It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, material concerns and perhaps aesthetic style aside, shingles are shingles. While there was certainly a time when this was true, that time was nearly a century ago, and over a hundred years of material sciences and innovations have resulted in the shingle is one of the most diverse and varied roofing and siding materials in existence.

Shingles have something of an unfair reputation as a bland, “common” material that can only ever look plain and devoid of dimensionality. They also have an equally unfair reputation of being flimsy, cheap materials that don’t last. Today, we’re going to talk about not only the fact that a shingle’s ability to “break down” is a boon to roof reparability but even more so, a special kind of shingle that epitomizes extended quality in all respects.

What sort of shingle would this be, what makes it special, and what do these “extended” quality attributes bring to the table? Well, the answer to the first part is, architectural shingles. The other two, however, require a bit more discussion to answer. First thing’s first, though. Why are shingles the way they are, and what’re the basic principles behind them?

The Concept of Shingles

Shingles are designed to be readily-replaced, so while you never want to find cracked, bare, or warped shingles, they’re designed to accept this kind of damage and be easily removed, to be replaced with new ones. This is an advantage versus having to remediate a lot of material for otherwise superficial damage.

Shingles are usually a fiber material with an adhesive back, and an asphalt and crushed stone surface. They can take on many styles and shapes within a basic principle and can take on many different colors as well. Architectural shingles are basically an enhanced, doubled-down version of the base concept.

Architectural Shingles in a Nutshell

So, what’s different with architectural shingles that makes them stand out? It’s a number of things, actually. Primary among these are their composition, which doubles up on the layers of fiber and the layers of asphalt, producing a much thicker, much more durable shingle that lasts considerably longer and provides superior resistance to the ravages of nature and the environment.

This also allows for them to be made into more interesting textures and forms, which makes them very ideal for older homes where “antique” styles and superior protection are required. This also means they’re very common on smaller commercial pitched roofs, which must comply to greater durability, safety and sustainability regulations than with standard three-tab shingles on residential homes.

These shingles are generally laid out in a somewhat more unique way, with redundant, overlapping layers which provide a tighter seal, not unlike the scales of a fish, or the feathers on a bird. This reduces the chances of water damage and provides a far superior seal to contain climate control and discourage pests.

Longer Life

Of course, those are just the basics and a few immediate benefits with these shingles. Additional benefits include a considerably longer lifespan. Traditional three-tab shingles may last between twenty to forty years, depending on the material and climate. Conversely, many architectural shingles – especially ones made with the newest modern materials – can last half a century, possibly longer.
This means they require less maintenance, and while they’re initially quite a bit more expensive, their longevity makes up for it in a reduced number of replacements and repairs necessary.


Of course, the immediate downside to architectural shingles is their additional cost. Where a bundle of three-tab shingles costs about ten to fifteen dollars, it will cost closer to between fifty and seventy dollars for a bundle of architectural shingles.

However, unlike with many “luxury” materials, this cost isn’t an artificial thing, but rather a direct result of the higher-quality materials, and additional quantities thereof used in the making of these shingles. While the cost is initially higher all around, they become cheaper in the long run due to the previously-mentioned longevity and durability, which means less money is spent to maintain them in the long run.


Another disadvantage of architectural shingles is how heavy they are. They weigh about twice as much as three-tab shingles, which means they will cost more to install due to their labor-intensive nature and will require a much stronger minimal structure to support this weight, versus the cheaper alternative. If you live in an area where heavy ice and snow build up, this could be an even bigger issue if you’ve not got a strongly-reinforced structure on which to install these shingles.


Labor becomes an even more significant issue due to just how all-around difficult these shingles are to install, requiring heavier nails and more powerful tools, as well as requiring a lot more time due to the quantity and added layers involved. They’re not so difficult as to be a challenge for a skilled roofing contractor like JDT Construction, as we have many years of experience with these and many other high-end materials, however. But, the labor intensity of this process does reflect the cost to have it done, that cannot be helped.

Curb Appeal

Despite the expense and challenge of these shingles, durability and longevity aren’t the only reasons to give this material serious consideration. They can greatly improve the curb appeal of a structure due to their diversity. Multi-colored shingles or various diverse-styled shingles can add a dimensionality, personality, and depth to a roof that no other material can readily accomplish.

If you want to restore life to an aging building, or just want something long-lasting, reliable and absolutely beautiful, then you really should consider architectural shingles, before ruling shingles as a whole out. These materials are excellent for all climates, and come in just about any style you can imagine, meaning there’s an approach to these to suit any tastes or project type.

Want to know more about architectural shingles? Excellent. Fill out our contact form today, we’re excited to share!