If you’re considering a new roof for your house, it pays to know what’s out there in terms of options because it’s likely the roofer you choose will have their own opinion, and it pays to be informed before you begin looking.
To compare the two brands, we’ll look at their current offerings, judging them using the following criteria:
- Style and color options
- The bottom line
At the end of our comparison, we’ll discuss how you can determine which option is right for you.
A note on asphalt shingle types
Asphalt shingles for homes generally fall into two categories:
- Strip or 3-tab shingles
- Architectural shingles
Each kind is made by adding asphalt to a fiberglass base sheet and then embedding ceramic-coated mineral granules in the asphalt.
Also called strip shingles, 3-tab shingles are basic shingles popular for budget roofing jobs. They're made from a fiberglass strip with a contiguous top half and a bottom half divided into three tabs, each 12 inches wide. Hence the name, 3-tab.
Three-tab shingles are the least expensive and come in relatively few color variations (mainly grey and brown). GAF offers a 3-tab shingle called Royal Sovereign®, while Certainteed offers the XT® 25 line.
Also called dimensional shingles or designer shingles, architectural shingles have two or more strips bonded together with tabs of varying widths.
This construction gives them a more refined, three-dimensional look. In fact, architectural shingles were first developed to match the naturally variegated colors and dimensions of high-quality wood shakes but with greater durability.
Because they have several layers laminated together, these shingles are more durable than 3-tab shingles and offer better wind and impact resistance. You can find architectural shingles in more colors and often with solar reflectivity, and they frequently have longer warranty periods.
GAF and CertainTeed are two of the most widely trusted brands of architectural shingles, offering the Timberline® and Landmark® product lines, respectively. The comparisons below focus on each manufacturer’s line of architectural shingles.
GAF Timberline Shingles
Image source: GAF
GAF Timberline HD shingles have been the best-selling shingles on the home roofing market for many years. And they're generally less costly than comparable CertainTeed products.
Timberline HDZ shingles come with LayerLock® technology and StainGuard Plus™ algae protection. The shingle's generous, widest on the market, 1.8-inch nail strip makes it easier for roofers using automatic nail guns to work accurately, and the shingle comes in 24 colors.
The Timberline series begins with its base level called “Natural Shadow” or Timberline NS shingles and also includes sub-divisions that offer additional options, including the Armour Shield® (Timberline AS) with rubber-like flexibility and the Cool Series® (Timberline CS) Energy Star-certified shingles.
Recently, GAF announced its new Timberline UHDZ® shingle. In addition to the characteristics found in Timberline HDZ, this premium shingle is the only one to feature GAF’s Dual Shadow Line, which creates beautiful sunset shadows all day long. It comes in six natural-looking colors and has 10% more algae-fighting power.
For those who want to go ultra-premium, GAF offers designer shingles in its Camelot®, Slateline®, Grand Canyon®, Grand Sequoia®, and Woodland® shingle lines.
CertainTeed Landmark Shingles
Image source: CertainTeed
CertainTeed joins GAF right at the top of the residential shingle market, bringing a reputation for premium quality and price and a long history of awards for its products.
The company’s Landmark line of shingles and its Landmark TL, Landmark Pro, and Landmark Premium lines set the standard for high-quality residential rooftops. CertainTeed roofing products are well-known for both their high-end quality and high-end price.
The Landmark line includes the impact-resistant Landmark IR and Solaris solar reflective shingles. CertainTeed's highest-quality offerings include the Belmont®, Presidential Shake®, Grand Manor®, and Carriage House® luxury shingle brands.
Comparing the cost of GAF vs. CertainTeed Shingles
GAF vs. CertainTeed shingles cost
Cost per square*
GAF Timberline NS
GAF Timberline HDZ
CertainTeed Landmark Premium
GAF Timberline UHDZ
CertainTeed Landmark Pro
*100 square feet of roof coverage
The table above shows the cost of the most popular choices among the two shingle brands in question.
Remember that cost is only part of the equation when choosing the right roofing system for your home. Design, style, and protection are other factors. You want to choose a shingle product that complements the design and style of your home while protecting it from your local climate. For instance, your home will benefit from solar protective shingles if you live in the southwest. And if you live in storm-prone areas, you want a shingle with high wind and impact resistance ratings.
Comparing color options of GAF vs. CertainTeed shingles
Shingle colors usually don’t stray too far from the standard dark grey, charcoal black, and weathered wood look, but if you’re in the market for a special color, you can usually find something to fit the bill.
CertainTeed's Landmark series and GAF's Timberline HDZ series have over 20 colors to choose from. While CertainTeed’s colors are more neutral, GAF provides a few more vivid color options like Hunter Green and Patriot Red.
At the highest quality tier, the two companies offer a similar number of color options. There are six colors in GAF’s Timberline UHDZ line and eight in CertainTeed’s Landmark Premium.
Comparing durability of GAF vs. CertainTeed shingles
Both of these shingle brands are top-flight in the roofing industry, and you won’t find a lot of people with legitimate claims that either one isn’t up to snuff when it comes to durability. As with everything in life, though, there are subtle differences, and knowledgeable folks will happily compare and nitpick amongst themselves.
Each brand produces fiberglass asphalt shingles with dimensions of about 13” x 39”, with 5.625” of exposed surface on each shingle. The differences lie in four key areas:
- Weight per square
- Nailing area
- Impact resistance
- Granule loss
Weight per square
GAF vs. CertainTeed shingle weight
Weight per square*
GAF Timberline NS
GAF Timberline HDZ
CertainTeed Landmark Pro
GAF Timberline UHD
CertainTeed Landmark Premium
*100 square feet of roof coverage
Despite having similar dimensions, CertainTeed shingles weigh anywhere from 10% to 25% more than GAF shingles per square, though CertainTeed shingles are about ¾ of an inch shorter. But it may not matter.
Historically, heavier shingles were thought to be more robust and, therefore, more durable. However, classifying shingles by their weight may now be a thing of the past. New technology has made it possible to strengthen the shingle without adding thickness. Therefore, lighter-weight shingles can be every bit as durable as heavier ones, and they offer roofers the benefit of carrying less weight up to the roof with each bundle of shingles.
CertainTeed has offered its NailTrack® system for years, which offers a 1.5-inch wide strip where roofers can apply nails. They rightly pointed out that their system was superior to traditional architectural shingles with only .5-inch nail areas.
In 2020, GAF answered CertainTeed’s call and introduced its very own StrikeZone™ nail strip. At 1.81 inches wide, it’s now the industry’s widest nail zone, according to the company.
Wide nail areas are nice to have, but how many nails are driven into each shingle is more important. To prevent shingle blow-off under the highest wind conditions, both GAF and CertainTeed recommend using six nails to secure each shingle (standard installations use four nails).
With six nails per shingle, both companies say their shingles can withstand winds up to 130 miles per hour.
The shingle impact resistance test, defined by Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) classification 2218, checks whether a shingle will crack after being hit twice in the same spot by a steel ball dropped from a certain height.
The minimum passing grade, Class 1, requires a shingle to not crack after being hit twice in the same spot by a 1.25-inch diameter steel ball dropped from 12 feet. To achieve Class 4 certification, the shingle needs to withstand a 2-inch diameter steel ball dropped from 20 feet.
None of the standard shingles in the Timberline or Landmark series meet the requirements of impact resistance rating. If you live in an area that is prone to big hail storms, you may wish to choose either CertainTeed Landmark Pro or the GAF Timberline AS II shingles. These shingles have achieved Class 3 and Class 4 certification, respectively.
The final question of durability concerns the granules that make up the topmost layer of the shingles. Granules give shingles their distinctive colors and also protect against damage to the shingle from UV rays.
As your roof ages, and especially right after installation, it’s normal for the shingles to lose some granules. The manufacturing process generally results in some excess granules stuck very loosely to very minute areas of exposed asphalt. You’ll likely notice some granules gathering in your gutters in the weeks immediately following installation.
Many roofers claim that GAF shingles suffer from a large loss of granules before the plastic comes off its bundles. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that GAF shingles suffer from premature granule loss, and no data shows a long-term problem arising from this issue.
Comparing warranties of GAF vs. CertainTeed shingles
The final comparison between these two top-tier shingle brands is their roofing warranties. As you might expect from the rest of this article, the companies are fairly evenly matched here.
Which one offers the best warranty?
CertainTeed’s roofing warranty
In 2023, CertainTeed offers a limited lifetime transferable warranty for all its products above the level of strip shingles. That includes all the Landmark-series shingles and CertainTeed’s more expensive lines.
CertainTeed’s SureStart™ Coverage
Unique to CertainTeed is its special SureStart protection, which provides special coverage for the first 10 years for all Landmark level or higher products.
If a defect arises in the first ten years after installation, CertainTeed will cover 100% of the costs of materials, labor - and even disposal costs and additional roofing materials, like flashing, for certain shingles.
CertainTeed’s Lifetime Warranty
Following the initial 10-year term of the SureStart Warranty, CertainTeed offers a limited warranty for Landmark PRO shingles and above until your roof is 50 years old.
If CertainTeed determines that its shingles have a manufacturing defect during the warranty period, it will reimburse its Landmark-owning customers the reasonable cost of comparable shingles (materials only), multiplied by the remainder of its prorated liability.
CertainTeed calculates this prorating for most of their finer shingles by reducing the cost of the replacement shingles by 1/600th of the total value per month. For example, if you suffer a material defect after 20 years, you’ll get the reasonable value of the replacement shingles multiplied by 360/600 (0.6, the amount left after 240/600 reductions in liability). If the replacement cost of your loss is $1,000, you’ll get $600 from CertainTeed.
CertainTeed also includes separate warranties for wind resistance up to 110 miles per hour (130 if special requirements are met) and 5 or 10 years of algae resistance, depending on your region.
All warranties are transferable to a new owner of the house, though the transfer must take place within the SureStart period in order for the new owner to keep protection for the full 50-year timeframe.
Finally, if the contractor you choose to complete the work is a CertainTeed SELECT ShingleMaster™ contractor, CertainTeed will cover their workmanship for 25 years.
As with all warranties, there are many paragraphs of stipulations and fine print. Check out more of CertainTeed’s residential roofing warranty information here.
GAF’s roofing warranty
GAF does things a little differently here, basing the level of protection available to you on how many GAF products your roofing system uses, and the certification level of the contractor you choose.
The GAF Shingle & Accessory Limited Warranty covers shingle defects and winds up to 130 mph (with conditions) but doesn’t include tear-off, disposal, or workmanship coverage. Upgraded levels of coverage are available if your installation uses at least three to five “qualifying accessory products,” such as Leak Barrier, Roof Deck Protection, Ridge Cap Shingles, etc.
For 2023, GAF offers the following warranties:
- GAF Shingle & Accessory Limited Warranty
- GAF Roofing System Limited Warranty (automatic upgrade when you install qualifying shingles and at least three qualifying accessory products)
- System Plus Limited Warranty (for installations completed by GAF Certified or Master Elite contractors and at least three qualifying accessory products)
- Silver Pledge® Limited Warranty (Master Elite contractor and at least four qualifying accessory products)
- Golden Pledge® Limited Warranty (Master Elite contractor and at least five qualifying accessory products)
Similar to CertainTeed’s workmanship warranty coverage, GAF offers ten and 25-year warranties for workmanship under its Silver and Golden Pledges, respectively. However, GAF’s new Premium Laminate shingle, Timberline® UHDZ™, when registered with a Golden Pledge® Limited Warranty, is eligible for 30-year workmanship coverage. This is five years more than other shingles available from CertainTeed.
GAF’s Smart Choice® Protection Period
Similar to CertainTeed’s SureStart coverage period, Smart Choice is a period of time during which the remedy provided by the Limited Warranty is non-prorated. During the Smart Choice Protection Period, the remedy includes both replacement materials and installation labor.
Unlike CertainTeed, GAF extends this protection to 50 years for all levels “System Plus” and above, but disposal isn’t covered until the Silver Pledge Level.
At levels below “System Plus,” GAF applies the same kind of prorated reimbursement that CertainTeed does if a claim is approved after the Smart Choice Protection Period expires.
GAF’s WindProven™ Limited Wind Warranty Coverage
One feature unique to GAF’s warranty is wind coverage with no maximum wind speed limitation.
If your installation uses what’s called a “Special Installation” with LayerLock® shingles (like Timberline HDZ®) attached using at least four nails and the required combination of four qualifying accessory products, your warranty covers shingle blow-offs at any wind speed.
GAF vs. CertainTeed: which brand of shingles is right for you?
This is what it all comes down to: which brand of shingles should you choose for your home? The answer isn’t just a simple “one is better and one is worse.” It depends on what’s important to you.
Choose GAF shingles if you:
- Are under a tight budget
- Like bolder colors
- Believe GAF’s claims that shingle weight doesn’t matter, and can choose a GAF-certified contractor to get a higher level of warranty protection
Choose CertainTeed’s shingles if you:
- Want the most premium product
- Prefer the looks of a more muted color palette
- Want the most straightforward warranty coverage
Of course, these aren’t the only two shingle brands on the market, but they are the top two.
If you’re set on asphalt shingles, and not interested in a metal roof (or other material), shingle manufacturers like Owens Corning and Tamko make compelling, high-quality products. The right answer for you might be one of those.
The only way to know the best shingle for you and your home is to get multiple quotes from roofing companies and use the knowledge you’ve learned here to compare their offerings versus what the top companies are currently putting out there.
Written byCarol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert
Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.