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What is the Most Affordable Roofing Material?

July 7th, 2023 | 6 min. read

What is the Most Affordable Roofing Material?

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No matter what roofing material you choose, a new roof is a large investment. But that doesn’t mean there isn't a roof for every budget. 

If you’re on a tighter budget, you’re probably looking for the most affordable roofing option. But what is it, and what do you need to know about it?

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided unbiased and transparent information, so homeowners have the power to make the right decisions. Now, I’ll help you determine if the most affordable roof is right for you. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • What is the most affordable roofing material?
  • What do you need to know about asphalt roofing?

What is the most affordable roofing material?

An asphalt shingle roof is the most affordable type of roofing material for a roof replacement. However, this is a pretty loaded answer because there are three types of asphalt shingles that each have a different price point. 

3 tab asphalt shingle roof(3-tab asphalt shingle roof)

3-tab asphalt shingles are the cheapest of the three types, but they’re starting to phase out of the industry (more on this in a minute). Architectural asphalt shingles cost more than 3-tab shingles but give you more life and better warranty options.

architectural asphalt shingle roof(Architectural asphalt shingle roof)

This affordability and quality are why they're the most common type of asphalt shingle (and roofing material in general) you see today. Last but not least, luxury shingles are the most expensive asphalt shingle option.

luxury asphalt shingle roof(Luxury asphalt shingle roof)

If you’re truly looking for affordability without sacrificing quality, I recommend going with architectural asphalt shingles. 

4 things to know about asphalt roofing

Now you know that an asphalt shingle roof is the most affordable roofing material. However, there’s much more to know about asphalt shingle roofing and the types of asphalt shingles. 

Let’s get to the 4 things every homeowner needs to know about asphalt shingle roofing. 

1. 3-tab asphalt shingles are being phased out of the roofing industry

3-tab asphalt shingles were the standard and dominated the residential roofing industry for a long time. However, manufacturers developed architectural asphalt shingles using improved technology. 

They are a higher quality roofing material and offer more benefits than 3-tab shingles. Because of this, 3-tab shingles are being phased out as architectural shingles become the standard in the roofing industry. 

Every 3-tab shingle isn’t disappearing overnight, which is why I use the phrase “phased out”. However, shingle manufacturers aren’t offering many color options, and some suppliers in your area may stop carrying them altogether.

2. How long an asphalt shingle roof lasts

On average, you can expect an asphalt shingle roof to last 20-25 years. However, the asphalt shingle you choose ultimately determines an asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan. 

3-tab asphalt shingles have a manufacturer-stated lifespan of 25 years and have the shortest lifespan of the three types. Architectural and luxury asphalt shingles both have a lifespan of 30 years.

While they have manufacturer-stated lifespans, you should realistically get around 80-85% of them. This means you can expect to get around 18-20 years out of 3-tab asphalt shingles and around 22-25 years out of architectural asphalt shingles. 

On the other hand, luxury shingles are thicker and should have no issues getting up to around 30 years. In perfect conditions, you can stretch that number even further.

Keep in mind that the lifespans above won’t be exact due to different factors that impact a roof’s life. But as long as your roof is installed properly, your attic is adequately ventilated, and you invest in quality materials, you should get the most out of an asphalt shingle roof. 

3. The warranties that come with an asphalt shingle roof

Each type of asphalt shingle comes out of the package with a warranty from the manufacturer. This material warranty is in place to protect your roof investment if there’s ever a problem with the shingles. 

The material warranty for 3-tab asphalt shingles is a 25-year warranty, while architectural and luxury shingles come out of the package with a 30-year prorated warranty. However, architectural and luxury shingles also have the opportunity to get the 50-year non-prorated enhanced warranty.

To get this enhanced warranty, all of your asphalt roofing components (including your asphalt shingles) have to come from one specific manufacturer to form a complete roof system. After installation, this warranty ensures the manufacturer protects your roof for the life of the roofing materials and components.

Just know that improper roof installation and inadequate attic ventilation void any material warranty the shingles have. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a high-quality roofing contractor to install your asphalt shingle roof. 

4. Asphalt shingle roofing needs routine roof maintenance

Just like every car needs maintenance, every roof needs maintenance. How much and how often you need maintenance depends on the roofing material.

With that in mind, asphalt shingle roofing requires at least an annual maintenance inspection. Roof maintenance is the best way to check your asphalt roof and ensure it’s functioning properly. 

It catches common roof problems and gives your roofing contractor a chance to fix them before they cause more expensive damage. Roof maintenance is also the chance to clear sitting debris from the roof, out roof valleys, and the gutter line. 

debris in a roof valley on an architectural asphalt shingle roof

Leaving this wet debris to sit on your asphalt shingles for prolonged periods of time saturates them and shortens their lifespan. Because of all this, I recommend having an asphalt shingle roof maintained at least once a year to maximize its lifespan. 

How do you choose the right type of asphalt shingle?

Now you know the 4 things every homeowner needs to know about asphalt roofing. You can’t go wrong with asphalt shingle roofing if you’re looking for the most affordable roofing material.

But as you just learned, you have three asphalt shingle options. The asphalt shingle you choose impacts how long your roof ultimately lasts, the warranty options, and, most importantly, the cost. 

This makes choosing the right asphalt shingle one of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your roof replacement. I want you and every homeowner to have confidence they're making the right decision.  

That’s why I wrote another article that helps you choose the right asphalt shingle based on your budget and what you want to get out of your roof investment.

Check out How to Choose My Asphalt Shingle to learn the questions you should ask yourself when deciding which one is right for you.

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