Asphalt Shingles

Everything you need to know about asphalt shingles and their cost.

Asphalt shingles have been around for over a century; they were innovative when they hit the market in 1901, and while their design and efficiency have developed over the years, the basics have remained the same.

The reason asphalt shingles have been around so long is that they meet almost all homeowner’s criteria; they are affordable, durable, and stylish.

In this article we will discuss various asphalt shingles and their cost, including: organic, fiberglass, traditional three-tab and architectural three tab.

The Basics of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are typically made with either organic material or with fiberglass. Organic mat shingles have nearly 50% more asphalt in them than fiberglass shingles, which makes them thicker and heavier, and thus, more expensive. On the other hand, the additional thickness means more durability than fiberglass shingles.

Either way, all shingle roofs should be thoroughly inspected after a heavy storm, because while they are very durable, they are still susceptible to weather damage.

While organic mat shingles are still commonly used, the trend is leaning heavily on fiberglass over organic. Fiberglass shingles are stronger and more durable than organic-based shingles; they are also lighter and thinner and usually come with longer warranties.

About Fiberglass Shingles

fiberglass-shinglesThe advantages of fiberglass shingles start with their cost. Relatively, fiberglass shingles have a low upfront cost, which makes them the most affordable option when it comes to short term expenses. Assuming the roof is installed correctly, you can expect the shingles to last approximately 15 years.

About Organic Asphalt Shingles

sampleAsphalt shingles are not immune to temperature fluctuations, extreme changes in temperature can cause the shingles to expand and contract in a way that will cause cracking. All shingle roofs should have regular maintenance done to ensure the integrity of the roof.

Asphalt based shingles are the most commonly installed shingles; but they are quickly becoming a thing of the past. They are designed on a paper back, covered in asphalt then topped with ceramic granules. Organic shingles are more resilient than fiberglass shingles but they not exactly the “green” choice as they are soaked in oil; which is also bad if fire is introduced into the equation.

One important  thing to note: Asphalt shingles tend to absorb more water, which means they can warp and begin to curl. So if you live in an area that sees a fair amount of rain or moisture, you may want to consider fiberglass shingles.

Moreover, Greenzo hates asphalt shingles; as a petroleum-based product, the manufacturing of them uses a lot of energy and discharges greenhouse gas emissions. Also, asphalt shingles don’t get recycled, so every time a roof is redone, the old shingles end up in the landfill.

Asphalt shingles are not designed to be environmentally friendly.

However, some companies are trying to change that by producing green and energy-efficient asphalt shingles. They use cool roof technology to create energy-efficient asphalt shingles.

Cool roof technology enables shingles to reflect more visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light from the sun. By reflecting these wavelengths, less heat is absorbed into the home. Cool roof shingles are commonly lighter in color, but some manufacturers have recently distributed darker shades. While cool roofs are more expensive than standard fiberglass shingles, the money you save on your air conditioning bill may offset the cost.

Three-Tab shingles vs Architectural shingles

Three-Tab shingles vs Architectural shingles

Three-Tab shingles

Asphalt shingles come in different styles, but the most common is the three-tab strip shingle. A strip shingle is simply a long strip of shingles, usually 3 times longer than it is tall. On a three-tab strip, there are cutouts or tabs along the lower edge, making the shingle appear as if it is made of three different parts. But it is actually one long piece, which means one strip covers a lot of area. Each strip is installed together, creating a flat roof.


Three-tab shingles are simple. They use fewer materials than architectural shingles and are, therefore, lighter and cheaper.


Three-tab shingles are flat and do not enhance the look of a home. Because they are thinner, they often need to be replaced sooner than architectural shingles. These types of shingles are common in lower-income areas where architectural shingles are too expensive, meaning a three-tab shingle will not increase the value of a house. Finally, three-tab shingles are becoming less popular than other styles.

Cost of Three Tab Shingles

Three-tab shingles are the most affordable shingles on the market. They usually range from $1.50 to $2.50 a square foot or as roofers would say $150 to $250 per roofing square. A roofing square is 100 square feet, and many roofers use this lingo instead of the layman’s traditional square foot. Three-tab shingles are more difficult to install than architectural shingles and may cost more in labor. A three-tab shingle roof, on a typical single-story house, will cost somewhere between $6,500 – $10,000.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are also known as three dimensional or laminated shingles. Instead of a flat sheet of shingles, these have cutouts and layers that vary in size and shape. The variety creates a dimensional look rather than the flat look the three-tab shingles make. Like the three-tab, architectural shingles are made with fiberglass and water-resistant asphalt. Architectural shingles are thicker and have more color variation. They are often installed in different sizes and color schemes to complement the house.


Architectural shingles look significantly different than the standard three-tab shingles. On an architectural shingle, the cutout or tabs are different sizes and shapes, which creates a more dimensional look, versus the flat look of the three-tab shingles. The dimensional look is not just a trick of the eye, but the shingle itself is actually 50% thicker than the three-tab shingle. The extra thickness means architectural shingles are expected to hold up to the weather better than three-tabs. This expectation usually means a more extended warranty. Architectural shingles give your home a more sophisticated look than the plain flat shingles. They are considered premium in comparison to three-tab shingles, so installing them will raise the value of a home. There are even some new designs that mimic the look of slate. Since the slate is synthetic, the weight is nominal in comparison to real slate, and the installation is significantly cheaper.


Architectural shingles are a lot heavier than three-tab shingles, weighing about 50% more than the average three-tab. The extra weight is due to the use of more materials. All of those materials cost money, making architectural shingles more expensive than three-tabs.

Cost of Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are more expensive than three-tab shingles, usually priced around $2.25 to $3.00 a square foot, or $225-$330 per roofing square. Architectural shingles are easier to install, so you may find the labor costs are slightly lower than with a three-tab roof. Architectural shingles on an average single-story home will cost somewhere between $7500- $11,000.


Cost of Organic Shingles

$50 — $130 per square for the singles
$100 — $150 per square for installation
$100 — $140 per square for removal of the current shingles

While asphalt shingles are a tad more expensive than fiberglass shingles, there in the same ballpark.

roofing square is the measurement we use in the roofing industry, it covers 100 square feet.

The price range for roofing installation and labor is so varied as all roofs are not created equal and require more work than others.

Cost of Fiberglass Shingles

$50 — $200 per square for the shingles
$70 — $180 per square for installation
$100 — $140 per square for removal of the current shingles

With fiberglass it’s best to pay a little more $50 per square for the shingles. These low end shingles will fail to stand the test of time. You’re better off spending around $70 — $85 per square on fiberglass shingles.

As mentioned with the cost for organic shingles, not all roofs are created the same, so pricing for installation varies for each home, but expect to pay less for installation than you would on organic shingles.

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Juan del Leon is the owner of Estrella Roofing Company in Phoenix, Arizona. He has severed Arizona since 1997 with repair and installation services. Throughout the years he has gained knowledge of of the industry and utilizes his website as a place to blog about his experiences and share his expertise.