Architectural vs. 3-tab Shingles: Pros and Cons

architectural vs. 3-tab shingles

Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing solutions for US households. They are relatively affordable, have a long life span, and are durable even in the most demanding conditions. When it comes to the types of asphalt shingles, two variations stand out – architectural vs. 3-tab shingles. 

Before choosing one of the two options, you should know the essential features of each. On this page, we’ll make a detailed comparison of architectural vs. 3-tab shingles to determine the pros and cons of each and help you decide which of the two materials is the better option for your household.

Characteristics of Architectural vs. 3-tab Shingles

Before we can perform a direct comparison of the two, we should first know the crucial characteristics of architectural and 3-tab shingles. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each of the two types of asphalt shingles:

  • Architectural Shingles — Architectural (dimensional) shingles contain no cutouts. Instead, their lower portions are laminated with an extra layer of asphalt. This layer gives them a dimensional look. Although asphalt shingles are one of the most durable roofing materials, they are not recommended for low-sloped roofs. 
  • 3-tab Shingles — 3-tab shingles are a roofing solution used for decades. They’ve always been regarded as one of the most affordable roofing solutions in the US. These shingles are recognizable by their distinct cutouts (tabs) all along their lower edge. This gives each shingle the appearance of being three separate shingles instead of just one. 

Architectural vs. 3-tab Shingles Direct Comparison

All asphalt shingles have a somewhat similar structure. They’re made from fiberglass layered between asphalt and ceramic-covered granules. Besides this fundamental similarity, the asphalt shingle varieties can differ significantly in some specific aspects. 

Since we’re only focused on the two main types of asphalt shingles on this page, we’ll stick only to the pros and cons of these two types of asphalt shingles. Let’s compare the two roofing solutions through several different criteria to determine which material is better:

Life Span and Warranty

3-tab shingles are made from a single layer of the materials we’ve talked about above. Architectural shingles consist of two layers laminated together. This makes them more durable against the elements. It also means that they can last longer than the thin, one-layer 3-tab shingles. 

Shingle roof durability is one of the most significant factors to pay attention to when choosing a new roof. Depending on the climate, architectural shingles can last between 20 and 30 years. However, the latter number is only to be expected in optimal conditions. By contrast, 3-tab shingles are only expected to last between seven and ten years in Florida’s climate.

In line with that, the roofing material with the longest expected lifespan will also come with a better warranty. As the roofing solution with a shorter lifespan, 3-tab shingles will, on average, come with a warranty ranging from 20 to 30 years, depending on the manufacturer. 

Compared to this, architectural shingles offer a significantly longer warranty as the most durable roofing solution, usually up to 50 years. In some cases, you can even obtain a lifespan warranty for your architectural shingle roof.

Wind Resistance

In areas prone to high winds, such as Florida, wind resistance is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a roofing material. 3-tab shingles can generally withstand winds up to 60 mph. Architectural shingles are heavier and, as such, have a higher wind rating than 3-tab ones. They’re typically rated for winds of up to 120 mph. In terms of wind resistance, architectural shingles are the clear winner.

Aesthetic Value

3-tab shingles have a simple, uniform, and flat look. They come in one size and shape and don’t offer homeowners a lot of room and flexibility for customization. Architectural shingles are more attractive in comparison, as they provide a layered look that leaves quite a bit of space for implementing diverse shapes and sizes. Moreover, homeowners can choose between different colors and textures to create a stand-out roof.


The material’s overall cost is a significant consideration for many homeowners when deciding on a roofing solution. Calculating your roof’s cost is a crucial step to take before undertaking this demanding project.

3-tab shingles are the more viable option from the financial perspective, as they are significantly more affordable than architectural shingles. You can expect to pay around $30 for a single bundle of 3-tab shingles. 

Architectural shingles are approximately 50 percent more expensive and are around $45 per bundle. That said, with the features and characteristics we’ve discussed above, the higher price point also comes with the features that justify it. 

If you install 3-tab shingles, you’ll be spending less upfront, but the costs will catch up to you down the line. Conversely, if you opt for architectural shingles, you’ll be shelling out more money initially but saving more in the long term.

A Quick Takeaway on Architectural vs. 3-tab Shingles

It’s important to remember that each type of asphalt shingle has its distinct strengths and weaknesses. With that in mind, your needs, preferences, and resources should all play a role in your decision-making process. 

If all of this sounds overwhelming, there’s a simple rule of thumb you can stick to. If you’re renovating your roof on a tight budget, you should stick to 3-tab shingles. On the other hand, if you have a little more to spend, consider architectural shingles. They offer you more room for customization and will make your home more aesthetically appealing.

Hopefully, this page has helped you determine which of the two options is the better choice for you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experienced and friendly experts are eager to help you pick the best solution for your roofing. 

Contact us to get a free roof estimate. Call 813-373-9088 or fill out our quick online form.

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