Architectural Shingles Vs 3-Tab: Pros & Cons
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Architectural Shingles vs 3-Tab: Pros & Cons

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Posted By: Roof Troopers

large colonial house with 3 tab shingle roof

There are many things to keep in mind when deciding which roofing materials to use for your new roof:

  • The climate you live in 🌦️
  • Your desired aesthetic ✨
  • The demands of your budget 💸
  • The requirements of your city and/or HOA 📋

All of these factors will help you decide whether to use shingles, metal panels, wooden shakes, or something else. However, that’s not the end of the decision-making; you also have to decide which specific version of your desired material you want to use. For example, once you know that you want to have asphalt shingles for your roof, you then need to determine whether you prefer architectural shingles vs 3-tab shingles for your home.

You might be reading this and thinking, “Wait, there are different kinds of shingles out there?” The answer is an emphatic yes. Keep reading to learn the key differences between these two kinds of shingles and the pros and cons of each.

Materials and Design

3-tab shingles close up image

3-tab shingles get their name directly from their design. They come in groups of 3 shingles, all connected by a single tab. 3-tab shingles are made of lightweight materials and are mostly comprised of asphalt. They have a coating of shingle granules on top for extra waterproofing and UV protection.

Architectural shingles, on the other hand, have more layers and materials than 3-tab shingles. They’re made of layers of fiberglass glued together with adhesives and dipped in asphalt. The shingle is then coated in small, high-quality mineral shingle granules.

Architectural shingles do not come in groups of three; they must be installed singularly on your roof.


When properly installed, asphalt shingle roofs tend to have a short to medium lifespan when compared to other roofing materials. While manufacturers claim that architectural shingles can last up to 50 years, it’s more common for them to only last two to three decades in real-world conditions. 3-tab shingles have even shorter lifespans; even under good weather conditions and with faithful upkeep, expect them to reach the end of their usable lifespan after about twenty years.

Both architectural and 3-tab shingles require routine maintenance to achieve these lifespans, including annual inspections and roof cleaning as necessary.

Because of their differences in anticipated lifespan, each shingle type carries a different length of manufacturer warranty. Most manufacturers offer 20-30 year warranties for 3-tab shingles. Architectural shingle roofs can have up to limited lifetime warranties provided by the manufacturer.


Across the board, architectural shingles are more durable than 3-tab shingles. They can hold some of the highest wind, fire, and impact resistance ratings on the market.

The extra durability of architectural shingles comes in part from their additional weight; the additional layer makes them significantly heavier than their 3-tab counterparts. If you plan on switching your home’s roof from 3-tab to architectural, make sure that your foundation can support the additional weight before beginning the reroofing.

3-tab shingles are much lighter than architectural ones. This makes them easier to install but much more susceptible to damage from wind, rain, hail, and snow.

Take note: depending on the slope of your roof, blowing wind and rain may provide particular trouble with architectural shingles, so there’s no one best option for every roof when it comes to weatherproofing. It’s best to consult with a local contractor on the specifics of your roof when choosing a material to purchase and install.


large brick wall house with architectural shingle roof

3-tab shingles are somewhat basic in appearance. All the shingles look the same, and they end up looking flat on the roof. If you like the uniform look of 3-tab shingles, then this is great! If not, architectural shingles might be a better choice for you.

The multiple layers of architectural shingles make them pop when they’re on the roof. Often, these shingles come in multiple colors to give even more depth to the appearance of your roof. In fact, architectural shingles are often referred to as dimensional shingles for this very reason. The appearance of these shingles is meant to mimic the appearance of cedar shakes for those homeowners who like a natural appearance for their roof but prefer a sturdier material than wood.

You also tend to have a lot more color and style options with architectural shingles than with 3-tab. Each year, manufacturers get better at mimicking colors found in nature, making architectural shingles a better and better substitute for natural materials like wood, slate, and tile. Designer architectural shingles are a particularly great way to raise your home’s curb appeal and overall property value without having to invest the money needed for slate, clay, wood, or metal.


3-tab shingles are cheaper than architectural shingles and offer the best option for homeowners on a strict budget. Expect to pay $2 per square foot, plus installation costs.

Architectural shingles, on the other hand, usually ring in around $5 per square foot, making them the more expensive roofing materials by far.

Keep in mind, though, that 3-tab shingles will need to be replaced sooner than architectural shingles. This means that across the same amount of time, you may end up paying more in labor costs for 3-tab shingles than you would for the equivalent number of architectural shingles.

Other things that can affect the cost of your roofing project:

  • Size and slope of your roof
  • Accessibility of your roof
  • Cost of disposing of waste materials

If you’re concerned about being able to afford your roofing project, check with your contractor to see if they offer any financing options that you could qualify for.

Architectural Shingles vs 3 Tab Shingles: Which is the Best Choice?

asphalt shingle roof with red siding on gable dormers

While many homeowners prefer the looks and durability of architectural shingles, some value the 3-tab shingles for their affordability and ease of installation. It’s up to you to look at the costs and benefits of architectural shingles vs 3-tab shingles and make the best choice for you.

No matter which product you choose, Roof Troopers are here to help you get the roof of your dreams! From our initial point of contact through the end of your project, you can count on us to provide excellent customer service, superior product installation, and transparent pricing.

Reach out to us now to schedule your full roof replacement!


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