How to Select the Best Type of Asphalt Shingles for your DIY Project when shopping at your local or Home Depot or Lowe’s home improvement store or Online:
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We’ll save you the trip to each store (and gas) by providing the following details: Retail Cost per bundle of shingles, Best Options for DIY Roofing projects, and overview of each product/brand
Before we get into the details of how to select the best type of roofing shingles, let’s first discuss the general options that home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot have to offer. Both offer a popular brand GAF. With Home Depot, it is about 80% of what they carry in terms of the available asphalt shingle choices, and with Lowe’s, it’s roughly two thirds of their total offerings for asphalt shingles.
Lowe’s also carries Owens Corning which is another popular brand comprising about one third of their available products. Home Depot’s other option is the Onduvilla brand, which of the three mentioned so far is the newest one. Home Depot doesn’t offer this product in their stores, but does make it available for online purchasing. The Onduvilla shingles are not the typical type. They specialize in what is known as 3D shingles, which have a wavy pattern and are possible to be used as a stand-alone type shingle (like the popular types), but is more or less geared toward building owners with a metal roof that might benefit from this as an additional layer of roofing. Because of how atypical this product is, we won’t be including it as part of the selection process, but we did wish to mention it as a high end option. The Onduvilla shingles cost about $50 per bundle, with 10 pieces in each bundle.
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Both stores provide all the accessories to make for a full roofing system. Below, we list the costs for each option, along with the required components. We won’t provide costs for flashing as that varies in purpose, and it’s therefore best to discuss with either a professional contractor or store specialist to make sure you are obtaining the most suitable product for the job. Note: in many cases, prices on the products are almost exactly the same between the two stores. However, when this is not the case, we are providing the lowest cost from either store, and if there is significant difference, we’ll let you know.
Leak barrier / Underlayment material
- GAF WeatherWatch Leak Barrier (aka Underlayment) = $49.50 for 150 sq.ft. roll
- Grace Roll Roofing Underlayment = $138.00 for 225 sq.ft. roll
- GAF Pro-Start Black Starter Shingles = $36.90 for 120 linear feet
- Owens Corning Starter Shingles Black = $22.60 for 100 linear feet (through Lowe’s)
- GAF Cobra Ridge Low Profile Exhaust Vent = $49.00 for 20 ft. roll
- GAF Cobra 3 (Plastic) Ridge Exhaust Vent = $82.30 for 4 ft. piece
- Owens Corning VentSure Plastic Roll Ridge Vent = $60.10 for 20 ft. roll
Ridge and Hip Shingles
Note: There are many offerings in this category that are basically matching brand of shingles and color together, so best to check the site for exact desired products
- GAF Ridge shingles range from $40 to $70 for about 20 to 25 linear feet
- Owens Corning Ridge shingles range from $36 to $58 for 20 to 33 linear feet (through Lowe’s)
If you don't feel like driving to either of the stores and would rather Shop Online:
Next comes the selection process for asphalt shingles and the websites use very similar layouts and methods for filtering down to top choices. Our suggested process for selecting shingles and how to navigate each website is:
1. Decide on the type of shingle you want. The 2 popular types again are laminated or tabbed. 3-tab being the traditional shingle type and standard for tabbed shingles. Architectural shingles are easily the most popular offering through either store, with around 90% of what Home Depot offers being in this style and 67% of what Lowe’s has in stock is laminated asphalt shingles.
2. Color and Shape selection. Not necessary to nail this down as a second step, but is likely how you’ll browse for products once type is selected. With 3-tab shingles, the shape is fairly basic (rectangular) varying only slightly among brands. With Architectural shingles, there are many varieties in shape, such as rectangular, square, rounded corners, overlapping corners, oval, etc. With colors there are more options with Architectural than 3-tab, and multi-color shingles are one possible option with Architectural. There are essentially 12 color options between the 2 stores, but like all things color, the shades between the two manufacturers are not likely to be the exact same hue.
3. Brand is selection item that has to appear somewhere on this list, but is perhaps best revisited after reviewing our next section. Keep in mind, with Home Depot, GAF is the primary brand for standard shingles while Lowe’s carries GAF (mostly) and Owens Corning (some). There are certainly many other brands of shingles available, but these are the main products currently available at the two retail stores.
When any specific model is selected on the site, the layout on each sales page is uniform and includes helpful information such as follows:
pictures of the product, along with possible additional media such as video or diagrams related to that line of specific model. Both retail stores have a GAF produced video that is a great DIY primer
price (per bundle) - more on this below
availability or how to get product - whether product is now in stock at store nearest to you, or if you’d want it delivered to that store, or delivered to your home
product description and specifications - fairly self explanatory, though we’d suggest getting familiar with specifications as that would matter possibly when comparing products
Ratings / Reviews - on Home Depot, products tend to be heavily reviewed, much more so than Lowe’s. How much weight you put in other customer reviews is up to you. We feel it’s better to have reviews available than not, as commentary here can help understand what you can expect to receive and is generally written in laypeople terms
Q&A section - in case you have questions or are finding certain info on the product page lacking and wish to see if an answer is provided for that
Guides and Info are the downloadable files the manufacturer provides to help understand installation and warranty information.
Share and Save buttons for products who may wish to come back to (Save) or email the product page to another person (Share)
Color Selector - most shingle products have multiple color options
The specification area is roughly the same on both sites, and is where technical details for each product are noted. This includes information such as:
shingle length and width
how much (or if) the product is resistant to Fire, Wind, Hail, Algae
Energy Star Rating - most asphalt shingle products are not energy efficient, but this would note which products are specially designed for efficiency
and then the obvious items like type of shingle and color
The last may seem unnecessary as you’d already have filtered items along shingle type and color, but the whole selection process, on either site, benefits from the Compare feature. Ticking a checkbox to note 2 or more products you wish to compare, and then when ready to see only those selected products, hit the ‘Compare’ button (that is likely found at top of your browser). This then shows each product you checked, side by side with primary emphasis on the Specifications of each.
While your selection method might be different to get to the same point, we believe the Compare tool is one of the best ways to go about making selections. To summarize the steps in short order, it is:
Filter results in way that makes most sense for you, or follow our suggestion(s)
Review Product pages for any shingles that appeal to you
Review the Grid layouts (listing multiple products) to review all filtered products and to Compare multiple products
Cost, of course can be a primary factor when it comes to selecting products. With over 200 products to choose from, it’s not easy to list all the price options and make that useful in an article such as this. So, let’s go with price ranges. Minus the Onduvilla offerings (via Home Depot) the range is roughly the same between the two stores for standard asphalt shingles, with Architectural shingles costing more, but not much.
3-Tab shingles generally cost $23 to $27 per bundle. When purchased in smaller quantities, Lowe’s is less expensive than Home Depot, yet Home Depot does have bulk pricing (36 bundles or more) that when factored in makes their prices less than what Lowe’s advertises.
Architectural shingles fall in the range of $25 to $35 per bundle. The ones that cost more than $35 are for different shapes or extra coatings for added protection. Home Depot doesn’t have a laminated shingle that is more than $37 whereas Lowe’s does, but Lowe’s carries far more products, or has a greater selection.
Just a reminder that these costs are per bundle, and there are generally about 3 bundles in a square (100 sq. ft.), with the average home having about 16 squares of roof surface. Also remember to plan for 1 additional square to account for waste during installation (the pros do!).
One interesting thing about the Home Depot product selection pages (for all GAF shingle products) is the direct link to the GAF website. Lowe’s doesn’t seem to have this. Having a link to GAF isn’t all that interesting, but what it actually is linking to is. On the Home Depot site, under “Product Overview” is picture that is clickable and hyperlinked to the GAF site. Yet, it is not the GAF home page, and instead is affiliate type link that is essentially set up to market products through a GAF portal specifically for Home Depot. Here is example link to help make it more clear. For the most part, the page appears like one big advertisement with links at the bottom, that: help locate nearest Home Depot store, provide way to visualize product, and provide installation services of GAF products on your home, via Home Depot contract services. If going strictly with DIY installation, perhaps the last part is not of interest to you, but for some, it would be worth checking out.
Roofing Manufacturers - Additional Information
In the article so far, we’ve mentioned 3 manufacturers of asphalt shingles which carry products via local home improvement retail stores. There are more brands than these. Other popular manufacturers include: CertainTeed, Tamko, IKO and Atlas.
In our review of a couple of these other popular brands websites, we see what is essentially the norm, where the manufacturer’s make their products available at local building supply stores including Beacon Supply, ABC Supply, Bradco, and Harvey's Industries. These stores are geared more towards professional contractors.
Each manufacturer site lays things out a bit differently, but the information is about the same. The products that each carry look similar, but each is looking to provide competitive advantage for the lines their brand holds. Because Owens Corning and GAF are, in our opinion, more geared toward the DIY approach, we’ll spend a few moments with additional information noted on their websites.
GAF is one of the most established manufacturers around, founded in the late 1800’s. The others started some time in the 1900’s. Owens Corning was established in 1938. Both of these companies provide more than just residential roofing products, and are boasting annual revenues in the billions of dollars. Both GAF and Owens Corning (and likely the other popular brands) indicate on their sites how to go about finding an affiliated contractor who specializes in installing their roofing products.
Manufacturer sites tend to make use of ‘designer tools’ like a visualizer and color selector. Such tools can be very helpful in product selection. A couple years ago these tools were just using a few house types and then providing ability to change out roof color or style, along with changing siding color and trim color. Mixing and matching color is fun, and obviously can help in getting a look that is best in your opinion. The Visualizer tools now allow you to upload pic of your own house to make the design process even more helpful to your unique situation.
The “Where to Buy” tools on the sites are fairly basic and yet provide not just which Home Depot or Lowe’s nearest you has their products, but also what are the premier and pro dealers. Again, these are geared more toward professional contractors, though may help if you decide to go that route.
Both sites are great at providing additional information about their products and about roofs in general. While the Home Depot and Lowe’s websites capture some of that, they really just scratch the surface. If wanting to see full lines of products, it’s best to visit the manufacturer sites.
While we are emphasizing shopping and learning via websites, we do recognize that this can’t replace the in-store shopping experience. We obviously suggest you do both, but our hope is you walk into a retail home improvement store with some knowledge and better idea of questions to ask. Or possibly just walk in to pick up an order placed online and briefly chat with the service desk for any questions you have.
With regards to shopping for asphalt shingles and how to install them, we tried to be helpful without overwhelming you with too much information. There really is much we didn’t include. Nothing major, but enough to encourage you to do a little more research. On the GAF website, there is a whole lot of information about products and tools to make the DIY approach as smooth as possible. It is honestly one of the better resources for the DIY approach, specifically dealing with roofing of residential homes. Both Home Depot and Lowe’s websites have plenty of information, videos and guides to help with DIY project, but much of that goes beyond the scope of roofing.
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