Malarkey asphalt shingles have a strong following among roofers, especially on the West Coast and in the Pacific North West.
Malarkey shingles also get good ratings from homeowners. The consensus is that Malarkey shingles are premium and high-quality products, more expensive than traditional asphalt roofing brands like Owens Corning and GAF, backed by above-average warranties.
The brand has a reputation for quality over quantity, part of the reason it doesn’t enjoy the same name recognition as GAF and CertainTeed. Professional roofers on the West Coast know it, and we thought you should too, as you consider the best asphalt shingle brands.
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Are Malarkey Shingles the Right Choice for Your Roof?
Our research includes pros and cons, materials and installation costs, and a comparison Malarkey shingles with other popular composition shingle options in good, better, and best categories.
Here is why contractors, inspectors and homeowners give this brand ratings that are in the top tier of all shingle brands. Let’s start with what professional roofers like.
The Malarkey Secure Choice™ Roof System
While Malarkey shingles can be combined and installed with roofing products from other brands, professional roofers and homeowners have the choice of building a roof from the deck up with Malarkey products designed to work together as a complete system.
Did you know? When getting a new roof, it’s always a good idea to get at least three major components of a roofing system from the same manufacturer so that your roof can qualify for extended warranty coverage. To qualify and get the extended warranty, make sure your installer follows the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and registers the new roof on your behalf with the manufacturer.
Below is a numbered list corresponding to the roof diagram:
Generic Smart Start™ (1) starter shingles (PDF) are a product for use with all asphalt shingle brands. Heavy-duty sealant provides better adherence for protection in high winds and wind-driven rain.
Matched starter shingles (6) are available in all Malarkey shingle series for best color and style integration.
When roofers have options, they can tailor the installation to the application.
Right Start™ UDL (2) is a fiberglass underlayment (PDF) for steep-slope roofing applications. It’s a good all-purpose material for climates without extreme weather.
Arctic Seal™ (3) is an enhanced underlayment designed for roofs that are prone to ice buildup and dams (PDF). It weighs 10 times more than Secure Start™, for extra strength and leak resistance. Roofers also use this on low-slope roofs and in roof valleys.
1031 Secure Start™ Plus (4) is a synthetic underlayment (PDF) that won’t get brittle in extreme cold (to -40F) or soft when intense sun is baking the roof (to 240F).
Hip and Ridge Shingles (5)
Three options are available:
RidgeFlex™ has a lower profile ideal for 3-tab shingles. EZ-Ridge™ 8” and EZ-Ridge™ XT 10” lines have a higher profile for use with Malarkey Architectural and Designer lines.
Did you know?
Using two or more of the accessories listed below qualifies the roof for Malarkey’s Lifetime limited warranty.
Offering a lifetime warranty is appealing to roofing contractors from a marketing standpoint. Plus, it gives them confidence the roof they install will last – and Malarkey, not the roofer – will be responsible in the rare times materials do fail.
GAF has its own roof system and better warranty coverage when it is used. But the GAF system doesn’t have the options that allow Malarkey installers to choose products that will perform best for each home. Advantage Malarkey!
Malarkey Roofing Contractor Certification
The company provides training to contractors that wish to be certified installers. The contractor must meet experience criteria and then complete Malarkey training.
Three levels of certification based on training and experience are offered:
- Certified Residential Contractor
- Emerald Pro Contractor
- Emerald Premium Contractor
These certifications and recognition give homeowners confidence that the roofer has the training and experience required for proper installation.
A contractor with one of these badges might charge higher prices than an installer without certification. Is it worth it?
First, Malarkey is more likely to pay a claim rather than dispute it. It might take the installer’s word for it since the installer has been certified.
Also, Malarkey doesn’t want to alienate its certified installers. It benefits from the program, so Malarkey will often pay claims it might otherwise reject from non-certified contractors.
We recommend considering the certification as one of many factors when choosing and interviewing a roofing contractor.
You also want a company that has been in business for 10+ years. This usually demonstrates that its past work is holding up well, since poor workmanship usually pushes a company out of business within five years.
The company you choose should also have experienced crews, umbrella insurance and workers’ comp, good ratings, and reasonable costs.
The Inspectors’ Perspective on Malarkey
Inspectors and adjusters walk hundreds of roofs every year as they advise potential homebuyers or deal with insurance claims.
That said, most inspectors and adjusters find that Malarkey Class 3 (three-tab) and Class 4 (all others) shingles can withstand impact from most hail (up to two inches), falling branches and windblown debris when cheaper shingles crack.
Good Hail impact resistance: Class 3 shingles earn the rating by sustaining two hits from a 1.75” steel ball dropped from 16 feet. Class 4 shingles can withstand being hit twice in the same spot with a 2” steel ball dropped from 20’.
- Malarkey Class 2 shingles: HIGHLANDER® NEX® and HIGHLANDER® NEX® AR
- Malarkey Class 3 shingles: VISTA® and VISTA® AR
- Malarkey Class 4 shingles: LEGACY® and LEGACY® SCOTCHGARD™, and WINDSOR® SCOTCHGARD™
Note that Hail Impact resistance rating is NOT the same as manufacturer’s warranty. Malarkey shingles don’t have any hail impact damage warranty coverage, neither do shingles from other asphalt shingle manufacturers. Most roof damage claims associated with hail and wind damage are typically covered by homeowner’s insurance if you have elected the roof replacement coverage on your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you would like to have a roofing product that also has a manufacturer’s warranty coverage for hail damage specifically, then consider stone coated metal roofs.
Stain-resistant options: Inspectors also see plenty of roofs with dark algae staining. Malarkey has three series of shingles with a blend of copper-coated granules that kill algae to reduce staining. They are 3-tab Dura-Seal™ AR with a 5-year stain warranty, Highlander® NEX® AR (10 years) and Vista® AR (12 years).
Scotchgard™ coating is also available as an upgrade. Coated shingles are warrantied to resist staining for 20 years.
Pro Tip: Look around at the roofs of homes in your neighborhood. If you see roofs with dark, flowing stains, that’s algae and its effects. Consider an algae-resistant shingle. Most include an AR in the name.
Premium durability: Malarkey uses a polymer modified asphalt it calls NEX® (PDF) in several lines. The blend keeps the shingles from becoming brittle with age and cold, so they’re resistant to tearing in wind or cracking in extreme cold or when impacted. Inspections after heavy storms that include high winds and damaging hail back up this claim.
Malarkey backs its products with industry-leading warranties. The company stands behind some of its lines for 50+ years.
All its architectural and designer series (details of each are below) are backed by a lifetime warranty on materials if the house is your primary residence and 35, 40 or 50 years of coverage if it isn’t. This is exceptional among asphalt shingles.
Did you know? Malarkey has discontinued some shingle lines in the last few years including Ecoasis™ (Premium, Costa, and Sol) and The Alaskan®.
This review covers only currently produced lines, though quantities of discontinued shingles might still be available at building supply stores near you.
What Homeowners Like About Malarkey
In addition to the benefits mentioned to this point, there are other appealing reasons to consider Malarkey brand.
Attractive options in three tiers: Like most top brands, Malarkey makes basic, better, and best shingles.
Three-tab: These are traditional, single-layer shingles with a flat profile.
Dura-Seal™ AR with Nexgen polymer modified asphalt technology recently replaced the old Dura-Seal™ line.
Eight colors are produced including three that meet Cool Roof Rating Council criteria for solar-reflective roofing that reduces heat penetration, a major factor in higher energy use and cost.
Laminate: This term means “layered.” All shingles called dimensional or architectural or designer are laminated. Layers consist of fiberglass matts covered in an asphalt blend and topped with colored granules.
Malarkey makes four lines designated “laminate architectural” shingles.
The Legacy® and Legacy® Scotchgard™ series feature darker tones of rust, gray and black. Shingles are treated with the brand’s 20-year Scotchgard™ coating.
Highlander® NEX® and Highlander® NEX® AR shingles have a traditional asphalt blend, a lower cost and a shorter warranty than Legacy® and Vista®. Nine colors are available including 4 with the CRRC seal.
Enhanced installation comes with a 140mph wind warranty, while most brands have a 130mph enhanced warranty.
Tones are dark including black, gray, and brown blends. The XL line (discontinued) is 17% thicker and heavier to better achieve the look of a shake or slate roof.
Excellent warranty protection: Shingle warranties often begin with 100% coverage for several years before proration begins. Malarkey calls this the Right Start period and offers some of the longest warranty coverage in the industry (7 to 15 years, see the graphics table below).
This table provides an overview of Malarkey shingle warranties:
A Malarkey warranty is transferable once – from the original owner of the roof to the first buyer.
There are few complaints from installers and inspectors. We have not uncovered instances of major product recalls due to problems in manufacturing. There have been no class-action lawsuits, as there have been against CertainTeed, GAF, Owens Corning and IKO (all for products no longer produced and for problems now rectified).
However, here are a few concerns from a homeowner’s perspective.
Limited warranty transferability: The warranty and all its benefits can be transferred ONLY during the Right Start period. If transferred after that time, the warranty defaults to just a 2-year warranty, even if it began as a lifetime warranty.
Limited choice: Some will find this a “pro”, since a large selection like that from GAF can be overwhelming.
Malarkey has a range of shingle series and colors that is smaller than what is available the largest brands in the industry. Still, you’ll likely find a couple Malarkey options that will look fantastic on your home.
Potential warranty hassles: Most homeowners never have to make a claim based on material defects. If you do, expect a hassle dealing with ANY manufacturer.
As we’ve said, many blame the installer for issues with shingles coming off in minor windstorms or failing to seal. Most times, the manufacturer is right.
Problems with poor installation have been made worse in recent years by heavy hurricane and tropical storm activity. With so many roofs to replace, many roofing contractors rushed installation or hired inexperienced help. This is an industry-wide issue.
The solution is to work with a licensed installer with a good reputation. Choosing a company certified by the shingle brand you choose is an extra layer of protection against bad installation and potential warranty claim hassles.
Malarkey Shingles Cost per Square: Materials
These are current material prices for the most popular Malarkey shingles. Prices are listed per square, which reflects the amount of material needed to cover 100 square feet of roof surface.
3-Tab shingles: Malarkey Dura-Seal™: $73-$85
Standard dimensional shingles: Malarkey Highlander® NEX® and Highlander NEX® AR: $120-$135
Best dimensional shingles: Malarkey Legacy® and Legacy® Scotchgard™: $142-$155
Designer shingles: Malarkey Windsor® and Windsor® XL (discontinued): $158-$185
This summary table includes Malarkey shingle prices for all lines:
|Cost per Square|
|Highlander® NEX® AR||$130-$135|
|Windsor® XL (discontinued)||$165-$185|
Professional Installation Costs: $200-$350 per Square
Homes, single-story and two-sided (gable) or four-sided (hip) are the easiest to roof over, so the overall installation cost is lower. Tearing off old roofing, multi-story homes, and complex roof configurations, multiple dormers, valleys, chimneys, and skylights will add to the overall installation (professional labor) costs.
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Note: high cost of living areas and large coastal cities will generally have higher costs.
Potential additional costs include accessories and their installation. Costs below are per square.
Accessories: If you’re installing a new layer of shingles over an existing roof, then you’ll need just the underlayment, hip and ridge shingles, and flashing. The itemized cost (if it has not already been included into the overall professional installation cost cited above) would be between $10 and $40 per square, depending on the materials used and the extent of any additional flashing work required.
For new construction or complete tear-off projects, you’ll also need starter shingles for the eaves and rakes, drip-edge and gable flashing, and underlayment, ice-and-water barrier, and flashing at a cost of $20-$50 per square.
Verdict on Malarkey
Malarkey compares most closely with CertainTeed in premium quality, high-end shingle selection, and costs.
We recommend putting Malarkey on your short list of brands if you are willing to pay a slight premium for better quality and performance. — This is especially true if you have no plans of moving. The longer you stay in the home, the better value Malarkey offers.
As we’ve noted, we also recommend considering a Malarkey Certified Residential Contractor or Malarkey Emerald Contractor. Cost will be higher, but you’ll be assured of the best warranty available from Malarkey and the assurance the installer has been properly trained in installing this brand’s materials.
We can put you in touch with licensed and experienced installers including those certified by Malarkey. There is no obligation for using our referral service, even if you don’t choose to hire any of the recommended companies.
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