Three Tab vs Architectural Shingles: Does Price Equal Value?

Three Tab vs Architectural Shingles: Does Price Equal Value?


Asphalt shingles make up the majority of material used in the roofing market.  We credit their popularity to the cost and convenience of installation.  There are two different types of manufactured asphalt shingles: three-tab and architectural.  If you’re replacing a roof in the Maryland, Virginia, or Pennsylvania area, you have to decide which type of asphalt shingle is right for your home.


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So What’s the Difference?

While both shingles are made of the same substances, there are quite a few differentiating factors.  Three-tab shingles have cutouts along the bottom edge.  The design creates the look of three separate shingles, while being attached in one piece.  Three-tab shingles are the most economical choice which makes them the most popular.

Architectural shingles don’t have cutouts at the bottom.  Instead, they contain lamination that adds another layer of asphalt.  The name stems from the contoured dimensional appearance.  Architectural shingles offer increased waterproof protection because of the bonded layers of asphalt.


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Comparing the Two

Our descriptions focus mainly on the visual characteristics of three-tab and architectural shingles.  However, there are important differences in pricing and durability.  Everyone knows architectural cost more, but how much more?  If comparing, plan on receiving an architectural quote 20-40% higher than your three-tab quote.  This can be thousands of dollars more.  So, how can we measure if the additional cost is worth the higher price?

Here are a few factors to consider when making your decision:

The Look– Architectural have the advantage when it comes to curb appeal.  They are more attractive and can even be made to look like more premium roofing materials. Three-tab shingles are flat, single layers, while architectural offer more dimension.

Durability- When considering weight and protective capability, architectural shingles weigh over 50% more than three-tab.  Because they are twice as thick, they win the durability and weather resistance competitions.  They stand up better against high mile winds.

Warranty- The average three-tab shingle comes with a 25 year warranty.  Architectural offer a 50 year warranty.   Quite simply; architectural last twice as long.  As a helpful tip, the warranty is based on proper installation.  Also, regardless of shingle type, roofs last longer if they receive regular maintenance.


Keep these factors in mind when shopping for roofing.  Three-tab shingles offer a more economical solution at the time of purchase, however, require replacement 25 years down the road.  If you look at it that way, in a 50 year span, architectural shingles save you money.  With that said, make your decision based on how many years you plan to reside in your home.

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