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Exploring the Differences: Architectural Shingles vs 3-Tab Asphalt

An aerial view of an asphalt shingle roof on a residential home.

If you’re starting new home construction or considering a roof replacement, you’ve probably already given some thought to roofing materials. Most homeowners opt for shingles, but not all shingles are made equal. So what’s the difference between architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles? Keep reading to find out.

What Are 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles?

3 Tab Asphalt Shingles

Three-tab shingles are fiberglass base mats made of a strong mineral granule coat. Even though these shingles are lightweight, they are strong enough to withstand gale-force winds and gusts of up to 70 mph. Three-tab shingles look like three separate pieces, but they’re not. They’re one solid piece designed to give your roof a flat, clean look. These types of shingles are also among the most affordable options on the market.

What Are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional or laminate shingles, are thicker and multi-layered. They come in varied shapes and sizes, creating a textured and dimensional appearance that often mimics the look of slate or cedar shakes. Because of this, architectural shingles are the more visually appealing choice of the two. These shingles can also handle strong winds of up to 120 mph.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles


  • Affordability: Three-tab asphalt shingles are an attractive option for budget-conscious homeowners. With a lower initial cost, they offer a cost-effective solution for roofing projects.
  • Availability: These shingles are widely available and commonly used in residential roofing projects. Their popularity ensures easy access and availability in the market, making them a convenient choice for homeowners.
  • Minimal Maintenance: One of the key advantages of 3-tab asphalt shingles is their ease of maintenance. They require minimal upkeep and are relatively straightforward to repair if damaged.


  • Limited lifespan: Despite their affordability, 3-tab asphalt shingles have a shorter lifespan compared to architectural shingles. Homeowners may find themselves replacing 3-tab shingles sooner rather than later.
  • Less Durable: 3-tab shingles are more susceptible to damage from wind, rain, and hail. Their simpler construction makes them less durable than architectural shingles, which may cause early replacement.
  • Less Visually Appealing: Three-tab shingles create a flat surface, which may not be the look a homeowner is going for. They lack dimension and visual appeal compared to architectural shingles.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Architectural Shingles

Asphalt Shingles


  • Enhanced Durability: Architectural shingles are known for their durability, thanks to their thicker construction and resistance to environmental factors. They can withstand extreme winds, hail impact, and UV damage better than 3-tab shingles.
  • Aesthetic Versatility: One of the standout features of architectural shingles is their versatile appearance. With a wide range of colors and styles available, homeowners have plenty of options to choose from to complement their personal style. Whether you prefer the look of slate, wood shakes, or something else, you can achieve it with architectural shingles.
  • Longer Lifespan: If your architectural shingles were installed properly, they could last over 50 years. Three-tab shingles only last between 15 and 30 years.


  • Higher cost: While architectural shingles are more durable and aesthetically appealing, they typically come with a higher upfront cost. Homeowners may need to budget for the initial investment of architectural shingles, however, it’s an investment that lasts a lifetime.
  • Heavier weight: Due to their thicker construction, architectural shingles are heavier than 3-tab asphalt shingles. That being said, additional structural support may be required.


Homefix’s expert roofers can install both architectural and 3-tab shingle roofs. Still not sure what roofing material is right for you? Chat with a roofing professional about what option is right for you and your household.

Differences Between Architectural Shingles and 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles

Architectural and 3-tab shingles are both considered asphalt shingles, but there are a few key differences between the two. To start, architectural shingles are bonded with asphalt sealant, making them incredibly sturdy and durable. Architectural shingles come in various shapes and sizes, can be tailored to fit your desired look, and can last upwards of 50 years or more.

Three-tab shingles are not as aesthetically pleasing as architectural shingles. Despite being durable, these types of shingles aren’t as strong as architectural shingles. When installed correctly, 3-tab shingles can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years.

How To Choose Between Architectural Shingles and 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles

If you’re deciding between 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles, you have a few factors to consider. Firstly, think about your budget. Do you have any budget constraints that may keep you from investing in architectural shingles? If so, a 3-tab shingle roof may work in your favor.

Next, consider your desired look. Do you want a visually appealing roof? Additionally, consider your local climate and environmental factors, such as rainfall and temperature. The last factor you should think about is long-term durability and maintenance. Architectural shingles last decades and require less maintenance compared to 3-tab asphalt shingles.

When it comes down to it, architectural shingles are the better investment so long as you’re able to pay a higher upfront cost. In the end, architectural shingles will pay for themselves.

Ready To Upgrade Your Roof?

Choosing shingles for your roof isn’t an easy decision. Every homeowner will have their own needs and preferences; that’s why Homefix offers free consultations and estimates to help you determine the best roofing material for your home. The best part is that we offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Our roofers are GAF-certified and ready to install your next architectural or 3-tab shingle roof. Get started with Homefix and book your free estimate online today.