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3-Tab Shingles vs. Architectural Shingles

3 Tab Shingles vs Architectural Shingles | Architectural Roof Shingle vs 3-Tab | Architectural Shingles vs 3 Tab Shingles | Residential Roofing in Buffalo and Rochester NY

After hiring a roofer, your next big decision is choosing the type of roofing material. Asphalt shingle roofing is a popular option for both residential and commercial properties because it is lightweight, durable, affordable and easy to install.

The two main options are: 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles.

3-Tab Shingles

3-tab shingles are a type of traditional asphalt shingle with three equally-sized tabs on the lower edge that give them a symmetrical look when installed on a roof. The tabs fit together like puzzle pieces to create a flat, rectangular pattern.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles (also called dimensional or laminated shingles) are a type of roofing material that are made up of multiple layers of asphalt-coated fiberglass that are laminated together. They are designed to create an architectural interest on a roof and can be made to look like natural slate tiles or genuine cedar shakes.

Before deciding which type of material to use for your home or business, you’ll want to consider how each option varies across key categories, such as composition, appearance, durability, lifespan and cost.


Both architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles are made of asphalt. However, architectural shingles have an additional layer of asphalt and built-in granules, making them thicker, heavier, and more durable than 3-tab shingles.

By contrast, 3-tab shingles are made almost entirely from asphalt, which does help to keep their cost down but at the expense of longevity.


While you can buy 3-tab shingles in various colors, their overall look can be flat and one-dimensional.

If you’re looking for shingles that look similar to tile or wood, architectural shingles are the way to go. With recent printing technologies, architectural shingles are available in a wider variety of colors than previously offered, providing options that look more natural than machine-made.


Architectural shingles are sturdier and more wind-resistant than 3-tab shingles. They can withstand winds up to 120 miles per hour, in some cases. Most three-tab shingles cannot withstand winds beyond 70 mph.

Architectural shingles are also the preferred choice if you value overall durability since they can last up to 30 years with proper care and maintenance. Three-tab shingle roofs usually need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years, although relative replacement costs may be similar since 3-tab shingles are more affordable.


Architectural shingles last 50% longer than 3-tab shingles, which makes their higher cost more justifiable. However, well-cared-for 3-tab shingles can last up to 20 years in low-impact climates, which makes it hard to defend the higher price of architectural shingles based on longevity alone. If you live somewhere without high winds or other types of extreme weather, 3-tab shingles can be a strong fit for your needs.


3-tab shingles will be the more affordable asphalt roofing option with most 3-tab shingles costing between $1 to $2 per square foot.

Architectural shingles are generally more expensive with prices between $4 and $8 per square foot on average.

The Final Verdict

In the 3-Tab Shingles vs. Architectural Shingles matchup, the choice is up to you! Because neither 3-tab or architectural shingles are better in every scenario. It all depends on your unique needs.

If you live in a low-impact climate and prefer a low-cost option, 3-tab shingles may have the advantage. If you don’t mind paying more for a higher quality product that will offer better durability and overall lifespan, it may be worth it for you to pursue architectural shingles.

No matter what you choose, Besroi Roofing & Siding is here for you! In our 60+ years in business, we’ve installed tens of thousands of roofs! Our expert team can guide you throughout the entire process – from planning to material choices to professional installation. Get a free quote today!

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