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When you get a roof replacement, you have a variety of roofing materials to choose from:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Cedar shakes
  • Clay or slate tiles
  • Metal panels

What many homeowners don’t realize, however, is that you have choices between the kinds of asphalt shingles you can use for your home. In addition to deciding your desired shingle color, you need to decide between asphalt shingles vs 3 tab shingles for your roofing project.

Wondering what factors should go into your decision? Keep reading to learn some of the main differences between these two kinds of shingles and get advice on which one you should use for your home.

What Are 3 Tab Shingles?

3 tab shingles are named after the tabs on the bottom of each piece of shingle. They’re made of a flat and lightweight material designed to look like three shingles on each piece of material.

These shingles come at a low cost compared to other roofing materials, so they’re a great option for homeowners on a tight budget. Nearly all contractors are familiar with these shingles. They’re very easy to install, basically guaranteeing a smooth installation process for both you and your roofing team.

Because the material is flat, these shingles give you a very uniform appearance for your roof. Not all homeowners like this look, but if you do, 3-tab shingles are definitely for you.

These lightweight shingles are able to withstand most low and medium-speed winds. While warranties vary among manufacturers and contractors, you can expect to get a 20-30 year warranty for 3-tab shingles.

However, their lifespan typically only runs around 15 years, and you’ll need to perform regular maintenance on your roof to achieve the full lifespan of these shingles.

Main characteristics of 3 tab shingles:

  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • Very affordable
  • 15-year lifespan
  • Moderate impact and wind resistance

What Are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural shingles are known by a variety of names. They may also be called dimensional shingles or laminated shingles.

Originally created to mimic the look of wood shake, these shingles are three-dimensional and variable in their appearance. This look comes from an extra layer of asphalt added to the back of the shingles. Each piece of material is made with a single tab shape.

The additional layer of asphalt makes these shingles incredibly durable. They can withstand winds of very high speeds and can handle moderate levels of impact. Certain varieties of architectural shingles also come with hail resistance, mold and mildew resistance, and extra waterproofing.

Because architectural shingles are made with multiple layers of material, they’re also heavy, and not all structures are built to hold this weight. If you have an older home, check with your contractor to ensure that the extra weight won’t be too much for your home’s foundation.

With proper maintenance, the average lifespan of architectural shingles is around 30-50 years, with warranties to match. Some manufacturers will even offer limited lifetime warranties for this kind of shingle, depending on the contractor you work with for installation.

Architectural shingles are known for being very beautiful, and if you previously had 3 tab shingles on your roof, switching over to architectural shingles may improve the overall value of your home.

The higher quality of these shingles does come at an additional cost; architectural shingles tend to be about 1.25x more expensive than their 3-tab counterparts.

Main characteristics of architectural shingles:

  • Dimensional in appearance
  • Boost your home’s curb appeal
  • Impact, water, and wind resistant
  • Longer lifespan than 3-tab shingles
  • May be too heavy for some structures
  • Somewhat expensive roofing materials to purchase and install

Architectural Shingles vs. 3 Tab: Which to Use

As you can see, neither roofing material is definitely a wrong choice to use for your home; both architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles have their pros and cons. You should make your choice based on your budget, your climate, and the needs of your roof.

For example, if you live in an area prone to extreme weather and hail, it might be worth investing in the upfront cost of architectural shingles to save money on repair costs down the road.

However, if you have an older home, you might have to increase the strength of your foundation in order to support the weight of architectural shingles. This added cost might be prohibitively expensive for you, making 3-tab shingles the better choice. The slope of your roof can also play a role in which kinds of shingles are accessible choices for your structure.

Also note that for new construction, 3-tab shingles aren’t commonly used anymore. The superior performance of architectural shingles vs 3 tab means that most contractors favor the former over the latter, and new foundations are built to support the weight of these roofs.

If you’re still unsure of which shingles would be the right materials for your roofing project, you can always talk with a local contractor to get advice. Most roofers will provide you with a free estimate for your project, giving you the opportunity to consult with an expert and compare the estimated costs for both materials.

Choose the Right Materials for Your New Roof

three tabs shingle close up on roof

The next time that roofing repair comes up on your home improvement list, keep these differences between architectural shingles vs 3 tab shingles in mind. Weigh the needs of your climate, budget, and timeframe to help you choose the best shingle type for your home.

At Best Exteriors, we want you to have the best roofing experience possible. That’s why we only use premium materials, offer decades-long material and workmanship warranties, and always start with a free quote.

Ready to work with one of Ohio’s premiere roofing companies? Fill out our contact form to schedule your consultation!

Drew Paetow

We’ll have you love your home project so much that people will drive by and comment on how good it looks. That is our promise to you.

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