Home Roofing 3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles: A Guide for Homeowners
Roof shingles on a home

3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles: A Guide for Homeowners

If you’re in the market for a new roof, it can be overwhelming to see all the different types of shingles out there.We’ll focus on the two main types of asphalt shingles: 3-tab and architectural. 

Let’s explore the differences between the two and help you determine the best choice for your new roof. 

What Are 3-Tab Shingles?

Three-tab shingles are commonly used in today’s homes and are an affordable roofing option for many homeowners. They are made from a single layer of asphalt with three evenly shaped tabs. 

Traditional 3-tab shingles are around 20 to 25% less expensive than architectural shingles. They are also easy to install because 3-tab shingles fit together like puzzle pieces, creating a uniform look. Then, they’re nailed into the roof deck. Additionally, they’re easy to repair.

When considering 3-tab shingles, weighing the pros and cons is essential. 

Pros of 3-tab shingles:

  • Budget-friendly and more affordable
  • Easy installation process
  • Wide color selection
  • 25-year warranty

Cons of 3-tab shingles:

  • Lower durability compared to other roofing options
  • Less wind resistant.
  • Less desirable for higher-end homes as it doesn’t enhance the home’s value 
  • Limited design options – Lack a natural look that other shingles can offer.

Overall, 3-tab shingles are a practical and cost-effective choice for many homeowners, but they might not be suitable for you if you’re seeking a more unique and durable roofing option. Are architectural shingles better than 3-tab shingles? Let’s find out.

What Are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural shingles are also known as laminate or dimensional shingles. They are a type of roofing shingle that is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners because they’re made of multiple layers of asphalt that are fused together to create a thicker, more textured shingle. The finished product is a three-dimensional appearance on the roof.

Architectural shingles are installed using a similar process to 3-tab shingles, with each shingle nailed to the roof deck, but it’s a bit more complex, so the labor costs are usually higher.

When considering architectural shingles, weigh the pros and cons and compare them to the benefits and disadvantages of 3-tab shingles.

Pros of Architectural Shingles:

  • More durable than 3-tab shingles
  • More wind-resistant than 3-tab shingles
  • Natural-looking appearance
  • Varied design options, including ones that look like other roofing materials
  • Most come with a limited lifetime warranty

Cons of Architectural Shingles:

  • Higher cost than 3-tab shingles
  • Usually heavier than 3-tab shingles and put more pressure on the structure of a home
  • More complex installation process than 3-tab shingles
  • Weather conditions have to be right for installation
  • More consideration needs to be given to ensure the house can bear the load of heavier architectural shingles

Overall, architectural shingles are an excellent choice for homeowners who want a durable, natural-looking roof with a wide range of design options. 

However, there may be better choices, such as 3-tab shingles, for those on a tight budget or for smaller structures that might cave under the weight of the shingles.

How to Compare 3-Tab and Architectural Shingles

When comparing 3-tab and architectural shingles, there are several criteria to consider, such as cost, durability, warranty, and aesthetics.


According to, the average price difference on a 1,600 sq. ft. roof between 3-tab vs. architectural shingles ranges from $800 to over $1,100. 

On average, 3-tab shingles cost around $0.75 to $0.90 per square foot. For a 1,500 sq. ft. roof, you would spend from $1,125 to $1,350 just on the shingles. 

On the other hand, architectural shingles cost about $1.20 to $1.80 per sq. ft, so the materials for a 1,500 sq. ft. roof range from $1,800 to $2,250. 

Then, you have to take into consideration the cost of labor. In addition to installing the shingles, other labor costs include tearing off and removing old roofing, underlayment, and other necessary components of the roof system. 

Most roofing companies charge around $2.30 to $2.50 per sq. ft. for 3-tab shingles. Meanwhile, the cost of installation for architectural shingles starts at about $3.50 per sq. ft. since a more premium material is used and the installation process is slightly more complex.


Aside from the cost, the durability of the shingles is the next most significant factor to consider. In mild climates, 3-tab shingles last as long as 12 to 15 years. However, regular severe weather can shorten their lifespan to about seven to 10 years. 

On the other hand, because of their composition, architectural shingles typically last at least 18 to 20 years because they stand up better to heat, snow, ice, rain, and wind. Under optimal conditions, architectural shingles sometimes last up to 30 years. 

One of the biggest factors affecting their durability is these shingles’ wind resistance ratings. Generally speaking, 3-tab shingles are rated for winds up to 60 miles per hour. Comparatively, architectural shingles are rated for wind speeds between 80 to 120 miles per hour.


The warranties for roofing shingles are a good indication of their overall value. For instance, 3-tab shingles have a 25-year warranty. In contrast, architectural shingles, known for their increased durability, usually come with limited lifetime warranties. 

A more extended warranty means greater peace of mind for homeowners, making architectural shingles a solid investment for those seeking a durable, long-lasting roofing option. Conversely, a shorter warranty means you’ll have to replace your roof more often.


While these two types of asphalt shingles are slightly similar in appearance, the difference is easy to spot once you become familiar with them. Three-tab shingles are flat, and they have a single-tab shape and size. They are uniform, which gives them a flat look.

Architectural shingles provide a more dimensional look to the roof because they are multi-layered. They can be made to resemble cedar shakes, or they can be constructed to simulate the look of slate (without the added weight of real slate). Architectural shingles have other design choices as well.

Consider taking your preferences into account and decide how important aesthetics are when deciding which shingles are best for you.

How to Choose 3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles

Now that we’ve discussed about the difference between 3 tab and architectural shingles, there are a few things to remember when weighing architectural shingles vs regular shingles. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Climate: Consider the weather conditions and the temperature fluctuations in your area. Colder climates can cause your roofing shingles to become more brittle and prone to cracking, while heat can cause warping and blistering of your shingles, particularly with 3-tab shingles. But, architectural shingles tend to handle the elements better. So if you live in a geographical area with high winds, heavy rain, ice, heat, or hail, you’ll get increased durability and wind resistance with architectural shingles than you would with 3-tab shingles.
  2. Home Style: Consider the architectural style and color scheme of your home. Three-tab shingles might be a better fit for simpler, more traditional home styles, while architectural shingles can add dimension and more visual interest to modern homes.
  3. Neighborhood: Consider your home’s curb appeal and resale value compared to other houses in your neighborhood. Choose a roofing material that fits in with the styles of other homes in the neighborhood. Doing so can boost your home’s value and marketability.
  4. Budget: Obviously, you’ll need to consider your available funds, but don’t overlook the return on investment when it comes to re-roofing your home. While 3-tab shingles are typically more affordable upfront, architectural shingles are a better long-term investment due to their increased durability and longer warranties.

By considering these factors, you can choose the shingle option that best fits your needs and budget while ensuring that your roof is functional and aesthetically appealing. 


When deciding on a roofing material, it’s important to carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of 3-tab vs. architectural shingles. This will help you make the best decision for your home and budget. 

Consider factors like the climate you live in, overall aesthetic of your home and the surrounding neighborhood, and most importantly, the potential return on investment you gain from selecting a quality roofing material. You want to ensure that your roof is beautiful and functional in the near and long term.

A seasoned roofing contractor like All Star Home can help you determine which type of shingle is best for you and your home. For more information or to set up a free estimate for your roofing needs, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling 919-344-0379.