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I am looking to get a new roof for my house. I have taken quotes from about 4 contractors and 3 of them are suggesting I should use GAF shingles. 1 suggests that Owens Corning is a better shingle and I should use that. I am really new in this field and not sure which material to go for? Does it matter which material I choose or are these both good shingles and which one I use does not matter?

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We need to know a) which line of Owens Corning shingles he's planning to use. (Different shingles have different wind, heat, and other resistance properties.) b) We need to know where you are so that we can tell if the material is appropriate for your climate. –  Karl Katzke Aug 17 '11 at 17:03
    
a)He suggested he would use Owens Corning Lifetime Duration Shingles and 3 others suggested they would use GAF Timberline Lifetime shingles. b) I am in Northern New Jersey area. Thanks for your response. –  Varun Aug 18 '11 at 20:39
    
FWIW, after looking at both I went with Timberline Hickory, but that was as much because I liked the look of it -- and because at the time GAF had a better tool for visualizing what these would look like installed on my house -- as anything else. My contractor's opinion was "shrug." –  keshlam Jun 3 at 19:56

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

More important question: Which contractor did you feel the most comfortable with and which has the best work history in your area -- have you checked BBB and something like Angies List? Who has the best relationship with their wholesaler/supplier and can get you support if you need it in case of roof damage?

Owens Corning and GAF make comparable products; the Owens Corning warranty is longer, but neither warranty is good unless the installer installs it properly with the proper number of nails at the proper spacing. Specifically, the two products that you're looking at are almost identical. One difference besides the warranty is that Owens Corning has a constant bead of sealant on the backside of the shingles to seal them to the shingles underneath; if you're in an area that gets significant amounts of wind-driven rain (such as a coastal area) to the point that you will be testing the wind resistance of the shignle, you will PROBABLY want to choose the GAF shingle because the Owens Corning shingles sometimes have problems draining after water has blown up underneath them.

Remember that it isn't the shingle that matters; the shingle really just protects your roof. Your roof is actually the tar paper and other membrane (such as Grace Ice & Water Shield) that goes on under the shingles. Those products should be of the highest quality and have perfect installations. Getting good shingles is essential, but it's almost secondary if you cheap out on the underlayments or your roofer installs it incorrectly.

One note that I'm suggesting all homeowners explore: If your attic is hot during the summer, look into the 'Cool Roof' shingles that both OC and GAF produce. They have a reflective substance in with the stone and will help reflect solar energy back out before it has a chance to enter your roof structure.

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Karl, thanks for the detailed explanation. Both contractors I am referring - I found them on Angie's list and they have several positive reviews. The one suggesting me to use Owens Corning has actually almost double the number of positive reviews. Also, he is committing a platinum warranty which is also transferable in case I sell the house. However, as of now he is about $1000 more expensive. So I am debating which way to go. This answer certainly helps a lot. Thank you. –  Varun Aug 20 '11 at 4:33
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That "sealant" is there to bond the shingles down so you have a solid layer so the wind doesn't get underneath and strip the roofing off. It's where proper nailing comes into effect. The right number of nails won't rip out and the tar bonding strip keeps the wind from blistering them up to start tearing them loose. –  Fiasco Labs Sep 22 '13 at 14:36

Any roofer worth his salt will never say the other guy's shingles are better. As to the two manufacturers making most all of the shingles (of any brand), GAF and OC are on par as to "pros and cons." ...because, just like any other manufactured item, being noticeably different invariably assures a smaller market.

So concentrate on the types of shingles, not the brand. Shingle manufacturers will carve the customer up long before the customer has the slightest hope of carving them up...that's a fact.

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OC currently has huge problems with granule lose and sealing problems distributors are fire saling them at low prices

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Can you provide any links to back up these claims? –  Niall C. Sep 22 '13 at 14:20

I own a roofing company and have used both products. Our go to shingle is the GAF timberline, but from time to time we will upgrade someone to the OC duration. One of the benefits we found with the OC is the nylon nailing strip. We don't have any nails blowing through and if we need to rip on up, most times the nails come with it. So as far as what the shingle is made of, I do not feel there is any benefit, but I do like that nailing strip, it makes for a better installation. GAF has a very small nailing strip making it harder for my guys to hit the line every time. So, I feel that the duration would stand up better to higher winds, because of that reason. Other than that I find no difference.

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I have been researching these two shingles for a few days and the picture is ugly. Here is just the tip of what I have found on the GAF but there is a load more:

http://www.law360.com/articles/408007/gaf-can-t-shake-shoddy-shingle-warranty-claims

http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/gaf-timberline-shingles-class-action-lawsuit-degrading-cracking

I was limited in posting only two links because I am new but these will get you going.

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These are links to legal sites about lawsuits and warranty claims. They don't really speak to the question asked. –  The Evil Greebo Jul 8 at 12:05

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