Are 50-Year Shingles Better Than Impact Resistant?

September 29, 2023

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When it's time to replace your roof, one of the biggest decisions you'll make is what type of shingle to use. Most homeowners choose between standard 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles, and impact resistant shingles. Within those categories, you'll also have to decide whether you want a 25, 30, 40, or 50-year warranty.

So, are 50 year shingles better than impact resistant? In brief, impact-resistant shingles are better than 50 year shingles for homes prone to hail storms or extreme weather due to their reinforced durability against damage. In comparison, 50-year shingles offer longer lifespans and more aesthetic options for lower-risk areas.

With so many options, it can be confusing to know which is the best choice for your home and budget. In this article, we'll compare 50-year shingles to impact-resistant ones to help make your decision easier. We'll look at the pros and cons of each, as well as costs, durability, and overall value.

Shingle Types

50-Year Shingles

50-year shingles, also called lifetime shingles, are architectural shingles that come with one of the longest warranties available. They are constructed with a heavier fiberglass mat base and feature multiple layers of asphalt shingle material. This added thickness and durability is what enables them to last longer than the average 30-year shingle.

Most 50-year shingles are also algae-resistant, which helps prevent ugly black streaks on your roof. They come in a wide variety of colors and styles, often mimicking the look of slate, wood shake, or tile.

Impact Resistant Shingles

Impact-resistant shingles are designed to withstand damage from hail storms, falling branches, and other impacts. They are normally architectural shingles that have a reinforced fiberglass mat to provide extra durability.

What makes them impact-resistant is the addition of rubber or plastic polymers to the asphalt. This adds flexibility so the shingles are better able to absorb an impact without cracking.

Impact-resistant shingles are available in 30, 40, and 50-year versions. The added durability does come at a price premium over standard architectural shingles.

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Are 50-Year Shingles Better Than Impact Resistant? Let's Compare Durability Factors


One of the biggest differences between these two types of shingles is their expected lifespan under normal conditions. A 50-year shingle will typically last 35-50 years before needing replacement. Meanwhile, an impact resistant shingle has a slightly shorter lifespan of 30-40 years.

So, in terms of longevity for your roof, the 50-year shingle would seem to have an advantage. However, maximum lifespan relies heavily on proper installation and maintenance.

Resistance to Damage

Impact-resistant shingles live up to their name and do a superior job protecting your roof from hail, falling debris, and even hurricane winds. Their impact resistance rating indicates they can withstand mid-sized hail stones traveling at moderate speeds.

Standard 50-year shingles do not have the same impact resistance. While durable, the asphalt and mat materials can still crack if hit with large enough hail.

So, for homes in regions prone to hail storms or extreme weather, impact resistant shingles provide better protection against common roof damage. Their impact resistance gives them an advantage over regular 50-year shingles.

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Cost Comparison

Initial Cost

50-year shingles are one of the most premium roofing options. On average, they cost $350-500 per square (100 sq. ft.) installed. This is around 20% more than a standard 30-year architectural shingle.

Impact-resistant shingles have an additional cost premium. Expect to pay $450-650 per square installed. So they generally cost about $100-150 more per square than 50-year shingles.

For a simple gable roof of 20 squares, a 50-year shingle roof would cost $7,000 to $10,000 installed. The same roof with impact-resistant shingles would be $9,000 to $13,000 installed.

Long Term Value

Given their longer lifespan, 50-year shingles can provide better long-term value if impact damage is not a major concern. You'll likely get about 15 extra years before a re-roof is needed, compared to impact-resistant shingles.

However, in regions with regular hail storms or extreme weather, impact resistant shingles often pay for themselves. Avoiding expensive impact damage repairs down the road results in savings that offset their higher initial cost.

Overall, impact-resistant shingles provide better long-term value if impact damage is likely. In calmer climates, 50-year shingles should suffice.

Are 50 year shingles better than impact resistant


Color and Style Choices

One advantage of 50-year shingles is you'll have your pick of colors and styles. Manufacturers like GAF and Owens Corning offer designer lifetime shingles mimicking wood shakes, slate, tile, and other natural looks. This allows lots of curb appeal customization for your roof.

The color and style selection tends to be smaller with impact resistant shingles. Most manufacturers focus on providing the most popular colors, like weathered wood and slate gray. If matching your roof to other exterior elements is important, 50-year shingles give you more aesthetic flexibility.

Added Thickness

The extra thickness and dimensionality of 50-year shingles result in a more dramatic, high-end look. The shingles have textural appeal that makes the roof stand out as a design element.

Because they need to remain flexible, impact resistant shingles have a fairly uniform, flatter profile. That doesn’t necessarily detract from visual appeal, but it lacks the defined texture of architectural shingles.

So, 50-year shingles can enhance your home's curb appeal a bit more than impact resistant ones. But, for many homeowners, the aesthetic difference is minor compared to the functional benefits of impact resistance.

Key Differences Summary

  • 50-year shingles typically last 35-50 years, while impact resistant shingles last 30-40 years
  • Impact-resistant shingles provide excellent protection against hail, debris, and high winds
  • 50-year shingles cost $350-500 per square installed vs. $450-650 per square for impact resistant
  • More color/style choices available with 50-year shingles
  • 50-year shingles have more dimensional texture for enhanced curb appeal

Are 50 year shingles better than impact resistant


When choosing between these two premium shingle types, you'll want to weigh upfront cost versus long-term savings and lifespan versus impact resistance. To make the best decision for your home and budget, take into account:

  • Your local climate - if you regularly get severe storms, impact resistance is worth the investment
  • How long you plan to stay in the home - if over 10 years, 50-year shingles provide longer-lasting protection
  • Your roof's visual prominence - if curb appeal is key, 50-year shingles offer more design options

At the end of the day, both of these are excellent choices that will protect your most important asset for decades to come. If impact resistance is critical, upgraded impact resistant shingles are the way to go. Otherwise, 50-year shingles give you the best overall durability and value.

About The Cranston Roofers

With over 20 years of experience, The Cranston Roofers are experts at installing and repairing roofs in the local area. Family-owned and operated since 2002, they have built a reputation for quality workmanship and customer satisfaction. For a free estimate on your roofing needs, call us today at (401) 208-2324.


Is a 50-year roof warranty worth it?

While a 50-year warranty on roof shingles may seem appealing, the fine print reveals most brands pro-rate coverage down to just 10-20 years. Ultimately, the length of the warranty matters less than proper installation and regular maintenance for getting the full lifespan out of any roof.

What are the disadvantages of impact resistant shingles?

Compared to standard asphalt shingles, impact resistant shingles tend to be more expensive upfront and offer less flexibility in color/style choices. They also have a slightly shorter lifespan under normal conditions, averaging 30-40 years versus 50 years for premium architectural shingles.

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