Are there Different Grades of Roof Shingles?

Are there Different Grades of Roof Shingles?


Roofing shingles come in a variety of materials, sizes, and designs, with asphalt shingles being the most popular roofing material for homeowners. There are three common types of roof shingle grades. Scroll down to see the different grades and levels of performance.

Design of an Asphalt Shingle 

In its basic form, an asphalt shingle consists of mat or backing material made from either a cellulose material or fiberglass, with the latter being the most common. The asphalt mixture is the next level, which the backing material supports. Then, the roof sandwich is topped off with mineral granules that help protect the asphalt from sunlight since it can otherwise degrade. 

Roof Shingles Grading

The three typical grades are referred to as “good,” “better,” and “best.” 


The most common and least expensive is the “3-tab” shingles, which are 3 tabs that are quite flat without much thickness; they tend to have the shortest warranty of the three, but in a pinch, they fit well for your budget and will still last a few decades or more. They’re also the lightest and designed to withstand the elements. They’re recognized by their clean, horizontal appearance, giving them a more decorative look with the 3-tab construction. Fiberglass-backed shingles have a Class A fire rating, which is the highest available. It’s also pretty easy to install, meaning you can typically DIY it.


This grade of shingles is often seen as architectural shingles, better known as multi-dimensional, which adds to their texture and appearance. They’re thicker than the 3-tab kind and the thickness of three standard shingles, with some of the more premium products. They have more shapes, and because of their depth, gives them and the roof more visual texture. They typically have a longer warranty duration than the economical option of the 3-tab shingles, boasting about 30 or so years. They are more expensive than 3-tab shingles.


Luxury or sometimes called premium shingles, this type of grade is obviously the best. With maximum durability, the premium grade shingles are designed to replicate natural slate and cedar shake roofs without the higher price. What’s great about these shingles is that they create a multi-dimensional texture of luxury shingles, thus creating shadows and depths that look attractive. These shingles can last for upwards of 40 years or more.

The tradeoff of using the thicker premium shingles is that they are harder for contractors to install and increase the weight on your roof. So, if you are planning on placing new shingles over an old layer, ensure your roof structure can support the additional load with a reputable roofing contractor.

Need a New Roof? 

If you need to repair or replace your roof, give the Roof Doctor a call. With our new state-of-the-art TruSlate GAF shingles, you can expect the highest quality roofing shingles available. Contact us to learn more. 

What Causes Roof Shingles to Buckle?

roof with shingles buckling

Well, that’s definitely NOT good! What’s going on here?

This is what we call buckling. Shingle buckling is one of those awful things that can happen to a roof through no fault of anyone. It is caused as a result of the movement of the wood roofing deck or wrinkling of the underlayment. And this is a serious problem because if minor buckling is not addressed, it could require a full roof replacement.
roof with shingles buckling

Common Reasons for Buckling

Most roofing companies in Salt Lake City, Utah have experience with this issue. But what causes it? Here are the most typical reasons:

  • Exposed deck: When the old roof is torn off, the wood deck is exposed. When there is a high percentage of humidity in the air, the wood can absorb some of this moisture. As the moisture content in the wood increases, it case cause the deck to shift and move.
  • Wet underlayment: As a new roof is being installed, if too much moisture is absorbed by the underlayment, it can cause the felt to wrinkle.
  • Improper venting: If your attic does not have enough vents to allow for the circulation of air through your attic space, the hot air will have no way to escape, and can make the wood shift or the underlayment wrinkle. Higher insulation levels may necessitate additional vents.
  • Roof sheathing: If your roof deck is not spaced adequately (a minimum of ⅛” between boards), the natural expansion and contraction of the wood will cause the shingles to buckle.
  • Improper materials: If wood decking has not been properly conditioned to be at moisture equilibrium with the environment in which the job is being completed, the natural expansion or contraction can cause buckling. This is a roofing manufacturer’s approval that must be met.
  • Improper installation: Failure to apply shingles as directed by the shingle manufacturer’s recommendations.

If you see anything looking off with the way your shingles are laying, give your trusted roofing contractor a call and have your roof checked out right away.

Granular Retention: How to Make Roof Shingles Last Longer

granular retention roof shingles
I’m willing to bet that you didn’t even know that granular retention was a thing you want in your life, did you? Since you didn’t know, but definitely want it, let me explain so you at least know why.

What is Granular Retention?

Granular retention is the concept that the shingles on your roof should hold on to, or retain, the granules that are embedded on them. These granules play a crucial role in the overall roofing system for three main reasons:
  1. They provide protection to the asphalt layer of the shingles from UV rays.
  2. They provide fire resistance.
  3. They provide the aesthetic appearance (color) of the roof.
Those are three pretty big reasons for wanting the granules to stay on the shingle!

Granules and Shingle Health

During the manufacturing process, producers apply up to 40% more granules to the shingles than are necessary. Because of the overload, it is estimated that 12% - 15% of the granules do not fully adhere to the shingle, which results in granular loss before the shingle ever makes it to your roof. This shows that granular loss does not always indicate damage; the presence of loose granules simply means weathering has occurred. And granules are meant to be shed over the useful life cycle of asphalt shingles. So you shouldn’t be alarmed when you see some granules in your gutters occasionally - especially right after having a new roof installed. Below the granules, the asphalt layer of the shingle will disintegrate quickly without protection from the UV rays of the sun. This will result in an accelerated rate of wear on the roof, as exposed shingle substrate will start to absorb moisture quicker than shingles with granular protection. To add value to their product, most shingle manufacturers have already or are currently developing technology to stop premature shedding of granules - a.k.a. granular retention technology. See, I told you (that you had granular retention)!

When Shedding Granules is a Problem

Despite efforts by manufacturers to slow the natural loosening of granules over time, there are some other factors that can cause a rapid, problematic release of granules. These factors would cause severe enough damage that it would warrant action by the homeowner to repair the roof - widespread issues across the entire roof could even require roof replacement. The main reasons for this would include hail damage and a defective roofing product. But the potential problems are too numerous to mention here, and none are risking if you can avoid it (which you can, by having your roof regularly inspected and maintained). Long story short: you shouldn’t be surprised to see a slow, gradual loss of the granules on your roof. But you should be alarmed if you see the white fiberglass peeking through, if you see widespread granule loss, or if you see cracking, blistering or any other obvious damage to the shingles.

What to Do If You Spot Problems

If you notice damage to shingles or a large amount of granules that have come loose, contact the Roof Doctor. We’ll come out and inspect your roof and give you a clear idea of what your options are. Our team works hard to keep your roof in its best condition!