Shingle Showdown – GAF vs. Composite Slate and Composite Cedar

Which shingle option holds up best to high noon, harsh weather, and your neighbor’s judging eyes? Learn the pros and cons of these premium roofing materials and how Blue Nail guarantees high-quality work the first time.

Choosing the right roof shingle is one of the biggest decisions a homeowner can make, and there’s a lot more at stake than beautifying the property. Today, we’re deconstructing two popular roofing options to reveal their benefits and drawbacks. We’ll also share why it’s so important to choose the right roofing team to get the job done.

GAF and composite shingles — whether they’re the composite slate or composite cedar varieties — may seem like only two roofing material options, but there are many more choices available under each of those broad headings in terms of color and design. It’s this level of versatility that has seen GAF and composite shingles both eclipse even real wood and slate as the shingle materials of choice for high-class homes. These new kids on the roof provide all the good looks of those natural materials while overcoming many of their weaknesses. 

GAF shingles

In business for more than a century and consistently voted the #1 roofing material in America, General Aniline & Film (GAF) is a force to be reckoned with. Founded in 1886, the firm once had roots in film and photography. Today, they generate billions of dollars annually with their many shingle options.

Foremost among these is the Timberline range — Timberline HD, Timberline Ultra and Timberline American Harvest. These shingles have a granulated layer that protects them from sunlight, UV light and general weathering. Each of these GAF options is available in a wide spectrum of colors, including shades of gray, red, brown, green, brick and weathered wood, to name a few.

Of all the Timberline selections, Timberline HD is the #1 brand in America and provides an authentic wood shake appearance with a 14-color palette. They come with GAF’s Advanced Protection Shingle Technology, which means the shingles are rigorously tested for wind and fire resistance, flexibility and general toughness while being more resilient to mold and algae. Shingles with this tech are composed of 4 layers: a fiberglass mat, asphalt, premium limestone filler and superior adhesive.

The American Harvest option offers a modern and fresh take on roof shingles, while Timberline Ultra offers a thicker wood-shake look with an attractive shadow effect that provides a deep, dimensional appearance. 

GAF also offers the Camelot II option from their Designer range — a luxury shingle at a fraction of the cost of traditional slate or wood. This choice also has the Advanced Protection perk, along with StainGuard to fight off blue-green algae and DuraGrip adhesive seals for added protection against high winds.

Composite slate and composite cedar shingles

Composite shingles are made from a synthetic blend of different materials designed to mimic the look of slate and cedar tiles. Plastic, fiberglass, asphalt, polyester and even recycled paper can all be found in composites, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful — many composites are almost indistinguishable from slate or wood. This composite is also many times stronger, lighter and longer-lasting than purely natural shingles.

DaVinci is a leading brand for this option, providing the very best in composite shingles that possess all the visual and practical impact homeowners want with none of the maintenance headaches that come with actual wood or slate. Available in multiple widths and configurations, DaVinci shingles are polymer-based for 21st-century toughness with an old-world appearance that comes from being modeled on actual slate and hand-split shake shingles. This gives these composite shingles a truly convincing beauty.

DaVinci’s cedar shake can lend your roof a pristine, beautifully shadowed appearance in a range of colors, including red, blue, black and white. Like all composite shingles, they’re fast and easy to install, and repairs can be performed just as quickly when necessary.

The pros of GAF

All the shingle options we’ve mentioned so far have beauty on their side. Their wide range of colors and elegant appearances elevate not only a homeowner’s happiness, but also the curb appeal and market value of their property. The real showdown starts over resilience and return on investment.

A big part of GAF’s market dominance is how much punishment their shingles can endure while still looking and performing their best. Take a look at this video demonstrating the kind of elemental extremes GAF shingles can handle. With that kind of hardiness, even New Jersey’s worst weather doesn’t pose a problem! 

When this resilience is combined with GAF’s highly competitive price point and transferable warranty, homeowners have a very attractive option that offers admirable affordability, a first-class return on investment and a greatly enhanced profile should the house be put up for sale.

The cons that come with GAF

One potential con of GAF shingles isn’t really with the product itself, but the workers who fit it. GAF’s lifetime warranty can be voided by incorrect installation, and if a homeowner wants the upgraded warranty, they have to find a roofer who is part of the exclusive GAF Master Elite class. That narrows installation options down to only 2% of roofers in America.

Loss of the granules which coat the shingle surface is another possible downside. Some granule loss over time is inevitable, but if shingles are fitted in an improperly granulated state right out of the box, then it will drastically reduce their effectiveness from Day 1.

A quality roofer will be able to assess the granule quality of the shingles before they become part of your roof. This will also protect your gutters if they’re made of aluminum, since excessive shedding of Timberline’s copper-coated granules can react badly with that material.

The pros and cons of composite

Composite shingles in general provide the bonus of being lighter in weight (the less load your roof must bear, the better). They’re versatile and can be cut and shaped to replicate a range of styles. Composites are also the toughest shingles around. DaVinci shingles carry impressive elemental ratings, being resistant to 110 mph winds, Class A fires, and Class 4 impacts.

Elemental toughness means composite shingles are more resilient to the freeze/thaw cycle that can be very damaging to New Jersey roofs. These shingles come with a lifetime limited warranty and state-of-the-art UV stabilizers that provide superior color retention. DaVinci won’t be beaten on color. They invite homeowners to explore their options with many base shades plus the opportunity to create your own custom color. 

What are the negatives? Improper attic ventilation is very bad for a home and its occupants, but it can also directly damage composite shingles. Composite shingles also cost significantly more than simple asphalt shingles, and they take more time and expertise to install, which raises labor costs as well. 

As with GAF shingles, finding the right roofing team to fit composite can be both a challenge and a risk. Composite is a relatively new addition to the roofing market and very few installers have mastered the art of fitting it well. The lack of qualified craftspeople means homeowners who don’t properly vet their roofing team may end up receiving over-confident claims and substandard work from inexperienced contractors.

Choose Blue Nail as your roofing experts

Blue Nail has built our excellent reputation on the highest standard of workmanship. We’re part of the GAF Master Elite group of installers, making us one of very few roofers in the country who can install GAF shingles to the levels of attractiveness and durability the brand demands. Our status lets Blue Nail offer the Golden Pledge — a guarantee that our work is good for 25 years and that 40-point detailed inspections will be carried out to ensure you get the best roof.

We’re proud to also rank as members of the DaVinci Masterpiece Contractor Program, meaning we’re equally skilled at fitting composite shingles as we are with GAF. Whichever shingle brand you choose, Blue Nail is one of the country’s most skilled and trusted firms to install it.

Now that you know the pros and cons of these two popular shingle types, let our experience and expertise give you the confidence you need to make your dream roof a reality. Our free consultation is a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have about shingles and roofing. We can even appraise your roof using a drone flyby to make sure all current standards of social distancing are safely observed.

Don’t let the roofing cowboys make your shingles a shambles. Speak to Blue Nail for a team you can trust.
Working with Blue Nail Roofing means coming home to craftsmanship. From first call to final inspection, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure you benefit from our experience. For more information or a free consultation, drop by our contact page or call 973-937-8876.

Our Value Proposition

We leverage our detailed craftsmanship to solve roofing and siding issues with transparency and education. After a free consultation with us, our clients are fully prepared to make the best decision to protect their home for the next 30+ years. We have achieved rare certifications to guarantee the highest level of workmanship and offer the best warranties in the industry. We strive to make the entire process easy, from the first call to the final inspection.

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