Guide to Laying Architectural Shingles

shingles on a roof
  • 8-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 2,500-9,000

Architectural shingles are not difficult to install, look good and have a forty-year warranty. They are a high-quality shingle that is heavier than most and will last much longer than many other types. Another advantage of using architectural shingles is, they do not need any extra support, underneath the actual roof itself, which is why they are often used by building contractors, especially on larger homes. There are two main types of shingles available. The regular type, which must be nailed down, and an interlocking kind. Interlocking shingles are easy and fast to install.

What Are They Made Of?

Architectural shingles have a much heavier mat base than regular asphalt shingles. This is why they are much stronger. The base is a mixture of asphalt and fiberglass (or organic materials). Colored mineral granules are layered on top and the backs are treated with a special coating. There has been consistent research to improve the quality and expand the number of textures available. Since the Seventies, when the architectural shingle was first introduced. Today, there are many new kinds available, and a wide selection of colors and textures. Some are patterned to look like slate, tiles, and even Cedar shakes.


Architectural shingles can handle up to 120mph winds, and many other extreme weather conditions. The mineral top coat makes them highly resistant to heat, including fire. The heavier the shingle is, the more resistant they are. In a humid climate, or in areas that are susceptible to large volumes of rain, architectural shingles can be prone to mildew and algae problems. This can damage the shingle. However, some manufacturers have gotten around the problem by adding copper. Even so, this solution has come with a big price tag.

Replace or Repair?

Architectural shingles are not suitable if the slope of the roof is less than 2 inches per foot. For roofs with a slope of 2 inches to 4 inches, extra underlay is needed to ensure water does not seep through. If water accumulates along the eaves, because of problems with ice weather, a waterproof layer is also needed underneath. If a few shingles become damaged, they can be replaced. Architectural shingles can be laid as a new installation, or as a replacement. It is better to remove an old installation, before applying architectural shingles.

The Basics

Installing architectural shingles is the ultimate phase of a roofing job. It is important to lay a starter strip when you begin. This provides a waterproof backing, which stops the roof leaking. To make sure the fascia is protected, always lay the first shingle with a 1/8 inch overhang. Begin installation from the bottom left, working to the right. Ensuring each row overlaps the last. Staggering the shingles will also help to keep the water out. Be aware of the fundamentals, and your architectural shingles will not only look good, but they will also last a lifetime.