Types of Asphalt Roofing Shingles: 3-Tab vs. Architectural: Costs in 2021

Like all products, asphalt shingles have advantages and disadvantages for home improvement. However, unlike all other home remodeling projects, a new asphalt shingle roof provides the most bang for your buck in terms of returned value over the short term (read as in the next decade).

asphalt shingles on a house

In this guide, we’ll explain what makes for a fully installed asphalt shingled roof, how it gets done, but perhaps most importantly how you can be squarely involved in the selection process forc all the materials.

Nearly a century and a half ago, asphalt roofing didn’t exist. So, in short order, this product went from being a new kid on the block to the number one way people in North America cover their homes!

Really, it’s more like 1901 as the first implementation of asphalt shingles and roughly 40 years later is when hundreds of millions of feet of the product were being produced.

Since the mid 1900’s, asphalt shingles have maintained popularity and received some changes like fiberglass mat and multiple layers or laminates with dimensional shingles to keep up with an ever-evolving roofing market.

How popular are asphalt shingles? It’s estimated that 75% to 80% of all homes in the U.S. are covered with some version of them.

The industry generates over $10 billion in revenue annually and yet contributes over 20 billion pounds of waste each year. Their ongoing mass production though does have the significant benefit of being able to obtain bundles of the product at a price that no other roofing material can match.

And because the skill set, along with the tools needed for installation are relatively low, the DIY route is more plausible with this product than most other types of roofing materials.

Still, unless you are a professional contractor, the knowledge of what product to select may seem too challenging to go the DIY path. Fortunately, retail outlets such as Home Depot and Lowe’s make the process as easy as possible. Our goal is to help you along that path.

The Basics:

The basics of a traditional asphalt shingle are cloth-like paper or fiberglass mat as a base material, with asphalt layer on top of the base as the primary waterproof material, followed a protective coat of stone/mineral granules made of hard rock.

The stone granules are designed to meet the exact specs for a specific shingle. The granules can also be made solar-reflective to achieve Cool Roof certification ratings that are required in select markets like California (CA Title 24 home building standards).

The cloth-like paper base was traditionally used back in the day with the “organic shingles”, but today, almost all asphalt shingles are made with a fiberglass mat as the base material, hence the name fiberglass shingles.

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How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Leaky Roof?

A strategically placed bucket to catch drips may be an effective leaking roof repair for the short term, but the damage could soon shift from a simple repair to requiring a total replacement.

It doesn’t take a home improvement expert to know that a leaking roof is a problem and the steadfast approach of “do nothing and everything will take care of itself”, unfortunately doesn’t apply in this situation. 😉

When water is dripping through your ceiling it means that the protective barrier of your roof has been compromised. This usually results from shingles that have blown off in extreme winds, worn-out or failed roof flashing that has allowed rainwater to seep behind, or a roof membrane puncture (or roof seams becoming unglued / coming apart) that is opening an unwanted access point to rainwater.

When water has made its way to your ceiling however, it means it has already passed the plywood sheathing under the roof, the insulation in your attic, the sheetrock on your walls, etc. Nobody wants to pay for a roof repair – but it sure is less expensive than sheathing, insulation, drywall, and flooring replacement! 😉

As you can probably imagine, many homeowners despise paying for a new roof because it offers little enjoyable value as a project. Well, besides avoiding getting wet, not having the wood in your house rot, fending off mold and mildew growth, providing energy efficiency, etc.

Average Cost To Install a new Roof Typical Range: $4,593 - $7,479
See costs in your area

Did you know? Many homeowners don’t perceive their roofs as something that can offer a quality of living upgrade, like a new hot tub or a big screen TV would. This is why so many re-roofing projects get put off until the very last minute! 😉

Replacement procrastination is one thing; however, repairs should be addressed immediately. If you know your roof is nearing the end of its life cycle, you can budget for a new one – but repairs might strike when least expected. Here is a cost guide on repairs, what they consist of, and what you can expect to pay to get back ‘in the dry’.

Average Roof Repair Costs

The national average cost most consumers reported paying for a minor roof repair was between $350 to $1,100, or about $750 on average for a minor roof repair project.

Major repairs, however, can easily cost $3,000 or more.

As expected, some repairs can cost a bit lower than the average, requiring only a simple application of caulk or roof cement to seal the source of a leak.

On the other hand, some roofs can be so badly damaged by storm winds or hail that they require a complete replacement, which could cost as much as $9,000 – $15,000 or more, depending on the size and type of roof, local real estate values, and other variables.

The size of the total roof area to be repaired/replaced will dictate how much the repair will cost. Other variables include roof accessibility and pitch, the choice of replacement material, and the amount of labor required based on the scope of the problem.

  • Roof Size – As long as problems are limited to a small area, roof size doesn’t necessarily affect repair costs. If wind, rot, and other issues attack a whole side of the roof however the higher the prices.
  • Roof Pitch – Roof access will increase the costs of the labor required to repair the roof. Quite simply put, work goes slower on a high, steep roof and requires harnesses, the rental of special equipment, and often times, a larger workforce to lessen the points between crew on the roof, middlemen, ground workers, etc. Some roofing crews will bid up to double their hourly rate ($50-$100 per hour normally) for very steep and difficult roofs, almost as a way to ‘hope’ not to get the job.
  • Materials and Labor – Professional labor and materials are going to be your two major cost points in a roof repair (with the possibility of building permits (up to $400), disposal fees ($200 min for 60ft3), and a few other miscellaneous line items). Just as material costs will dictate how much a new roof installation is going to cost, the same logic applies to repairs, with repairs generally costing more on a per square foot basis. If you need to purchase replacement materials, it can cost: asphalt ($100-$250 per square), metal ($250-$650 per square), wood ($350-$450 per square), tile ($300 to $850 per square depending on concrete or clay), slate ($550-$1,100+ per square).
  • Scope of Work – You’ll also need to know the scope of the work if it involves simply replacing a few shingles and applying caulk or replacing rotted plywood sheathing ($25-$50 per sheet) and other repairs.

Types of Commonly Occurring Roofing Problems

Finding your leak is one thing, determining what has caused the leak and evaluating for the proper solution is another. Some of the problems that can occur across different roofing material types include:

  • Asphalt Shingles – as asphalt shingles wear over the years of weather exposure, the granules start to erode, and the edges of the pieces start to curl. High winds can also rip asphalt shingles from the substrate, especially if they were fastened too high above the nailing strip. When an asphalt roof fails due to age and wear, there are generally no repair options besides a complete replacement. When sections of the loose or damages shingles blow off or become badly damaged due to storm winds or hail, replacement costs about $450 to $800 per square or more, depending on the size of the area (the smaller the area the higher the costs per square foot will be).
  • Metal Roofs – the biggest problem befalling corrugated and ribbed metal roofs with exposed fasteners, is the fasteners working themselves loose after years of expansion and contraction. This is generally an easy solution requiring the attachment of a new fastener and some caulking (labor). Metal flashing around chimneys, end-walls such as dormers, skylights, and level changes, can also often become an issue if the job wasn’t done carefully. The ribs of the metal panels can also become dented and damaged if hit by an object such as a falling satellite dish or trees. Replacing sheet metal panels is rarely done because of the difficulty in matching colors of new with UV exposed products.
  • Wood – cedar shakes and other wood roofing types are very apt to deterioration and breakdown from mold buildup, mainly in areas of the home that are heavily shaded. A lack of sealing and other required maintenance may also leave some wood roofs prone to insect infestation. Replacement is generally the best repair costing about $750 to $1,450 per square.
  • Tiles – tiles, especially clay, are most often damaged by foot traffic when accessing the roof. Although they are durable against normal weather, the tiles are also very brittle against collisions and impact. Tiles can also become damaged when freezing after becoming wet or can simply slide away from the roof if not fastened properly. Repairs are very difficult because of the fragility of walking on the tiles, possibly causing more damage than initially sent to repair. Damaged tiles will need to be replaced at $1,200-$1,800 per square or more.
  • Slate – some slate types (Buckingham) have a life expectancy of up to 100 years, but others (Ribbon) can be as low as 20 years. It’s important to know what type of slate is installed on your roof before you determine that it is a ‘lifetime material’. Slate tiles become soft and soggy as they are nearing their end of life. Slate can become cracked or de-laminate which will require a replacement as will pieces that slide after becoming disconnected from a nail. Costs will vary greatly depending on finding a matching material type.
  • Flat Roofs – another roof type needing frequent repair is a rubber or membrane surface. These are generally installed on flat roofing surfaces, so even the slightest of issues, such as seams becoming unglued and coming apart due to freeze and thaw cycles can cause leaks. Most small tears and holes can be fixed with a roofing cement as can corners that lift. A substrate that sags will collect water and leave the different roofing types more apt to rot from mildew growth. Patching and the application of a new seal will cost a varying amount in material in labor costs.

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