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What is the difference between Architectural Shingles and Three-tab Shingles?

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

What is the difference between Architectural (dimensional) Shingles and Three-tab Shingles? Why do they look different? What is the cost difference between the two? Which one is better if I am trying to save on my roof replacement?

These are just some of the questions Homeowners ask us when requesting a quote to redo their roof. Our clients want a cost-effective way to do their roof replacement that will not break their bank or fits their current community standards.

Asphalt shingles are made from fiberglass material layered between asphalt and ceramic covered granules. The combining of these materials creates a water-resistant coating that also deflects UV light. With this base Asphalt shingles come with many variations.


Let’s look at three keys areas that differentiate the pros and cons of the two products:

o Durability

o Versatility

o Cost


Three-tab shingles only have one layer of materials, making the shingle very thin. Not so good for holding up to extreme weather for a prolonged amount of time. Architectural shingles are also called dimensional shingles or laminated shingles because there are two layers of shingle pieces laminated together to provide a dimensional look.

Due to their increased thickness, architectural shingles typically have a longer manufacturer warranty, and some brands are rated to resist higher wind speeds. In general, three-tab shingles can only handle winds up to 60 mph as opposed to its counterpart’s tolerance for 130 mph gusts. On average, the three-tab shingle comes with a warranty of 20, 25, or 30 years. Architectural shingles have minimum warranties of 30 years.


The three-tab shingle doesn’t offer much flexibility. These traditional asphalt shingles have a repeating rectangular shape separated by “slots”. They come in one shape and size and have a flat complexion. The layered effect of the architectural shingle leaves room for diverse shapes and sizes. Roofs covered in architectural shingles have an aesthetically pleasing appearance thanks to the variation in shingle sizes and shapes.


Three-tab shingles are typically less expensive than other asphalt shingle options. Architectural shingles are 35% to 50% more expensive than three-tab shingles. But all Homeowners should take into consideration that the life expectancy of the three-tab shingles is, at best, half that of architectural shingles. Making architectural shingles a better investment. Homeowners who spend less initially end up shelling out much more to install and replace three-tab options.

Closing Suggestions

Asphalt roofing shingles are reliable, affordable and among the most popular roofing material in use today. According to the Home Innovation Research Labs’ 2018 Builder and Consumer Practices Report, 70% of the volume of roofing materials used in both single and multi-family residential new construction, roof repair, and roof replacement projects were asphalt shingles.

Homeowners should only consider Three-tab shingles if they are on a tight budget. Saving a little more and going with Architectural shingles is the way to go to maximize your roof life while also providing the freedom to customize. By far Architectural shingles provide Homeowners with the freedom to make aesthetic decisions for your exterior.

If you have questions about roofing systems, or need a free estimate, feel free to contact the experts at Fresh Home Roofing. As a locally owned and operated business, we have proudly served people in South Florida for more than 30 years. Learn more about our services by calling our representatives at (866) 373-7410 today.


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