Debunking common but costly beliefs about asphalt roofing shingles

We create some great-looking roofs. When it comes to durability, the universe is at peace when you’re not worrying about leaks, damage or shingles being blown off due to a storm.

But when your roof does demand attention, you want to get back to everything being okay as quickly as possible. That can often mean finding a roofing contractor who is going to complete the job the fastest.

When things are fine, and you’re planning routine maintenance/inspections, you can take your time and find the highest quality roofer backed by the best industry warranties. In the event of a roofing emergency, though, you may just look for the word warranty, and that can lead to some headaches down the road.

Why? Because roofing shingle warranties are surrounded by misconceptions. Generally, the word warranty implies protection over your purchase. Roof shingle warranties can complicate this expectation. Here are some myths and facts we’ve heard for which we’d like to set the record straight.

Number 1: My shingles are covered for life

Verdict: Myth

Roofing contractors will sometimes say that their service comes with a “lifetime warranty,” leading you to (appropriately) believe that if their shingles break 15 years down the road during a storm, you can have new ones replaced for free.

Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Good roofing contractors will include workmanship warranties (we do), which they may reference as a “lifetime warranty.” But good roofing contractors will also make sure you understand the difference between workmanship warranties and material warranties, which may vary based on the product you’re installing. These product warranties may be as short as 2 years or as long as a lifetime.

Even that lifetime may not be a lifetime (as we’ll find out in number 2 below).

If you’re working with a roofing contractor who hasn’t clarified the warranty, ask them what is covered by this warranty and for how long.

Number 2: Every roofing warranty is created equal

Verdict: Myth

Unfortunately, this is the one that many people misunderstand with a high cost. Even the term Lifetime Warranty doesn’t necessarily translate into an actual lifetime warranty like you would be counting on it to.

For instance, let’s talk about Susan.

Susan buys a roof from Bob’s Roofing Inc. Bob’s Roofing called her after a storm and Susan assumed they were a good choice. Susan spends $9,000 on her roof, which includes a LIFETIME warranty.

15 years pass by without incident. On the 15-year anniversary of her replacing her roof, however. Susan notices her home is not staying dry during a storm. She goes to call Bob’s Roofing, Inc. and…they closed up shop 5 years ago.

Susan calls the company that manufactured her roofing shingles. The materials warranty sold by Bob’s Roofing, Inc. demands that Susan get a sample of her damaged shingles. Since Susan rightfully doesn’t want to climb up on her roof, she hires Dave’s Ridiculously Rad Roofing Regime to get the sample and quote a new roof.

Due to inflation and the cost of labor, Dave’s Ridiculously Rad Roofing Regime returns a price of $18,700 to replace the roof. Susan sends a sample back to the shingle manufacturer and waits.

The big day arrives, and Susan gets a check for the Did-I-Enter-the-Publishers’-Clearing-House amount of…


…less than 5% of her roof replacement cost.

So what happened?

When Bob’s Roofing, Inc. sold Susan her roof, they told her that the manufacturer had a lifetime warranty on the shingles. This was true in the way that you could technically drive from Little Chute, Wisconsin, to Disney World in a day.

The warranty that she bought decreased by 2% every year, bottoming out at 20%. That number was based on the price Susan purchased the shingles for and not the current price. Also, it only covered the shingles. It didn’t cover labor or nails (a surprisingly significant portion of the roof replacement quote).

If her sample had shown any workmanship defects, she could have marched right down to Bob’s Roofing, Inc. and DEMANDED…oh wait, Bob’s Roofing, Inc. is no longer in business.

Make sure you know what’s covered

These warranties are commonplace for modern shingle manufacturers, and while they’re better than nothing, they will probably leave you high and dry if you need to activate them 10, 12 or 15 years down the road when asphalt shingles begin to prepare for their journey to the giant roof in the sky.

Reputable roofing contractors will offer better warranties than these. For instance, we offer the Owens Corning Platinum warranty for every asphalt roof we install. This warranty has a true protection period of 50 years and will cover the cost of labor and parts (beyond the shingles, which are, of course also covered).

Additionally, unlike Susan’s “lifetime warranty,” the Owens Corning Platinum warranty can’t be voided by workmanship defects (even if it could, we offer workmanship guarantees).

This chart below breaks the difference between basic and true warranties down even further. The big takeaway here is that it’s important to know what your warranty will cover.

Number 3: Because asphalt shingles are durable, a warranty is not important

Verdict: Myth

Asphalt shingles, especially ones installed by reputable roofing contractors, are durable. Shingles sold by companies like Owens Corning, GAF or CertainTeed bring a high quality along with their name.

That being said, roofing shingle warranties are always important to look out for. The initial 5 – 10-year warranty is usually included in the price of the installation. Additionally, asphalt manufacturers that offer these warranties tend to be higher quality and less likely to need replacement/repair.

We’ve seen too many instances of a good warranty not being a priority and a customer having to foot the bill of replacement. It’s never good to have to pay for work twice.

Number 4: Who you buy from matters

Verdict: Fact

With many roofing contractors offering similar products, it’s easy to think that they are all doing the same work. While the products these roofing contractors are installing may be the same, the quality of care you are getting is not.

Just as importantly, you are also getting access to better shingle warranties by working with roofing contractors who are certified through the asphalt manufacturer.

The best benefit of all is being able to work with a specialist who can help navigate the terminology and options offered for both material and workmanship warranties. Choosing a roofing contractor that has this certification and trade association membership ensures the highest quality of guaranteed work.

We are an Owens Corning Platinum partner and certified through a number of local and national trade associations. For a free estimate on guaranteed asphalt roofing, contact us today!