You can’t pick up roof shingles at the corner convenient store, but convenience does matter. Asphalt-based roofing shingles are extremely heavy, and they probably won’t fit in your truck. Ideally, a nearby supplier will deliver your new shingles – maybe even right onto your roof. More about that shortly.
History Of Buying Shingles
Thirty years ago, buying shingles was easy. Every small town and city neighborhood had its own lumberyard. You could choose from 20 or 25 year warranties in a half-dozen colors. When the time came to re-shingle your roof, you’d pick up the phone:
“Hank’s Lumberyard, this is Hank. How can I help you?”
“Hey there, Hank, it’s Tom Freeney down on Maple Street. I need some shingles. What do you recommend?”
“Well, hi Tom, haven’t seen you since last week. Your house is white, right? I’ve got black, white or brown in stock. Which do you think would look best?”
The two of you would hammer out the details in friendly conversation, then wrap it up like this:
“Alrighty, then, Tom. I’ll put that on your account and have Joe and Danny drop those off tomorrow morning. Are you coming to the Rotary pancake breakfast on Saturday?”
Buying Roof Shingles Today
Today, you can peruse a mind-numbing array of shingle types and hues. Laminated styles have largely replaced the familiar 3-tab shingle. Modern shingle warranties now go as high as 50 years. Shingle manufacturers offer labels like premium, designer, premium designer, lifetime, architectural, luxury, and top-line designs that imitate classic roofing materials like slate. If you’re going to shop for shingles, you’ll want to talk the talk.
A guide to shingle terms:
- 3-tab: the basic, classic asphalt shingle
- Laminated shingle: Thicker, heavier, multi-layered roofing offering subtle textures and color blends
- Architectural or 3-dimensional shingles: See “laminated shingle” above
- Fiberglass and composite shingles: Modern recipes for asphalt-based shingles that improve performance
- “One square” – 100 square feet. It’s the standard measure used to calculate shingle quantities.
- Shingle warranties: Stated in 20- to 50-year lengths, directly related to thickness and weight
- Shingle weight: ranging from about 200 pounds per square to about 400 pounds or more. Generally, heavier = better
- Drip-edge, roofing paper, flashing and ventilation: Accessories you’ll need for a new roof
Local Roof Shingle Suppliers
Local suppliers offer roofing products and advice specific to your region. Distance plus weight equals fuel costs, so “nearby” is best. Your shopping choices may include:
- Lumberyards and regional chain stores
- ‘Big box’ retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s
- Contractors’ roofing suppliers
- Discount and ‘seconds’ outlets
Small and locally-owned stores have to work harder to earn your business. They often offer more personal service and discounted delivery or other incentives. Selection may be limited, and pricing can be a bit higher than the giant chains.
Buying Shingles From Major Retailers
Home Depot and Lowe’s have enormous category budgets. No regional “wholesaler” can compete effectively with that level of buying power. These stores will typically stock a single brand at 3 price levels – good, better, and “best.” Color selections will be limited to the fast movers, with the best selection offered in the high-end shingles (surprise!). Of course, you can special-order almost anything, but you’ll have to wait.
Specialty Roofing Suppliers
Specialty roofing suppliers usually provide the highest level of service. You’ll find knowledgeable sales staff and a larger selection than the national chains stock. Ask about special purchase incentives for specific brands – there’s almost always a contest or rebate program running. Since they cater to professionals in the industry, these “wholesalers” can arrange for the most convenient delivery method. You may, however, be required to make your purchase via a roofing contractor.
Discount Roofing Outlets
Discount outlets like Mr. Seconds can be a fine choice for frugal shoppers. However, these stores tend to employ less-experienced sales staff. Be prepared to arrange your own delivery from a severely limited selection. Put those sacrifices in your pocket as money saved.
Possible Shingle Delivery Options:
- Your vehicle: best for only the smallest roofing jobs, unless you own a flatbed truck
- Rented truck: the big chains offer one-day rentals at reasonable prices. You do most of the work.
- Paid delivery, curbside: the most common option. You pay a fee, and your roofing products are dropped in your driveway.
- Roof-top delivery: contractors prefer to let their suppliers do the heavy lifting. Conditions apply, and pricing is by-the-bundle.
Discounts, distance, delivery and selection all matter when you’re shopping for a new roof. Good advice and helpful staff smooth the way. When you find the right shingle at the best price, your roofing project is off to a great start. If you can start the job right after that pancake breakfast – even better!