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3 Tab Shingles vs. Architectural Shingles: Which Roof Is Best?
Lauren Risotto

By: Lauren Risotto on July 22nd, 2020

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3 Tab Shingles vs. Architectural Shingles: Which Roof Is Best?

roof | Asphalt Shingles


If you’re getting close to needing a new asphalt shingle roof, now is the time to pick out your shingles. Asphalt shingles come in different styles, shapes, and thicknesses, and all of these factors play a role in the appearance and longevity of the roof.

At Western States Metal Roofing, we’ve been in the roofing business for over 20 years. We are manufacturers and sellers of metal roofing, not asphalt shingles, but we know that asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing option. Often our customers decide between metal and shingles for their roofs, so we want to stay informed on the other products available on the market.

Like with most products, there is a compromise between price and quality when it comes to asphalt shingles.

In this article, we will go over both types of asphalt shingles to help you decide which would be the best fit for your home.

  • 3-Tab Shingles
  • Architectural Shingles

asphalt shingle roofing

What Are 3 Tab Shingles?

3- tab shingles, also called strip shingles, are the most basic type of asphalt shingle available. These are lightweight shingles that are made of asphalt and fiberglass. The shingles get their name because they consist of 3 tabs that are identical in size.

They are the most economical shingle and the ideal roofing choice when working with a limited budget.

3 Tab Shingle Appearance

All of the tabs on a 3-tab shingle are the same size and shape which gives the roof a very flat look.

Although usually used in neutral colors, there are now more non-traditional color options for 3-tab shingles available on the market.

3 Tab Shingle Durability

3- tab shingles are the thinnest shingle available. This makes them less resistant to harsh weather and more prone to being blown off in a storm. They’re also likely to curl upwards or buckle as they begin to age.

3 Tab Shingle Warranty

The terms of a warranty vary depending on the manufacturer, however most 3-tab shingles come with a limited warranty that can range from 10-25 years and are covered for winds up to 60 mph.

How Long Does A 3 Tab Shingle Roof Last?

How long a 3-tab shingle roof lasts really depends on the climate. On average, you can expect this roof to last 10-20 years. However, frequent exposure to high winds and stormy weather can reduce the lifespan.

It’s common to have to replace asphalt shingles that have blown off. Luckily, 3- tab shingles are easy to install/replace and this is fairly common for homeowners to do themselves.


What Are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional or laminated shingles, consist of multiple material layers of a more refined type of asphalt compared to 3-tab. They are a thicker, more durable shingle.



Architectural Shingle Appearance

Architectural shingles are also called dimensional shingles because of their appearance. The tabs are made in slightly different shapes and sizes which gives a more sophisticated, not flat appearance.

You have more design choices with architectural shingles compared to 3-tab as they are offered in a wider variety of colors and styles.

Architectural shingles are also 50% thicker than 3-tab shingles. This increases not only their dimensional look, but also has a positive effect on their durability.

Architectural Shingle Durability

Architectural shingles are better suited to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Their warranties often note that they can last in winds up to 110 mph. As mentioned earlier, 3-tab shingles are generally only covered for winds only up to 60 mph.

The extra thickness of architectural shingles helps with its durability. It makes the shingle heavier which decreases it’s chances of blowing off, curling, or buckling overtime.

Architectural Shingle Warranty

Most architectural shingles come with a minimum 30 year limited warranty. It is possible to find architectural shingles with a 50 year or even lifetime warranty. It’s important to note that shingle warranties cover manufacturer defects and are meant to protect you if your product is detective. The warranties do not cover standard wear and tear or damage caused by weather. This is why you’ll see the warranty length is generally longer than the lifespan of the shingles.

How Long Does An Architectural Shingle Roof Last?

Architectural shingles last an average of 25-30 years.


3 Tab Shingles vs. Architectural Shingles Cost Difference 

3 tab shingles are the entry level shingle roof and they are the most affordable.

3 tab shingles cost an average of $0.75 – $1.00 per square foot for material.

Architectural shingles cost an average of $1.20 – $1.80 per square foot.

Although the installation process between 3-tab and architectural shingles is the same, you may find that some installers charge slightly more for an architectural shingle roof just because it is a higher quality material.

Which Is Better: 3 Tab Or Architectural Shingles?

An asphalt shingle roof is a great choice for a homeowner that is looking for an affordable, easy to install roofing option. Deciding between the two types of shingles comes down to another choice of price or performance.

3-tab shingles are best for:

  • Budget conscious buyers

Architectural shingles are best for:

  • Increased durability/ harsher weather
  • More color choices/ design options


For more information on asphalt shingle roofing, we recommend checking out our other articles:

The Top 5 Advantages Of An Asphalt Shingle Roof

7 Common Problems With Asphalt Shingle Roofs


Metal vs. Shingle Guide Download

Metal Roofing Learning Cener

About Lauren Risotto

Lauren is the Content Manager at Western States Metal Roofing and provides insight on content creation and product promotions.