Asphalt is the No. 1 residential roofing material in the United States, and that is likely to continue in the future. Demand is expected to reach $3.5 billion by 2007, the Cleveland-based Freedonia Group concludes in its recent study, "Roofing." This growth, says the study, "will be aided by the continuing trend toward higher-value laminated shingles at the expense of the three-tab shingles." In short, asphalt roofing is getting better.

Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning agrees. "There has clearly been a shift in consumer preference from traditional products to different color options and to products that look better," says Brian Chambers, the company's product manager for residential roofing. "There has also been the creation of a new category--super lams--which are thicker, bigger, heavier, and have much better color selection."

Chambers says improving upon existing products is one of Owens Corning's goals. That's why the manufacturer recently introduced the Berkshire Collection, a new line of roofing products that includes a dimensional premium laminated shingle that looks like slate.

CertainTeed, in Valley Forge, Pa., also is beefing up its offerings. Earlier this year, the manufacturer introduced Patriot AR, a 235-pounds-per-square product that is heavier and more durable than typical three-tab shingles. It is algae-resistant and available in nine colors.

Though a heavier laminated shingle will not generally perform any better than a traditional one, home buyers will appreciate the curb appeal. So besides aesthetics, what's the benefit of heavyweight products? For one, because they are bigger, the products will install easier and faster, says Chambers. But they also offer a chance for you to make more money.

"There is an opportunity for the builder to up-sell to the home buyer," says Russell K. Snyder, executive vice president of the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association in Washington. "Builders could use it to up-sell the roof just as they do with brick siding and other products on the home."

Courtesy CertainTeed

Patriot games: Unlike traditional three-tab shingles, Patriot AR measures 235 pounds per square, so it is heavier and more durable than other products, the manufacturer says. The steep-slope product features bold shadow lines, is algae resistant, easy to install, and comes in nine colors, including weathered wood and patriot blue. CertainTeed. 610-341-7000.

Courtesy Owens Corning

Clean slate: Offering the look of slate with the performance of asphalt, Berkshire is a three-dimensional laminate shingle that comes in a combination of seven colors found in natural slate and five additional designer colors. It has a 15-year, algae-resistant warranty and 110-mph wind warranty. Owens Corning. 419-248-8000.

Courtesy GAF

Baby grand: Grand Slate fiberglass asphalt shingles offers the look of slate at a fraction of the cost, the manufacturer says. The product has extra-thick tabs, weighs about 425 pounds per square, and is 60 percent thicker than other "premium" fiberglass asphalt shingles, says the company. Easy to install, each shingle measures 17 by 40 inches and has a 7 1/2-inch exposure. It also has a row of Dura Grip adhesive that seals each shingle to prevent blow offs. GAF. 973-628-3000.

Courtesy Atlas Roofing

Shadow lines: The Pinnacle premium shingle is a true laminated dimensional product that features distinct shadow lines, which gives it a traditional wood shake look. Full random cuts ensure that the appearance of undesirable patterns will not occur, the manufacturer says. It offers algae-resistant and limited 25- and 45-year warranties and is available in a variety of colors. Atlas Roofing. 770-933-4479. For more product information, search ebuild, Hanley-Wood's interactive product catalog.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.