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A home maintenance expert said on the radio recently that asphalt shingle warranties were mostly a marketing tool. He said they are pro-rated, don't include labor, and are not something one should rely on too much when selecting a shingle.

Even though the warranties are not overly generous as the expert said, would not a longer warranty indicate a shingle that will last more years than a shingle with a lesser warranty? I live in the Upper Midwest USA (Wisconsin) and when I have my roof replaced, I would like to have shingles installed that will be at the upper end of shingle longevity. How does a layperson determine which are the longest-lasting shingles.?
 

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I'll put it this way, the shingles that now have a "lifetime" warranty were called 30yr shingles 20 years ago. It is a marketing tool. And even if you do get a bad batch that fails prematurely, the guy the manufacturer sends out is liable to find some error with the installation and deny the claim on those grounds. That said, the high end shingles that are thicker than your standard shingle should last longer. Adequate intake and exhaust ventilation of the attic space will ensure better longevity of any shingle.
 

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From lowest to highest, 3-tab, architectural, "designer". Here are some examples of a "designer" or premium shingle.




There could be other manufacturers available in your area.
 

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From my own experience, I can say that the thicker and more expensive the tiles, the longer they serve.
 

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The majority of roof warranties come from the manufacturer of your shingles. With the common asphalt shingle, you can expect a 25-30 year warranty (though there are some options for 50 year and “lifetime” coverage). Typically, a basic manufacturer's warranty will cover roofing materials.
 
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