Architectural vs. 3-Tab Shingles: Should You Upgrade?

When considering a home upgrade, your first thought likely goes to brand new kitchen appliances, flooring, or quartz countertops. Although a roof upgrade often comes last to the more glamorous improvements, it is certainly an important one. Replacing your roof’s 3- tab asphalt shingles with a more durable option is just as much about functionality as they are cosmetic. Let’s explore why upgrading would be worth the investment.

3-Tab shingles are the most basic asphalt shingle style—distinguished by cutouts (tabs) made along their lower edge—thus giving them one consistent size and shape. They lack the dimension and the durability of architectural shingles, while not being significantly less in price. The single layer of materials makes this option more vulnerable to deterioration from hail and high winds.

Architectural shingles are created by laminating two shingle strips together to form a dimensional shingle. The tabs on these shingles come in various sizes and shapes, mimicking a unique look similar to wood shake, but with the durability of asphalt. Being composed of multiple layers of refined asphalt and granules laminated together, architectural shingles possess a certain durability and longevity that requires less maintenance than 3-tab shingles.

Benefits of Architectural Shingles


Architectural shingles come in a variety of colors, textures, and pattern choices. They can be crafted with a depth and texture that gives them a high-quality appearance without the maintenance or expense of pricier products. From an aesthetic perspective, this option is guaranteed to increase your home’s curb appeal and resale value.

Extra support built under architectural shingles is not necessary, so despite being heavier, they actually put less stress on your roof than traditional 3-tab shingles. This convenience allows almost any home to be suitable for the array of styles provided, while saving you a great deal on roof maintenance costs.


Although the difference between three-tab and architectural shingles seems superficial, the superior durability of the latter product is unarguable. With nearly twice the thickness, architectural shingles are better able to hold out against harsh weather conditions. Architectural shingles—known to withstand winds up to 120 mph—maintain sturdier composition, giving them a higher wind resistance than standard 3-tab, which typically only resist no more than 60 mph winds. Additionally, architectural shingles are more fire resistant.


Although architectural shingle thickness allows them to outlive standard 3-tab shingles, durability is not the only characteristic that plays into their longevity. With this upgrade, you’ll receive up to a limited-lifetime warranty, much higher than that of the standard.

When considering maintenance, architectural shingles require far less than the standard. Although they usually cost around 10–15% more per square than 3-tab shingles, their longevity results in savings over time.

To learn more about upgrades, and to determine if the decision is right for your roof, get in touch with one of our project managers today.

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