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Types of Roofs

Each Material Has its Own

Unique Benefits
and Style


In the Northeast, we typically see two types of roofing materials used for residential homes: asphalt shingles, which are the most common due to their reasonable price and longevity and cedar shingles and shakes. Ultimately, it is up to the homeowner to decide which features and design are most appealing. Our Waltham roofers can help you choose the best types of roof materials for your home.


Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material across the United States. They are suitable for all climates, affordable, reliable, and available in many styles and colors. Asphalt shingles are a great choice for almost any home. With proper installation and maintenance, a high-quality asphalt shingle roof can last 15-30 years.

Asphalt shingles come in three main types:

All three types are installed in sheets and made from similar materials, but they have some important differences you should be aware of when choosing which will go on your roof.


3-Tab Shingles

3-tab shingles are the most basic example of asphalt shingles available. We often see 3-tab shingles on older homes or new “economy” homes, these are the lowest priced shingles you can buy and therefore may be the best choice for homeowners on a budget. Drawbacks to this type of shingle include limited aesthetic options; fewer color choices; a shorter lifespan of 10-20 years; and blow-off, a situation where shingles are blown off your roof in high winds or rough weather. However, 3-tab shingles have been losing ground in recent years as the popularity of architectural shingles and other roofing materials has increased.

Architectural Shingles

By far the most popular option, architectural shingles accounted for nearly 75% of all asphalt shingle sales in 2010 and have now nearly cornered the market. Architectural or dimensional shingles are extremely durable, have a multi-dimensional appearance and texture, and can last 30 years of longer. These shingles are made of two or more layers, which increases durability and longevity, and in turn leads to longer warranties of up to 50 years or lifetime guarantees. They also come in the widest variety of colors and styles. These shingles do come with a steeper price tag – homeowners should expect to pay about 20% more for the benefits of architectural shingles versus traditional 3-tab.

Luxury/Premium Shingles

Luxury or premium shingles offer maximum durability and protection and are designed to replicate the look of natural cedar and slate roofs at a fraction of the cost. Real cedar shakes or slate shingles are beautiful, but they are extremely expensive and the installation process is extensive. Luxury asphalt shingles, such as GAF Slateline, are a great alternative for your period home and can offer substantial savings over the real thing. They also come with the same 50+ year warranty and added durability over architectural shingles.


Cedar shingles or shakes are a quintessentially New England roofing material and have been used here for hundreds of years. The natural silvery-gray look they take on as they age is a favorite for coastal and historical homes. Cedar is an extremely durable, long-lasting wood, and generally lasts at least 10 years longer than traditional asphalt. It also stands up well to strong winds and extreme weather. Cedar roofs also provide natural home insulation, up to twice that of asphalt shingles. Cedar shingles come in white, yellow, and red wood and can be stained to your desired color. These shingles are installed one piece at a time, which allows for many patterns and styles. They are also eco-friendly and biodegradable, and each tree harvested to make these shingles is replaced with a new sapling.

Compared to other roofing materials, cedar shingles or shakes are more expensive to purchase and to install, and pricing tends to fluctuate quite a bit. As a natural product, they also require some additional maintenance to prevent moss, mold, and mildew growth. However, cedar, especially in New England, is a beautiful long-term investment for your home.

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