What Is an Impact-Resistant Roof? (2024)

By Tamara Jude Updated February 5, 2024

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Homeowners looking for a roofing material that protects against extreme weather, such as wind or hail, may want to consider impact-resistant shingles. Below, we’ll explain what makes a shingle impact-resistant and how its construction affects the price.


What Is Impact Resistance?

Impact resistance is the ability of a material to withstand sudden exerted force, which is an important quality for roofing materials. Most roofing shingles and other roofing materials are officially rated based on their impact resistance in laboratory tests.

Impact Resistance Testing

Two organizations test roofing and other construction materials for impact resistance: Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and FM Approvals. UL drops steel balls of varying sizes on roofing materials as part of the test and then looks for cracks, chips, and other damages that result. FM Approvals runs similar tests, but launches ice balls horizontally at the roofing materials, which are placed on a slope to better simulate real hail on a roof.

The materials earn a rating based on the test results. The UL 2218 scale includes a rating from Class 1 to Class 4, with Class 4 representing the highest impact resistance among roof covering materials. FM Approvals uses a similar scale called FM 4473 with the same categories. Materials are typically struck multiple times in the same spot to ensure they can sustain more than one impact without breaking.

Classes of Impact Resistance

Roofing materials such as asphalt shingles include UL 2218 or FM 4473 ratings on the shingles’ undersides. Here’s how those class ratings are determined.

A “break” includes any kind of crack, split, rupture, or other visible damage. Dents and granule loss are considered cosmetic and not technically classified as damage. Most impact-resistant shingles and other roofing materials are Class 4, though some are Class 3.


Benefits of Impact-Resistant Roofs

Impact-resistant roofing materials greatly extend a roof’s life span in areas where hail storms and high winds are common. Whether hailstones, tree branches, or golf balls strike your roof, you’ll have maximum protection from impact damage. Undamaged shingles retain their curb appeal and waterproof features for longer, so you won’t have to replace your roof as frequently.

There are hidden benefits to installing impact-resistant materials, too. You may receive a discount of 5% to 35% on your homeowners insurance premiums because impact-resistant shingles are less likely to sustain costly damage. Your home insurance discount will depend on where you live and will be most substantial in hail-prone areas of the country. Some insurance companies may even offer a rebate on the cost of a roof replacement if you’re starting to see signs that you need a new roof.

You’ll likely get a better return on investment (ROI) on shingle roof installation expenses if you opt for impact-resistant shingles in a hail-prone climate. You’ll increase your home’s value, as a strong roof with an improved lifespan makes an excellent selling point for potential buyers.


Cost of Impact-Resistant Shingles

The biggest downside to installing impact-resistant shingles is price. Class 4 impact-resistant shingles tend to cost 10% to 20% more than standard asphalt shingles. If standard shingles cost $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot for materials alone, impact-resistant shingles will cost $1.10 to $1.80* per square foot.

Labor costs for both types are similar. Here’s how material costs break down for roofs of different sizes:

Roof Size in Square FeetStandard Shingles (Materials Only)Impact-Resistant Shingles (Materials Only)

1,000

$1,000–$1,500

$1,100–$1,800

1,500

$1,500–$2,250

$1,650–$2,700

2,000

$2,000–$3,000

$2,200–$3,600

2,500

$2,500–$3,750

$2,750–$4,500

3,000

$3,000–$4,500

$3,300–$5,400

*Cost data in this article was sourced from RoofingCalculator and HomeAdvisor.

Another option for an impact-resistant roof is a metal roofing system. Metal is extremely resistant to cracking, splitting, and breaking under the force of impact, and roofing will last between 40 to 100 years with premium materials such as zinc and copper. However, thinner metal materials will dent from hail impacts.

Metal roof pricing is substantially higher than shingle roof pricing and will cost homeowners between $4 and $30 per square foot, depending on the type of metal.

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Are Impact-Resistant Shingles Worth It?

The benefits of impact-resistant shingles depend on how much severe weather your city or town experiences in a single year. Consider possible savings on home insurance premiums or any rebates offered by your insurance company. American homeowners in “Hail Alley,” which extends from North Dakota to northwestern Texas, will probably benefit the most from impact-resistant roofing products.

The primary drawback of impact-resistant shingles is the price. You’ll ultimately get the most benefits from this type of shingle in areas prone to hail damage.


Maintaining an Impact-Resistant Roof

Impact-resistant shingles require the same maintenance as standard asphalt shingles. Impact-resistant roofs are tough, but you should still perform a visual inspection from the ground after a severe storm to look for signs of damage, such as cracked shingles or broken roof flashing. You should schedule a professional annual roof inspection starting five years after installing your roof. Make repairs as soon as possible to prevent further problems.

Clean your roof as needed. If you spot algae or moss growing on the roof, it’s time for a cleaning with gentle methods. Renting a pressure washer may seem like an easy solution, but you can easily damage even impact-resistant shingles with high-pressure water. If you blast granules away, you strip the shingles of their protection against UV rays and shorten their lifespan.


Our Recommendation

Impact-resistant roofing materials cost slightly more than standard materials, but if you live in an area prone to heavy storms, they can save you money in the long run. Talk to your insurance company about potential savings for installing impact-resistant shingles, and call local roofing contractors to ask for product recommendations. We recommend that impact-resistant shingles be installed by licensed roofers for the best return on investment and longevity.

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Impact-Resistant Roof FAQ

What are the disadvantages of impact-resistant shingles?

The biggest drawback of impact-resistant shingles is the increase in price over standard shingles. Remember that even the strongest shingle isn’t totally indestructible, and severe hail damage will compromise any shingle over time.

How much do impact-resistant shingles save on insurance?

Some homeowners can save 5% to 35% on their insurance premiums by installing impact-resistant roofing materials.

How do I know if my roof is impact-resistant?

Check the undersides of your shingles to ensure your materials are Class 3 or Class 4, which signify impact resistance.

Are 50-year shingles better than impact-resistant shingles?

The answer depends on where you live and which shingles you’re considering. Impact-resistant shingles are best in hail-prone climates, but some 50-year shingles are also impact-resistant.

What type of roof lasts the longest?

A natural slate roof is the longest-lasting choice and can last for up to 200 years. Slate is brittle and can break if force is applied, though, so only slate of 3/8 inches thickness and greater is considered Class 4 impact-resistant.