5 Best Architectural Shingles 2021

Asphalt shingles are the most affordable type of roofing, making them the perfect choice for homeowners on a budget. While you can save the most money by choosing 3-tab shingles, architectural styles give you the best protection and visual appeal. So what are architectural shingles, and what are the best brands? We're here to talk about five of the top architectural shingle brands.

What are Architectural Shingles?

Asphalt shingles are the most popular type of roof covering and fall into 3 categories - 3-tab, architectural, and designer. All three types consist of layers of asphalt poured over a fiberglass base, topped with colored ceramic granules.

While 3-tab shingles have lighter weight and thinner construction consisting of a single layer of asphalt, architectural shingles consist of multiple fused layers of asphalt. 

This thicker construction gives the shingles more durability, longevity, and extra dimension. The average lifespan of architectural shingles is 18 to 30 years, whereas 3-tabs are between 7 and 15 years, depending on weather conditions. Architectural shingles are also called dimensional shingles due to their unique cuts and higher visual appeal. 

Architectural shingles have a heavier weight, which gives them better resistance against weather elements. However, you do need to consider this additional weight in terms of your roof structure. Roofs that have structural integrity issues or damages can face problems from the heavier weight.

Most architectural shingles come in limited color choices that mimic natural materials, like cedar shakes or natural slate. So if you want the look of authentic materials without the extreme weight and price, architectural shingles could be the right pick for your home.

These high-definition shingles have depth and contour that give the shingle extra dimension. The edge can be straight (like a 3-tab) or angled for more contrast.

5 Best Architectural Shingles Products

CertainTeed Landmark Shingles

CertainTeed is one of the top brands in roofing shingles, offering 3-tab, architectural, and designer lines. In terms of architectural shingles, CertainTeed features the signature Landmark line

There are multiple variations of the Landmark architectural shingle, allowing you to find features that you need for your situation. But all Landmark lines consist of dual layers of laminated asphalt with ceramic granules for natural shadow lines and unique color blends. 

Additional features include a 10-year SureStart Protection plan that offers 100% coverage, a transferable limited lifetime warranty, and 10 to 15 year StreakFighter algae protection (AP). The graph below demonstrates the different variations of Landmark shingles and their features.

Line

Wind Resistance

Algae Protection

Colors

Weight

Landmark

110 mph

10 years

24

219 to 238 lbs

Premium

110 to 130  mph

15 years

4

300 lbs

Pro*

110 to 130  mph

15 years

6

240 to 267 lbs

Climateflex*

110 to 130 mph

10 years

6

240 to 267 lbs

*The Pro line - Architect 80 - is only available in Northwest locations

*ClimateFlex features modified asphalt with a Class 4 impact rating that's suitable for cold climates

*A higher wind rating is possible using a 6-nail application process instead of a standard four-nail installation. 

Overall, CertainTeed is one of the best lines to choose for your roofing. And depending on your needs, you can pick a product variation with advanced features. 

  • Pricing

Architectural shingles do come at a higher price than cheaper, basic 3-tab shingles, with the Landmark line costing $85 to $100 a roofing square (100 square feet).

The Landmark Pro (Architect 80) runs $120 to $130 a roofing square, while the Premium ranges from $150 to $160 a square.

Pros

  • Multiple variations 
  • 10-year SureStart protection
  • Various color choices with standard line
  • Excellent reputation for performance and durability

CONs

  • Heavier weight may put too much strain on the roof structure
  • Landmark variations have limited color choices

Owens Corning Shingles (2 Choices)

Owens Corning is one of the world's largest manufacturers of fiberglass composite insulation and roofing materials. So when you see the Pink Panther logo, you know you're using a reliable brand that means superior performance.

Owens Corning also offers multiple shingles products in 3-tab, architectural, and designer lines, all at an affordable price. In addition, Owens Corning offers two lines for the architectural lineup - the basic Oakridge line or the Duration, a premium pick. 

  • Owens Corning Duration Shingles

The Owens Corning Duration shingles line features eight variations. All of the Duration lines have a Class A fire rating, 10-year StreakGuard AP, 110 to 130 mph (using advanced nailing techniques), and eight TruDefinition colors. However, some lines are only available regionally.

  1. Duration
  2. Designer
  3. Max (unavailable)
  4. Premium
  5. Flex (unavailable)
  6. Storm
  7. COOL (unavailable)
  8. COOL Plus (unavailable)
  • Pricing

The Owens Corning Duration line will cost between $80 and $115 a roofing square. However, if you want a designer architectural shingle, you'll pay a premium price with the OC Duration Designer, which costs between $84 and $120 a square. OC also offers polymer-modified asphalt shingles with a Class 4 impact rating for extreme weather - TruDef Duration Flex or TruDef Weatherguard HP.

Pros

  • TruDefinition color choices
  • StreakGuard AP
  • Energy Star approved colors (for example Shasta White)
  • Multiple variations for specific needs (including Class 4 Impact Rated)

CONs

  • Smaller color selection
  • Requires installation during warm weather to seal properly
  • Owens Corning Oakridge Shingles

The Oakridge shingles are an entry-level architectural shingle for those looking for a designer shingle on a budget. These shingles have algae protection, a limited lifetime warranty, wind ratings of 110 to 130 mph, and come in six natural colors. 

The Oakridge TruDefinition is an advanced version, available in nine colors, including Energy Star choices Chateau Green or Shasta White. In addition, these shingles have a double-layer nail zone for an easier install and a stronger hold.

  • Pricing

If you choose the Oakridge line, you'll pay $90 to $105 or $96 to $117 for the TruDef Oakridge version. While that's cheaper than choosing a designer shingle like the OC Devonshire or Woodcrest, it's more expensive than the Duration. 

Pros

  • Dual-layer nail zone
  • Energy Star colors
  • Algae protection
  • Affordable

CONs

GAF Timberline Shingles/Timberline HD

Compared with CertainTeed or Owens Corning, GAF is also one of the most popular shingles brands, protecting the roofs of more than 25% of homes throughout the US. So, how do you know if GAF is the one for your architectural shingle needs? First, check out the excellent features of the #1 most sold shingle - the Timberline.

Like the competition, GAF's Timberline has multiple variations, allowing you to pick a product with the features essential to your needs. All lines have a 130 mph wind rating, Class A fire rating, AP, and a limited lifetime warranty. The graph below illustrates the different wood shake Timberline variations and color options.

Line

Colors

HDZ

16

NS (Natural Shadows)

8

UHD (Ultra High Definition)

6

AS II (Armor Shield II)*

7

CS (COOL Colors)

3

AH (American Harvest)

4

  • Pricing

GAF is a popular choice due to design and performance but also in costs. So if you need to save money without sacrificing performance, GAF could be the choice for you. 

Line

Price per square

HDZ

$90 to $125

NS (Natural Shadows)

$93

UHD (Ultra High Definition)

$125 to $150

AS II (Armor Shield II)*

$230 to $255

CS (COOL Colors)

$200 to $220

AH (American Harvest)

$110

Pros

  • Multiple lines
  • Dynamic colors
  • Algae protection
  • LayerLock technology ensures a proper seal

CONs

  • Prone to delamination (separation of layers)
  • Tricky warranties

IKO Cambridge Shingles

IKO is another brand with multiple lines of asphalt shingles, including 3-tab, architectural, and designer. IKO Cambridge shingles are the brand's architectural line. 

These shingles have two staggered layers of asphalt to resemble a wood shake, with built-in algae protection, 110 to 130 wind ratings, and a limited lifetime warranty. This line is also Class 4 Impact Rated, although it might still damage under significant hail, which isn't a warranty coverage feature. 

Unlike other brands, there are not multiple types of the same line - there are only two options. Other than the primary Cambridge line, there are the Cambridge Cool Colors, which feature higher solar reflectivity for increased energy savings.

But there are multiple variations of the Cool Colors line - separated by color choice. For example, the Cool Plus has four colors, the Cool line has two, and the Natural Cool has three. The Cambridge line comes in eleven natural colors.

  • Pricing

IKO is the most budget-friendly option, costing $70 to $81 a roofing square. However, this lower cost does mean inferior performance than top brands like CertainTeed, Owens Corning, or GAF.

Pros

  • Class 4 IR
  • Algae protection
  • Multiple Energy Star choices
  • Classic wood shake design

CONs

  • Limited choices
  • Poorer performance

Final Verdict

When it comes to picking your roof, multiple factors will affect which choice fits your needs. The most significant factor is budget. GAF offers the best performance for the most affordable price. Then there are climate and weather conditions. If you live in a humid location, you'd need built-in algae protection, which all brands offer. For high winds and hail resistance, a Class 4 IR shingle is a must. Each of the brands listed has a product with all of these features. Any of them would be a suitable choice. 

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