• Joseph Becker

Architectural Shingles: They're Not The Same!

The most frequent questions we are asked have to do with the materials and labor we're using for our customer's roof. On our information page we have a lot of pictures and descriptions of the process but there seems to be this misconception contractors are giving customers regarding 'architectural shingles'. Let's dive in!

First of all, not all architectural shingles are created equal. There's all different types of shingles but everyone's being sold on this architectural thing. Problem is, just because two brands look the same it doesn't mean that they are. For this demonstration let's consider the most common color out there called 'Weathered Wood'. It's a standard color that every brand has because it's a popular choice among builders and HOA's.

Now check this out this brand 'IKO'. Let me sell you on it for a second: It's a 30 year architectural shingle with great coloring, fiberglass inner core matting for durability, wind resistance, and algae resistance. (See for yourself HERE)

Doesn't look half bad, does it? Aha! Alrighty now check out GAF's shingle comparable shingle below.

With the exception of the lighting and photo conditions they look VERY similar. However one brand is builder grade and another is a premium shingle. One has been called by some a 'garbage shingle' and the other as highly reputable.


So let's say I sell you on this architectural idea and install IKO on your roof. No one's the wiser and honestly you'll probably never know the difference. But up on that asphalt there's more going on than meets the eye on the ground. Recent studies and tests show that IKO shingles lose their granules MUCH faster. It's just not a high quality 'architectural shingle'. IKO as a company is located in Brampton, Ontario and GAF is located in New Jersey.

We're doing our best to provide our customers with the best out there so we use GAF and not IKO. There's some other good brands out there such as Owens Corning and Certainteed which are priced about the same as GAF Timberline shingles. What we like about GAF is the consistency in their shingle quality and their customer service. We have a personal sales rep we know locally for them and they've been around since the 19th century.

I just would like to mention, there would be nothing unethical about installing IKO on your roof. Most of the roofs we are replacing from insurance work are all builder grade or worse yet, 20 year shingles. The insurance expects us to replace it with similar quality, we as a company like to step it up a notch and install the GAF shingle free of extra charge.

Let's do a cost breakdown on shingles. IKO vs GAF. We get our supplies from ABC Supply Co and Superior Distribution but those prices are privately held by them so we'll use the similar prices you can find at Home Depot.

REMEMBER: The estimate is broken down into two parts, materials and labor. Shingles make up about 30% the cost of just the materials. For a full list of all the materials please visit our information page!

Let's say your roof is 30 Squares (SQ) (3,000 SQ Feet). There are 3 bundles of shingles in 1 SQ.


(Approx) $22/Bundle (Approx) $30/Bundle

$22 x 3 bundles per SQ= $66/SQ $30 x 3 bundles per SQ =$90/SQ

$66 x 30 SQ = $1,980 $90 x 30 = $2,700

Just for shingles (not including the ridge cap, or starter strip or other materials) IKO is almost $1,000 cheaper. When you add up all the other materials which make up the other 70% of the cost of the materials list, that all adds up. It's probably safe to say that by using IKO we could save $2,000 on any job.

So why are we using GAF and spending the extra couple thousand dollars out of our pocket when we could be ethically selling the cheaper IKO and making a much higher profit? That's simple-- we are constantly trying to deliver the best to our customers and GAF is the best we can deliver within our means. (Consider also that the insurance is already only paying us the minimum they can pay on an already builder grade roof).

All in all, not all architectural shingles are the same. So don't get so sold on the idea of architectural, it has a lot more to do with the brand and where it's coming from ;) Just because they look the same doesn't mean they are because let me tell you, if they were the same we wouldn't be spending the extra money as a business for GAF! There's a big difference that we believe in and want to share with our customers.

That being said, it's better to have a cheap shingle with expert labor than a premium shingle with cheap labor. But, that'll have to be another post. Cheers! :)

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