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 products are a premium shingle at a higher price than most, but backed by an 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. Roofers 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, costs and a comparison Malarkey shingles with other 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 roofers like.
The Malarkey Secure Choice roof system
While Malarkey asphalt shingles can be installed with roofing products from other brands, roofers and homeowners have the choice of building a roof from the deck up with Malarkey products designed to work together.
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. It’s a good all-purpose material for climates without extreme weather.
Arctic Seal Flexor (3) is an enhanced underlayment designed for roofing prone to ice buildup and dams (PDF). It weighs 10 times more than SecureStart for extra strength and leak resistance. Roofers also use this on low-slope roofs and in roof valleys.
1031 SecureStart 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 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, 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 withstand impact from hail, falling branches and windblown debris when cheaper shingles crack.
Good 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 withstand being hit twice in the same spot with a 2” steel ball dropped from 20’.
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 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 Flexor (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 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 this 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 and 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.
Highlander and Highlander AR shingles have a traditional asphalt blend, a lower cost and a shorter warranty than Legacy and Vista. Ten 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 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 a number of years before proration begins. Malarkey calls this the Right Start period and offers some of the longest 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 transfer-ability: 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 wind storms 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: Materials and Installation
These are current prices for the most popular Malarkey shingles. Prices are listed per square, which is the material needed to cover 100 square feet of roofing.
3-Tab shingles: Malarkey Dura-Seal: $73-$82
Standard dimensional shingles: Malarkey Highlander and Highlander AR: $121-$133
Best dimensional shingles: Malarkey Legacy and Legacy XL: $142-$155
Designer shingles: Malarkey Windsor and Windsor XL: $158-$170
This summary table includes Malarkey shingle prices for all lines:
|Series||Cost per Square|
Additional costs include accessories and installation. Costs below are per square.
$6-$17: Accessories. If you’re installing a new layer of shingles over an existing roof, then you’ll need just the hip and ridge shingles plus roll material for the valleys.
Cost would be $6-$10 depending on materials used.
For new construction or complete tear-off projects, then you’ll also need underlayment and starter shingles for the eaves and rakes at a cost of $12-$17 per square.
$150-$275: Base installation labor costs. Homes single-story and four-sided are the easiest to roof, so cost is lower. Tearing off old roofing, multi-story homes and complex roof configurations add to the installation labor cost.
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Note: high cost of living areas and large coastal cities will generally have higher costs.
Verdict on Malarkey
Malarkey compares most closely with CertainTeed in quality, selection and cost.
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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