Welcome to the Roofing Insights 2020 Roofing Shingles Guide!
Over the last three months, we’ve been testing eight different asphalt shingles to see how they stack up against one another and which is this year’s top dog
We’ve been testing and comparing shingles for four years now, and this year, we spent more time researching and testing than all the other years combined. It’s our most exhaustive study yet.
We even changed our ranking system from prior years. This year, we ranked shingles on a 5-star ranking scale—the most popular ranking system today.
To kick off our study, we contacted representatives from each manufacturer to decide which product we will be testing of theirs. We wanted to ensure that we were comparing apples to apples, so we chose the best sellers and most popular shingles on the market from each brand.
The Asphalt Shingle Participation Field
The field of participants include:
- BP Vanguard
- Pabco Premier
- Malarkey Highlander
- IKO Dynasty
- Owns Corning Duration
- Tamko Heritage
- Atlas Pinnacle
- Certainteed Landmark
Some of you may be wondering why GAF Timberline is not listed here. We reached out to GAF to see if they were interested in participating in this study, but they did not respond. If that changes, we will update this post to include their ranking.
The eight asphalt shingles were then put to the test in the following categories:
- Nail zone
- Pull test
- Count per bundle/consistency
- Online reputation
- Granule loss
- Contractors programs, education, resources
- Sealant test
- Warranty issues, class actions
We chose categories based on what is most important for both homeowners and installers. As you can see, we avoided categories such as looks and curb appeal because most of the shingles have extremely similar aesthetics and designs.
We also avoided pricing because these brands don’t have control over the prices, as roofing shingles are sold to distributors who decide what the price is.
Asphalt Shingle Weight
Weight is not an absolute criterion for what makes a great shingle. You can have a lighter shingle that still performs well. However, we believe that thick shingles tend to be more durable. While it is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to what makes a great shingle, it can be a solid indicator of the quality you can expect.
Atlas Pinnacle, IKO Dynasty, and Certainteed Landmark all performed well in this category, with each of them receiving a 5 out of 5.
All other shingles received a 4.
Weight Test Data
The nailing zone is an extremely important factor in the quality of the shingle. The nailing zone should be big and visible so that installers don’t miss it while installing the shingle.
The nailing zone is also an important factor when it comes to warranties. If the manufacturer comes to your home to check up on a warranty claim, they may deny the claim if the shingles were not properly nailed through the nailing zone. The more difficult it is to see the zone, the more likely the installer will miss it, causing the shingles to blow off.
Top performers in this category were Malarkey Highlander, IKO Dynasty, and Owns Corning Duration—all receiving 5s.
The lowest-performing shingle for the nailing zone was Tamko Heritage, which received a 3. Its zone was difficult to locate, making installation more difficult than it needs to be.
Next up, we have the pull test, which OC Duration and IKO Dynasty performed very well in. Rounding out the bottom for the pull test are BP Vanguard and Tamko Heritage, which both scored 3s and were easy to pull off, therefore not inspiring a lot of confidence in that area.
Pull Test Data
The common rule of thumb with shingle coverage is that three bundles equate to cover one square of the area of a roof. However, this isn’t always the case.
IKO Dynasty, Atlas Pinnacle, and Malarkey Highlander all scored 5s in this category (with Malarkey actually going slightly above and beyond that one square area). All other shingles scored 4s.
Count Per Asphalt Shingle Bundle
We also took into consideration the consistency of the bundles. Not all bundles are the same. Usually, it takes 64 shingles to cover one square. Malarkey uses three bundles, each with 22 shingles. Therefore they received a 5 for this category.
IKO Dynasty uses 20 pieces, but they get about the same coverage as Malarkey and are very consistent as well, earning them a 5. Pabco Premier also received a 5.
Count Per Bundle Test Data
Online Reputation Of Asphalt Shingle Brands
For this category, we looked online for reviews from homeowners and contractors, as well as whether or not the manufacturer was open to feedback—whether positive or negative.
Only Pepco and Atlas enabled Facebook reviews, which is a risk as they are opening themselves up to unwarranted criticisms. However, because they are willing to do that, they each received 5s.
Malarkey also received a 5 in this category because we found mostly positive reviews and will remedy issues from customers without delay.
Tamko, IKO, and Certainteed all received 3s for online reputation, as they had issues with reviews, customer claims, and customer service.
Online Reputation Test Data
Some manufacturers are doing a great job in the granule loss, while others… not so much.
IKO received just 1 star for this category, as their shingles shed a lot. While IKO scored relatively well across the board, they took a big hit with their poor rating here. Both Certainteed and Pabco received 3s.
The top performers in this category include Owns Corning Duration, BP Vanguard, and Tamko Heritage.
Granule Loss Test Data
Contractors Programs, Education, Resources
For the most part, the manufacturers all did fairly well when it comes to educating those that are using their products.
Only Pabco (4), Tamko (3), and BP (4) scored poorly here. All the other brands received 5s, as they put effort and resources into ensuring that the contractors that they work with use their shingles correctly.
5s across the board here! We didn’t find any issues with any of the shingles we tested for.
We spent a ton of time on this category, looking for class actions, exclusions, and any of the B.S. from these manufacturers’ fine print.
Pabco, Tamko, and BP all received 3s here, while every other brand scored well with either a 4 or 5.
Malarkey Highlander comes out in first place here, with an average of 4.7 stars across every category. Malarkey has always been a consistent presence in our yearly shingle reviews, and we were not surprised to see them once again atop the list here. This is a high-shingle that will not disappoint.
OC Duration and Atlas Pinnacle tied, with a 4.6 average star-rating apiece—just barely behind Malarkey. These two shingles are also excellent options and deserve to be held in very similar regard as the Highlander.
Finishing just behind them is Pabco Premier, with a 4.1 average star rating. Rounding out the bottom, we have BP Vanguard with a 4.0 average and Tamko, which finished last with a 3.7 average star rating.
We hope that you have a better idea of which shingle you’ll want to use on your next roofing project! And, make sure to watch the entire video breakdown so you can see why each manufacturer received the scores it did.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which asphalt shingles held up best to a pull test?
We found both OC Duration and IKO Dynasty shingles held up better than the other brands we tested. BP Vanguard and Tamko Heritage scored the lowest in this area.
Of the shingles you tested, which weighed the most?
The heaviest shingles included in this test were Atlas Pinnacle, Certanteed Landmark, and IKO Dynasty. They weighed in at 82.4lbs, 76.9lbs, 75.2lbs consecutively.
What factors did you test to determine the best asphalt shingles for this year?
There are ten overarching quality tests we run on each shingle manufacturer. They are as follows: Weight, Nail Zone, Pull Test, Coverage, Count Per Bundle, Online Reputation, Granule Loss, Contractor Programs, Sealant Test, & Warranty Test.