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GAF Timberline versus Elk Prestique. What’s the difference between these two heavy-hitter laminate composition shingle brands?

Have you ever been in the market for a new roof or roof repair and slightly confused about the terms Timberline and Elk Prestique?

If so, you’re not alone. Here’s the short answer to the mystery surrounding these two icons of the residential roofing world: Timberline and Prestique are simply two different brand names of two different popular laminate composition shingles, made by two different manufacturers.

The GAF Corporation makes the Timberline shingle, and Elk is the company that makes the Prestique shingle.

At least, that’s the way things used to be, not so very long ago. But GAF and Elk have merged, forming the GAF/Elk Corporation.

And the mystique about Prestique and Timberline should soon be just an historical blip on the residential roofing radar screen. The two titans and one-time competitors have joined forces to produce the official Timberline/Prestique product line, offering the best of both worlds in laminate composition shingles.

But for many years, relatively speaking, consumers looking for a laminate composition shingle in the popular 30 year warranty range were often offered the GAF Timberline, and then later the Elk Prestique, to the exclusion of other available (and just as suitable) brands – causing no small confusion in the land of laminates that’s persisted to this day.

First, we should say that most homes nowadays have composition shingles, and there’s essentially two types, or styles, of composition shingles - laminates and “three-tabs.”

Three-tabs are the smooth-surfaced, 20 year warranty economy composition shingles (the ones with all the vertical lines).

Laminates are the textured, thick-looking and higher priced 30 year warranty (and up) composition shingles.

Secondly, of these two styles of composition shingles, laminates have become by far the most popular. They’re also called Two-ply, Dimensional, Architectural, and Designer.

Laminates were introduced as a lower-priced and more fireproof alternative to cedar shingles. (Notice the word ‘Timber’ in Timberline.) With their “weathered wood” look and color, they quickly grew in popularity with both homeowners and builders. Laminates now don the tops of giant subdivisions, country homes, and commercial strip malls across the U.S.

One of the very first laminate composition shingles was the popular Timberline brand from the GAF Corporation, and the term ‘Timberline’ became synonymous with laminate composition shingles in general.

In other words, the GAF Corporation was in the right place at the right time, and the name ‘Timberline’ went generic. Just like people referring to a bandage by the brand name BAND-AID. Or a photocopy being called a Xerox. So, by the late ‘70s or thereabouts, “Give me a Timberline” had come to mean “Give me a laminate.”

(And a growing number of customer requests for that “Timberline look” were sometimes filled simply by substituting any one of a number of increasingly available and suitable laminate composition shingles offered on the market.)

The Timberline success story spawned numerous copycats, but none reached the pinnacle of success enjoyed by the Elk Corporation and their ‘Prestique’ product line of laminate composition shingles.

Elk’s new heavily-promoted brand of laminate composition shingles was hugely popular in the South and Southwest, and the term ‘Prestique’ soon got the same coveted generic treatment as their famous Timberline competitor. And by the early ‘90s, to many people “Give me that Prestique shingle,” just like “Give me that Timberline shingle,” came to mean “Give me a laminate composition shingle.”

Adding to the confusion, Prestique was often fondly but mistakenly called ‘Prestige.’ Also, laminates by this time were finally being referred to by their more proper (and non-generic) titles, like Dimensional and Architectural.

Finally, was there a dime’s worth of difference between Timberline and Prestique? And does it really matter anymore, with the advent of the GAF/Elk line (30 year warranty and up) of laminate composition shingles?

Apples to apples, and warranty to warranty, Timberline and Prestique are, (or were), pretty much the same. Different contractors had different preferences, but factors such as whatever was in stock, price, etc. also figured prominently in which of the two brands got dropped in one’s driveway after the contract was signed.

Just by way of anecdote, in the NASA area back in the ‘70s, a lot of cedar wood roofs (including many astronaut’s homes) were nailed over with the then-new Timberlines, and then in the ‘90s the same roofs were re-done with a lot of Prestique (and other brands).

So ... if you need a new composition shingle roof, and you want that ‘Prestige’ shingle, or that ‘Timberline look,’ do yourself a favor – just specify a laminate composition shingle.

Or a Dimensional. Or Architectural. Or Two-Ply. (They all mean the same thing.) And then feel free to talk about brands, and colors, and warranties. Your roofer or builder will know what you want. (They might even be impressed.) But if they do seem a bit confused, just ask for that good old, or rather new, Timberline/Elk Prestique look.

You can see a pretty decent sampling of laminate composition shingles plus read about choosing a laminate composition shingle color and all things roofing at eLocalRoofer.com.

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