles that are made up of two layers laminated together in order to create a more contoured appearance.

The contoured look of architectural shingles is not just for show. The benefits of this style include increased durability–reflected in longer warranties–and better wind resistance. But the aesthetic impact is important too, as it adds to your home’s curb appeal.

Making the Right Choice for Your Roof

Choosing between traditional asphalt and architectural shingles is tricky. Here are a few factors to take into consideration before making your decision:

  • Price: Traditional asphalt shingles are more affordable, but the upfront cost of architectural shingles is offset in part by the longer warranty and improved durability. If your budget is slim, traditional asphalt shingles may be the way to go. But if you have some flexibility when considering price point, architectural shingles are truly more than just an aesthetic upgrade.
  • Style: What is your neighborhood like? What is your home’s architectural style? Is it similar to other homes in your neighborhood, or does it have its own unique look? While both traditional and architectural asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors, the latter offers more of an opportunity to make a bold statement while the former will help your home blend into the neighborhood.
  • Performance: Consider your geography. Traditional asphalt shingles offer great durability, especially in mild climates. But if you live in an area that is particularly windy or prone to extreme winter weather, architectural shingles provide superior protection against these elements.

Which option is right for your roof? We’re here to help make this process are easy as possible. Contact us if you’d like to discuss your roofing options!