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3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles – What’s Best for Your Roof?

Posted on March 11, 2024

3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles – What’s Best for Your Roof?

A roof is incredibly important because it protects everything beneath it from harsh weather conditions and external elements. One common, durable material used in roofing covers millions of homes globally: asphalt shingles. But do you know that there are many types of asphalt shingles available on the market? So, when you want to install them on your roof and ask your contractor about it, you need to be specific.

Today, we compare two popular types of roofing shingles, 3-tab vs. architectural shingles, so that you know what’s what and can make an informed decision for your home. 

What Are 3-Tab Shingles?

Stepping into the first of our main topics: 3-tab shingles. As its name suggests, this type comprises one flat layer with three distinctive tabs or cut-outs along its lower edge, creating the appearance of three separate pieces. Famed for their cost-saving features and simple design, it’s no wonder why so many homeowners opt for this classic option when re-roofing their homes.

3-Tab Shingles
3-Tab Shingles

What Are Architectural Shingles?

On the other hand stands the mighty contender: the architectural or dimensional shingle, an upgrade from conventional 3-tab varieties. These feature a multi-dimensional texture offering a richer visual appeal. They also have an extended lifespan that is attributed to heavier construction materials used during manufacturing.

Despite being relatively costlier than the simplistic 3-tab shingles, the elegant beauty they add to structures by emulating traditional materials, like wood shakes, certainly captivates homeowners, contributing to its high demand worldwide.

In the following sections, I will take you through a detailed comparison of 3-tab vs. architectural shingles. We will look at various parameters such as cost, durability and aesthetic appeal—all of which can influence your final decision. 

architectural shingle
Architectural Shingles

Differences Between 3-Tab and Architectural Shingles

Choosing a roofing material can be complicated. To help your decision-making process, let’s dive into all the main differentiating factors between 3-tab and architectural shingles.

Material Composition and Structure

First, the structural design of these two shingle types varies significantly. 3-Tab shingles consist of a single-layer of material with distinct tabs. These cut-outs make them appear as three separate pieces when you install them. Since only one layer is used, 3-tab roof shingles are far lighter than other roofing materials, however this also makes them less durable.

Unlike the relatively simplistic structure of 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles have a multi-dimensional texture and depth. They consist of a heavy base bonded with two or sometimes three layers of refined asphalt. The top layer is then coated with granules to provide more resistance against damage.

Aesthetics and Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is increasingly important in today’s world. Everyone wants the best looking roof and this is the area where architectural roofing shingles really come into their stride. The difference in the visual appeal is often cited by homeowners who choose architectural shingles over the 3-tab variant. 

As you know, these shingles have a multidimensional design. This creates a distinct shadowed appearance due to overlapping compounds. This profile tends to create an aesthetically pleasing roofline. What’s more is that these shingles can mimic the look of classic wood shake or slate roofs, which are otherwise very expensive. 

On the other hand, 3-tab shingles present clean lines that blend well with traditional home styles. These create a simple, uniform look but may be considered bland compared to other material options.

Lifespan Comparison

When talking about the lifespan differences between these roofing materials, architectural shingles take home the trophy. In optimal weather conditions or mild climates, your 3-tab roof could last anywhere from 15 to up to about 20 years. This is pretty average, and might not be the best option if you want your roof to last for quite a while. 

On the other hand, the architectural variety promises durability typically ranging from 25 to 30 years. Their thicker base mat and multiple layers make them able to withstand harsh environmental conditions better.

Wind Resistance Ratings

Wind load capacity is another aspect that you need to consider when you decide which material will go on your roof. 

Talking about the ratings, architectural shingles outperform their competitors. While both types adhere tightly to the roof deck for protection against wind uplift, architectural ones are heavier owing to their layered construction, allowing them to withstand winds up to 130 mph. Dimensional shingles manufactured by top brands often come with wind warranties as well.  

Typically, 3-tab shingles are rated for wind speeds up to 60 to 80 mph, and they generally do not come with wind warranties. 

Color Options and Color Retention

As we know, how your roof looks is also important. Both of these asphalt shingles have a variety of color options to offer. However, you will see that architectural shingles retain color for longer and have more depth. Also, this option comes in shades that mimic the look of the slate or wood. 

Also Read: 9 Popular GAF Timberline Shingle Colors Of 2023

Warranty Variations

As you might expect, the architectural option generally offers more substantial warranty protection, usually limited lifetime warranties or those stretching between 30 and 50 years. Alternatively, the average warranty period you might get with a standard 3-tab shingle roof often extends around 20 to 25 years.

Regarding other warranties, architectural shingles are more likely to come with wind and algae-resistant warranties. Some of them are impact rated as well. 

Cost Analysis

Despite the many tangible benefits of architectural shingles, they do come at a higher upfront cost compared to their simpler counterpart. However, it’s essential to bear in mind that their superiority in durability and extended lifespan could save your wallet in the long run, plus they increase property resale value significantly.

So, if you’re wondering whether to choose 3-tab shingles or architectural shingles based on price, the latter might initially cause a slightly heftier dip in your pocket. But considering the quality and value over time, this option clearly represents an investment with good returns!

Growth Forecasts for 3-Tab and Architectural Shingles in the Upcoming Years

You don’t install a roof too often, so it’s better to understand the future of roofing trends regarding both 3-tab and architectural shingles before you make your decision.                         

The global market for asphalt shingles is projected to reach $9.5 billion by 2025 according to Global Market Insights. However, within this broad category of asphalt-based products, different segments are expected to grow at varied rates – with architectural variants growing even faster than 3-tab shingles.

3-Tab shingles might have some growth, driven primarily by its affordability during economic downturns or within low-cost housing sectors. Yet given the prevailing inclination amongst homeowners towards quality and aesthetics today, we can confidently predict that architectural shingles products will continue to rise thanks to its longevity and curb appeal.

Choose Us To Install Your New Asphalt Shingle Roof! 

In the grand scheme of things, both 3-tab and architectural shingles serve their purpose with proficiency—making sure each home stands sturdy. However, if you are looking for a longer term option and can spend just a little extra, we recommend you to install the architectural shingles. These are not only on-trend but offer much better value in the long run. 

Whatever you decide to do, our team is here to help. Renova Roofing & Construction is a premier roofing company serving the Gulf Coast area. We are the best asphalt shingle installer in the region and can install your new shingles, too. Contact us today at (601) 647-3433