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Handyman: More than asphalt roofing shingles

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

If you are in the market for a new roof, in most cases you will choose asphalt roofing shingles in a style and color that matches your home. But depending on your budget and type of house, there are many more options to consider.

Asphalt shingles are most common for residential applications, in part because they are the least expensive shingle option available. The good news is that shingle manufacturers have greatly improved the style options available.

“The typical three-tab shingle that used to be popular is hardly used anymore, and there are lots of designer asphalt shingles that look like more expensive styles such as wood shake, slate or tile,” said Chris Gentile, a roof field specialist for Building Roof Management,

Gentile said while the cost and numerous shingle styles are the major benefits of asphalt, the downside is the warranty. “Many manufacturers say their shingles will last 50 years, but in reality the average roof will generally get 15-20 years of life,” Gentile said. “So it is important for homeowners to look at the reality of a roof shingle’s life versus expectations.”

However, considering most people are living in a home between 10 and 12 years these days before they move, they likely won’t need to use the warranty.

Certainteed,, GAF,, and Owens-Corning, are popular brands of asphalt roof shingles.

While asphalt shingles are still the most popular, there are plenty of other options to choose from if you have a larger budget.

You often see slate roof shingles on older homes, and Gentile said the biggest benefit is that they can last 50-100 years. But they are very expensive and need to be installed or repaired by qualified professionals.

“If you have a slate roof, a homeowner can’t walk on it to repair anything on the roof because you can easily break the tiles,” Gentile said. “So you have to hire a skilled professional if you are having a new one installed or repairing an old one.”

The good news is that there are synthetic slate shingles available today made from polymers or similar resins that look like slate but at about half the cost.

Other high end options include wood shingles or shakes, and clay and concrete roof tiles.

Some manufacturers of synthetic products include Authentic Roof,, DaVinci Roofscapes, and Tamko Building Products,

One roofing product that is often looked at as an alternative to asphalt shingles today is metal.

“Metal shingles are generally made from either galvanized steel or aluminum and can even mimic wood or slate,” Gentile said. “Galvanized steel is better but the paint can wear off in 20-30 years, and painting it is costly.”

Gentile said generally a high-end asphalt shingle will cost around $180 a roofing square (which equates to approximately 100 square feet) while a metal shingle will be $60 to $70 a square more. The installation on these roofs is also considerably more than an asphalt roof.

“While the cost for installation of metal roofs has come done, it is still expensive and therefore these roofs still cost between 50 percent and 70 percent more than a quality asphalt roof,” he said.

No matter which roofing product you choose, there is one thing homeowners always need to consider.

“No matter which type of shingle you choose, it is important to get a highly qualified professional contractor to install the roof,” Gentile said.

That’s why I always suggest hiring a roofing contractor that is recognized or certified by the shingle manufacturer to install their products. That way there won’t be a warranty issue in the future if you do have a problem.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 from 8-10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.