Shingles are the most common way to roof a home in the United States, Canada and most western countries. Because of this, there are several manufacturers that have been in the industry for several years, with some of them, like GAF, having more than one hundred years in the business.
If you need to buy shingles, it is better to get the advice of someone who is been in the business for years, preferably someone you know and trust and that is not going to eventually sell you the shingles. You are more likely to get an honest opinion from someone who is not interested in earning a commission.
You can also search the different suppliers websites to give you an idea of what types of shingles there are as well as the different colors and designs. You must be prepared that the range and variety of choices is overwhelming. If you do not have a sense of aesthetics or you are not clear of what you want, it would be a good idea to have someone help you. If someone is going to live with you in that house, then you should definitely go through the catalogs and the websites with him or her along.
It is very important not to skip this part. You will have a much easier time speaking with a representative and avoiding being sold something you might regret it in the future if you know in advance what you want. Moreover, once you buy shingles, you are stuck with them for the following 30 or 40 years, so it is very important to get the shingles you really like.
It is also a good idea to compare different suppliers in order to see the availability and prices they offer. Depending on your roof and the type of shingles you want, the price can change greatly. In addition to the price, you should also check availability, delivery and installation. Most brands will have a list of licensed contractors which they work with. While these might be more expensive than an independent contractor, they usually involve a long term guarantee that you might want to consider. Most shingle manufacturers would not guarantee their products if they are not installed by their licensed contractors.
Finally, while watching catalogs online is a good place to give you an idea of the shingles, make sure you ask the manufacturer to let you see an actual shingle before buying. Different monitors may have settings that change slightly the color of the shingles when they are displayed onscreen. While this might not make a lot of difference with just one shingle, it will be very noticeable when the whole roof has been installed.