Fiberglass Asphalt Shingles

Although the difference between three-tab and architectural shingles seems superficial, roofers consider the latter a more high-end roofing product. The price difference reflects this, with architectural shingles costing 20% to 40% percent more than three-tab shingles—a difference that can mean up to $1500 more for larger roofs.

But are architectural shingles really worth the extra cost? Roof Roof, one of the leading roof expert says yes, they are. Here’s why:

  • Aesthetics. Architectural shingles can be made to resemble premium roofing materials like cedar and slate and are better able to hide imperfections on the roof surface.

  • Durability. Architectural shingles are nearly twice as thick as three-tab shingles and are therefore more durable and less vulnerable to curling.

  • Weight and wind resistance. Three-tab shingles usually weigh 240 lbs per square and are rated for wind speeds up to 60 mph; architectural shingles weigh 340-440 lbs per square and are rated for wind speeds up to 80-120 mph.

  • Manufacturer’s warranties. 25 years for three-tab, 40 to 50 years for architectural.

So is cheaper better? The answer will depend on how you look at things. Three-tab shingles are cheaper upfront, but over the course of your roof’s lifetime, architectural shingles can cost less.

Learn the Difference between 3-Tab Shingles and Architectural Shingles

Asphalt shingles come in two basic forms: architectural and 3-tab.


What is a 3-Tab Shingle?

A 3-tab shingle is distinguished by three uniform cutouts, or tabs, made along the lower edge of the shingles.

“Each shingle looks like three separate pieces when installed, but it’s only one,” explains Joan Crowe

a technical services director for the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA)


Benefits of 3-tab shingles include:

  • More cost effective than architectural shingles.          

  • Provides a nice uniform look.

  • Remain the most popular roofing shingle today. 




What is an Architectural Shingle?

Architectural shingles are created by laminating two shingle strips together to form a single, dimensional shingle. The tabs on these shingles come in various sizes and shapes, mimicking the look of wood shake, but with the durability of asphalt.

Benefits of architectural shingles include:

  • Heavier and more durable than 3-tab shingles.

  • Better wind resistance.

  • The varying sizes and shapes of the shingles give the roof a more dimensional look, which many people attribute to added curb appeal.

  • Enhanced waterproofing capabilities.

  • Longer life expectancy than 3-tab shingles and, thus, has longer manufacturer’s warranties.

The asphalt shingles you choose will depend on your specific needs and budget.



"Architectural, also known as laminated or dimensional shingles, are among the highest quality roofing product made.  Traditionally, they are composed of a heavy fiberglass mat base and ceramic-coated mineral granules that are tightly embedded in carefully refined, water-resistant asphalt."  Architectural shingles are a premium grade of asphalt shingle roofing.  The shingles are thicker and have a distinctive, textured appearance.  They were introduced in the 1970's in an effort by manufacturers to create a higher-end product.

Asphalt shingles are a roofing staple all over North America by dint of their low upfront cost and easy installation. They are currently the biggest player in the roofing market, outpacing all other roofing materials by a considerable margin. Asphalt shingles are manufactured in two different types: three-tab and architectural.

Architectural asphalt shingles contain no cutouts, but their lower portions are laminated with an additional asphalt layer. This creates the contoured, dimensional look that gives them their name. Asphalt sealant bonds the layers, reinforcing the shingles’ waterproof capability. Though durable, architectural shingles are not recommended for low-sloping roofs, which are more vulnerable to wind-driven rain