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What Is the Difference Between 3 Tab and Architectural Shingles?

three tab architectural shingles

Homeowners are often surprised when they hear about how many different options there are for asphalt shingles. They look so similar that most people assume that there are only one or two kinds.

Let’s take a look at the two main types of shingles and the pros and cons of each kind.

Comparing different types of roof shingles 

Asphalt shingles are usually used for residential buildings. Before a roof replacement, decide whether to use 3-Tab shingles or Architectural style shingles since there are significant differences between them.

What are three-tab shingles?

These shingles are basic and widely used. They provide solid performance and are a budget-friendly option. Every shingle is cut into three equal “tabs”—the part of the shingle that you can see after it is installed. Every shingle is the same size, thickness, and shape, which gives the roof a uniform look.

What are architectural shingles?

These shingles are sometimes called dimensional shingles. They look distinctive and give a more sophisticated look. They are not cut into tabs but have pieces of asphalt in various widths laminated to the asphalt shingle with a sealant. This gives it a variation in thickness and shading, which resembles the random shadows and sizes that can be seen in a wood shake or slate roof. These shingles are thicker and can weigh 50% more than the 3-tab kind.

The disadvantages and advantages of 3-tab and architectural shingles


To complement your home, both types are available in various colors. Due to the way architectural shingles are made, they can have a wider variety of shades, texture, and shapes.

A three-tab shingle roof has a uniform style and can look flat. This is why architectural shingles are more visually appealing than 3-tab shingles. Also, architectural shingles can look similar to premium materials like slate or cedar, which gives the home an upscale look.


Architectural shingles are less likely to curl since they are thicker.

A standard 3-tab asphalt shingle roof will probably need replacement after 15-20 years. However, the thickness of the architectural shingles makes them significantly more durable. They can be expected to last about 50% longer than 3-tab shingles.

Most three-tab shingles only come with a 20-25 year limited warranty, while architectural shingles may come with 40 years, 50 years, or even a Lifetime warranty. (This varies by manufacturer, installation procedures, and product lines.)


Three-tab shingles may cost less than architectural shingles and are therefore often used when the budget is critical. Typically, architectural shingles cost about 25% more than 3-tab shingles, but they are now considered the standard for high-end homes. Due to their look and quality, architectural shingles may be the best type to use if you want to increase the overall value of your house.

Do you need help choosing between 3 tab and architectural shingles? Schedule a free estimate with us.

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