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Understanding Different Types of Asphalt Shingles: 3-Tab vs. Architectural

It’s no surprise that you’ve picked asphalt shingles as the materials for your new roof. They are durable, affordable, easy to install and repair, and attractive. But you may be wondering: “What are the differences between 3-tab and architectural asphalt shingles?” “Which is the right choice for my roofing project?”

We break down the two main varieties of asphalt shingles in this post, exploring the pros and cons, similarities, and differences.

What are 3-tab shingles?

When you look at 3-tab shingles, they appear like 3 individual shingles, which is where they got their name from. However, what you are looking at is a single strip with three tabs.

3-tab shingles are very cost-effective, making them the more common asphalt shingle type. They are also durable and can last about 20 years or even more. Compared to architectural shingles, they are lighter in weight and can withstand winds with speeds between 60 and 70 mph.


  • Easy to install

  • Lightweight, making it suitable for homes with weak structures

  • Affordable

  • Durable


  • Not as durable as architectural shingles

  • Thin frames

  • Endure winds of only 60 to 70 mph

What are architectural shingles?

Architectural shingles are made of two strips of shingles laminated together, giving them the name “laminated shingles.” They are the less popular shingle variety, mainly due to their higher cost.

However, they have a longer lifespan, are heavier and thicker, and can withstand high wind speeds, making them suitable for harsh weather conditions. Architectural shingles also have more color variations, with some options mimicking the appearance of wood and slate.


  • Give you more options as they come in various styles.

  • Stronger and heavier

  • Very durable

  • More suitable for harsh weather conditions

  • Better warranties

  • Can withstand winds with speeds of up to 130 mph


  • Expensive

  • Can be difficult to install

3-tab vs. architectural shingles: similarities and differences


They may look the same from afar, but up close, the differences are apparent. Having a single tab shape and size, 3-tab shingles have a flat, one-dimensional look. Although available in a variety of colors, they also look more artificial. Architectural shingles, on the other hand, are more dimensional and look like premium materials like cedar and slate.


Architectural shingles can cost up to double the cost of 3-tab shingles. If you are on a budget, 3-tab shingles may be the better option. However, don’t forget to consider that 3-tab shingles are less durable, and the cost of repair and eventual replacement may end up being higher than the initial cost of installing architectural shingles.


3-tab shingles have a single layer, compared to the double layers of architectural shingles. Thus, they are thinner and less weather-resistant. In addition, architectural shingles can withstand wind speeds of up to 130 mph. While 3-tab shingles are durable, their laminated counterparts offer better durability.


How you install 3-tab shingles differs from the installation process of architectural shingles. If you are planning a DIY installation, you’ll find 3-tab shingles easier. However, they can break easily. That’s why we recommend contacting an expert roofer for installation.


When it comes to a longer lifespan, architectural shingles win. It’s no surprise as they are made of stronger materials and can withstand harsh elements better. 3-tab shingles can last between 10 and 25 years, while architectural shingles can last for about 50 years.


With 3-tab shingles, you often get a warranty of 20 or 25 years. This pales in comparison to the minimum 30-year warranty architectural shingles come with. Some companies even back their architectural shingles with a lifetime warranty.

3-tab vs. architectural shingles: which is better for your project?

If you are on a tight budget and want a material with an easy installation process, 3-tab shingles are what you are looking for. But if you have a longer purse and value durability, more design options, a better warranty, and a longer lifespan, go for architectural shingles.

Ultimately, the perfect choice depends on your individual situation, which is why you should schedule a free inspection today. We’ll inspect your roof, consider your priorities, and guide you in making the right decision.


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