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True Hip & Ridge Shingles: What and Why?

Hip and ridge shingles are named after the purpose they were designed for: to cover your roof’s hips and ridges.

Ridges: the horizontal lines at the top edge of two sloping roof planes.
Hips: the verticle lines from two adjoined sloping roof planes.

What these two have in common is that the shingle does not lay flat. The shingle is bent over a ridge and laid on top of all other field shingles. This leaves the shingle exposed to the wind at three points instead of only one, and the crest of the shingle is exposed to more significant impact due to less surface area impact dispersion.

If you want to see your roof last through the brutal conditions every year, then these two crucial factors are why your roof should have true hip & ridge shingles instead of cut 3-tab shingles.

We aren't here to make empty claims,
so let's explain why.

Hip & Ridge Shingle Wind Rating

Your field shingles (the ones that cover the flat surfaces of your roof) only need to resist wind from one direction:

  • the bottom (except for edge shingles on a gable roof or dormers).

Hip and ridge shingles can be hit from the bottom and both sides.

So it would be advantageous to use a strong shingle meant for high winds.

Actual hip & ridge shingles are meant for such elements. In contrast, some roofers will cut corners by taking typical 3-tab shingles, cutting them in thirds, and using them as hip and ridge shingles.

The problem is that 3-tab shingles are only rated for 60mph winds, whereas true hip and ridge shingles are rated for 130mph (some products even higher).

Hip & Ridge shingle Impact Rating

First of all, a true hip and ridge shingle has a higher impact rating than 3-tab. To add more complexity to the equation, the shingles are not lain flat; they are bent.

Why does this matter for impact? Imagine hammering a piece of thin metal on a flat surface. That hammer will probably just dent the metal. 

WARNING: this next part might bring back some high school math and physics traumas, but bear with me.

Now take that same thin metal sheet, bend it over a curved surface, and strike it with a hammer.

The point you would be striking is called the tangent.

You are taking the same force of impact, and instead of dispersing it onto a surface the size of the hammer’s head, you are now focusing all that energy on a single point.

To put in lamen terms: imagine pushing your finger against a tabletop vs. a knife blade (I know. I cringed just thinking of it too).

This strike along this smaller surface area results in SPLITTING the piece of thin metal. This split is a breach. This is what can happen to hip & and ridges when impacted by hail.

Let’s bring it back to shingles. 3-tab shingles are not only less impact-resistant, but they are also not meant to be bent!

So as soon as you bend them, they can crack, which reduces their efficacy even more. So then, I’m sure you know where I’m going next.

Yes, true hip & ridge shingles are meant to be bent without creasing or cracking.

And all that math and physics doesn’t just apply to physical impacts by hail. It also applies to the brutal Sun’s rays. Those are just nanoscopic hammers beating your shingle, and physics still applies.

So if you're getting your roof replaced, don't cut corners to save a quick buck. Be sure you are using quality components when protecting one of your home's most important, undervalued features: your roof!

Don’t rob yourself of knowledge! Here are some more helpful articles to improve your basic knowledge of your roof.

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