Choosing The Right Shingles For Your New Roof

Whether your roof has suffered severe storm damage, keeps on leaking after repeated repairs, is past its warranty, or is just showing its age and signs of wear, it may be time to invest in a brand new roof.

Maybe you’re sure you want the “shingled look,” but you’re not sure which type of shingle is best. The truth is, each type of roofing shingle has its own set of pros and cons and what’s best for one home and homeowner may not be the best fit for another.

According to respected Elk River roofer Northface Construction, you should never risk climbing onto your roof to examine the shingles if you aren’t used to walking on roofs. However, you can examine your roofing from a firmly planted ladder, with binoculars from a distance, and by checking for any obvious signs like dangling flashing, shingles on the lawn, or shingle dust in the gutters.


If new roofing is a necessity or a part of your overall home renovation project, be sure to look into the pros and cons of each major roofing material on the market today. But here, we want to look at 4 key factors to consider in making your decision on roofing shingles:

1. Sufficient Protection

Consider the strength of the shingle as compared to the climate zone in which you live. Cedar shakes, for example, can be treated for fire resistance but won’t be as fireproof as are clay or concrete shingles. Concrete and slate get you the highest wind resistance, while metal is the most lightweight and eco-friendly (fully recyclable).

Asphalt shingles don’t necessarily score number one in any protection category, but they score good overall. Asphalt gets you good wind and fire resistance with only moderate weight added to your roof – and they can be recycled to protect the environment.

2. Shingle Life Span

Durability is as important a factor as performance because, after all, good protection that doesn’t last just means early replacement and greater cost. The warranty generally reflects the longevity of the shingle – it may not match it precisely, but it’s a good rule of thumb. So prefer shingles with 25 year and longer warranties.

Asphalt shingles usually last 20 to 25 years or longer, depending on the brand and the grade. You can get the longest durability out of clay tiles (but they can chip because of brittleness) and concrete and slate (but they are a lot more expensive). Metal roofing can be moderate to long in lifespan, and cedar and redwood have moderate durability.

3. Installation Cost

To determine the cost of materials, you first get the total square footage of your roof. You can get the number off a blueprint, or you can get a roofer to measure it for you. If it’s a simple shaped roof and you’re able to walk on your rooftop safely, you could just measure it yourself.

You have to add 10% to the square footage number to account for material waste because some are unavoidable. For a more cut up roof, maybe add 15% to be safe. Multiply that 110% number by the per-square-foot cost of each roofing material. Next, you have to get quotes from local roofing contractors so you can add in the labor costs.

4. Style & Color

Three-tab asphalt shingles are the standard, but you can also buy architectural asphalt shingles or ones with half-moon tabs instead of rectangles to add curb appeal. Many prefer the looks of wood shakes for their natural appeal, and clay tiles create a fabulous Southwestern look.

The style is very personal. There are many styles to choose from, but more with some shingle-types than others. Color should complement or nicely contrast with the siding color – but realize that darker colors tend to absorb more heat and retain it longer. Lighter colors will help to keep your attic cooler and may lower your monthly energy bill.

These are only four of the most important factors to consider when deciding among roofing shingle types. For additional advice, consult your roofer, and he will help you get a more detailed cost-benefit analysis on which to base your decision.

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