I’ll be quick to answer this somewhat biased answer because I know you are dying to know which shingles are the best on the market today. In my opinion, the absolute best value is in the Atlas Pinnacle Pristine Shingle with a close second being the Certainteed Landmark Pro Shingle.
Now let me break down my thoughts and reasoning.
First I say that the answer is somewhat biased because I have installed and sold 90% of the shingles available in the country and formed my own opinion. My opinions, however, are heavily supported by a ton of 3rd party studies and organizations confirming my choice for best shingle on the market today.
This is what I look for in a quality shingle.
- Shingle weight
- Shingle thickness
- Shingle warranty
- The strength of the adhesive strip
- The copper content for algae resistance
- A wide nail zone for accuracy during the install
Some of these items are not always considered by 3rd parties that test the shingles in laboratories. My experience is from actually handling these products and being involved in the installation of them.
Why do I care about weight and thickness?
Weight and thickness speak to the overall durability of the shingles. The thicker and heavier they are, generally the more abuse they can take from the sun, wind, rain, snow, hail, flying debris, etc. Many of the “big box” type shingle brands such as GAF, Owens Corning and Tamko reduce their weight and thickness to increase profitability and decrease raw material usage. I am not saying that these companies do not have good products, I am just being as transparent as I can be with you.
What should I look for in a shingle warranty?
Let’s get real for a minute…. Every company in the world that sells a product attempt to make their product great to the consumer. They are generally going to highlight their strengths and sweep their weaknesses under the rug. Well, this is honestly where a lot of that activity is taking place, the warranty and fine print is the “rug” that the details get swept under.
90%+ of the manufacturer shingle warranties have a lot of confusing jargon and charts that make really good reading material if you need to fall asleep. The biggest sales gimmick I see from shingle manufacturers is the term “LIFETIME SHINGLE” or something similar. This term “lifetime” is misused in my opinion because some manufacturers consider lifetime to be 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. If you just heard the word “Lifetime warranty”, you and I both would assume that meant the lifetime of us or as long as the house is standing, this is not the case.
The other major issue I see with most manufacturers is that they begin to pro-rate their shingles warranty at the 10 year mark, that’s not the worst part… They immediately move the pro-ration to where it cuts your roof warranty in half when it really should be cut only by about a third. Just be mindful of these items when you are buying shingles. I suggest the Atlas Pinnacle Pristine shingle because their warranty is a 50 year, true proration model, pro-rates at 15 years instead of 10, and has lifetime algae growth resistance backed by 3M Scotchgard. This is absolutely the best warranty I have seen on the market.
The adhesive strip
The adhesive strip is what makes your shingles lay down flat and stay down when wind comes through your neighborhood. Brands like Tamko, Owens Corning, and IKO typically have minimal adhesive on the underside of their shingles and are fairly simple to lift after they have sealed down. Manufacturers that have great adhesive strips are GAF, Atlas, Certainteed & Malarkey, that means these shingles are going to seal down tight and for a long period of time, this decreases the likelihood that you have wind damage or leaks in the future. Atlas takes this a step further, they install the adhesive on the top of the lower shingle so that it sticks to a perfectly smooth underside of the above shingle. This technique is unique and it increases the wind resistance in a big way.
Copper and zinc content in the granules-
If you purchased a shingle roof today and you live in the Midwest, South, Southeast regions of the United States, in approximately 5-8 years you are going to start seeing a dark algae film or black streaks on your relatively new roof. This issue looks terrible and makes your house look old and worn out. In many cases, the buyers of your home will see the old worn out looking roof and begin to try and negotiate a price reduction because the roof looks old and they are not wanting to incur that cost.
The reason that algae grows on shingles is due to the limestone in the granules, they enjoy eating it. In order to prevent algae growth, copper and or zinc are put into the granule mixture and applied to the top of the shingles. Most manufacturers only have an algae resistance warranty for 5-10 years, you might find one that has 15 years like The Certainteed Landmark Pro shingle but that’s not very long. Atlas is the only shingle manufacturer that offers a 50 year (lifetime) guarantee that algae will not grow on your roof, it is backed by 3M Scotchgard, a pretty big household name!
Wide nail zones
This one may not seem like a big deal at all but it’s actually a huge deal. When installing a roof with nail guns, ropes, harnesses, blazing heat, exhaustion, it’s possible that the installer may miss the nail zone on the shingle. This could result in a low nail which can cause leaks or to high nail and drastically reduce your wind resistance, these are both big issues for you as the property owner. GAF, IKO and Atlas do nice jobs on making their nail zones a little wider than normal to increase installation accuracy, thus reducing future issues for you, the owner.
Don’t just take my word for it, lookup the Altas Pinnacle Pristine shingle reviews and tests done by the IBHS or over at Roofing Insights. Please know that this article was written from an honest and fair position, there are several good shingle manufacturers out there today. I am not trying to twist your arm, but I am strong in my belief that Atlas makes the overall best shingle available today. I hope this insider info helps you make the right decision when it comes to you and your new roof.
Mikel Miller, Co-Owner