Architectural Shingles vs 3-Tab Shingles—Which One is Better? 100%

If you’re getting ready to replace your roof, you want to be certain that the materials you select for the job to ensure it is going to last. Putting a new roof on your home is not an insignificant job, costing both time and money to accomplish. We have explained the characteristics between different types of roofing materials in another article. Now let’s lead the discussion further on Asphalt Shingles. 

When it comes to re-roofing your existing house or even installing a new roof, asphalt shingles is the most homeowner’s cheapest option. The two most popular asphalt shingle options are architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles. Where architectural shingles give your building more variations, more roof shape customizability, and better longevity. The 3-tab shingles are more common and cheaper. 


What is an Architectural Shingle?

Architectural shingles, also known as new dimensional shingles, are an excellent product known for their strength and durability. This type of shingle is has a top coat laminate to protect the composite materials layer. This added layer of protection holds granules together against inclement weather better. The laminate also serves to add some sheen to the finished roof, increasing its beauty while also ensuring greater longevity.

Architectural shingles are comprised of a base material of fiberglass that is then enriched with minerals that are encased in ceramic before being embedded in asphalt to create a water-resistant surface. The shingles are layered to ensure better water protection. This is what gives architectural shingles the depths normal 3-tab shingle lack. Architectural shingles are designed to be a more durable version of the traditional asphalt shingles. They also contain composite materials to provide better fire resistance, an extremely attractive bonus feature.

Architectural shingles has many custom shapes and sizes to enable unique roof design. They are thicker and heavier than their traditional 3-Tab counterparts due to their construction. Using architectural shingles give houses customized look and add character to a home by adding both depth and “dimension” through their refraction of light and shadows.

Architectural shingles are 20% more expensive than the 3-tab shingle. Among the benefits of architectural shingles are:

  • Typically backed by warranties ranging from 25-50 years.
  • Designed to provide protection against winds of up to 120 mph.
  • Damage resistance from rain and snow.
  • Do not fade and resist common moisture problems such as the accumulation of mold.
  • Last longer and increase a home’s overall resale value.
  • Can be installed on any size home regardless of roof shape.


What is a 3-Tab Shingle?

3-Tab shingles take their name from the fact that they are comprised of three small tabs with a connected top. Each tab is measured at 12” in width for a total of 36” per shingle. Over the years, technological advancement allowed conventional 3-Tab shingles to achieve lifetime defect warranty comparable to architectural shingles. However, their warranties often fall short because the life span doesn’t typically reach the manufacturer’s standard. 3-Tab shingles are similar to architectural shingles in that they are asphalt-based and designed to repel water to increase the longevity of the roof.

While architectural shingles are available in different sizes and shapes, 3-Tab shingles have one standard size. Since their design is simpler, they are also made of a lighter weight construction with one layer of asphalt and one layer of granules. They are typically much thinner than architectural shingles, and thus are not as effective at standing up to high winds, physical impact and ice damming. Thankfully, Vancouver’s moderate west coast weather does not suffer from high winds or sub zero weather for long periods of time.

The advantages of using 3-Tab shingles for roof construction are:

  • Lower cost and more budget-friendly for those who need a new roof but have limited resources.
  • 3-Tab shingles are required for the initial row when installing a new roof even if architectural shingles will be used as the main construction material.
  • Many roofs already have 3-Tab shingles, making it easier to simply purchase more for repairs rather than replacing an entire roof.
  • Also comes in many color choices

In short, if you are looking for longevity, then architectural shingles is the way to go. 3-tab shingle cost less up front but more later on. 

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