Architectural Shingles vs. 3-Tab Shingles – Pros and Cons

Architectural shingles vs. 3-tab shingles

Homeowners are often surprised when we tell them about how many different options there are for asphalt shingles. Apparently, they look so alike for most people that they assume there are only one or two kinds.

Of course, not many people are up on rooftops looking at shingles all day or putting a roof together. It does take an experienced eye to see the differences in types of shingles.

In addition, in a cooler climate like Michigan, it may make more sense for most people to choose a dark color. Dark colored shingles attract and absorb more heat from the sun, which can benefit a house interior in the winter. However, on the flipside the same is true in summer. That is why good ventilation and insulation are so important in all climates.

I’m here to tell you, though, that there are not only different colors of asphalt shingles, there are different shapes and ways to put shingles on a roof. If you knew this already, that is great. If not, let’s look at the two primary types of shingles and why they differ. I’ll give the pros and cons for each kind.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles
Architectural shingles

Architectural shingles are also called dimensional or laminate shingles. They have a different look from the traditional 3-tab shingles in that they come in various shapes and sizes.

Additionally, they have a more dimensional look to them much like a wooden shake or a tile has dimension. You could conceivably get the benefits of an asphalt shingle roof, which is fairly low-maintenance, with the look of a cedar shake roof with an architectural shingle.


  • Architectural shingles have longer warranties because they are thicker than most 3-tab shingles.
  • They have a minimum 30-year guarantee.
  • They are rated to resist higher wind speeds than 3-tab shingles.
  • If they are correctly installed and maintained, they can raise a home’s value because they are preferred over 3-tab.
  • Architectural shingles more popular in the roofing market.


  • Architectural shingles weigh up to 50% more than 3-tab shingles, which are already heavy. This could pose a problem if your house is not structurally ready for that load.
  • They cost more than 3-tab shingles.

3-tab Shingles

3-tab shingles
3-tab shingles

Traditional shingles are the 3-tab variety. They are the shingles people most often associate with asphalt roofing. They come in a single tab shape, even though they are available in a variety of colors. In addition, 3-tab shingles lie flat to the roof decking and create a clean shape with neat-looking lines on your roof.


  • 3-tab shingles weigh less than architectural shingles because they are composed of less material.
  • They are less expensive than architectural shingles.
  • They are still used in many residential properties for their affordable price. The higher initial price of architectural shingles can be prohibitive for some builders.


  • 3-tab shingles are less thick than architectural shingles, so they need to be replaced sooner.
  • They have a flat appearance which can be less preferable than dimensional shingles.
  • They are on the decline in popularity.


Whichever option you choose, there are pros and cons for each type of asphalt shingle. We would be happy to show you each option and review with you what makes the most sense for your style and budget as you approach your new roof.

Are you located in the Southeast Michigan area? Please give us a call. We would be honored to help.

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3 Comments on “Architectural Shingles vs. 3-Tab Shingles – Pros and Cons

  1. The roofing contractor that gave me a quote, said there is no difference in the cost of a 3 tab flat shingle to a dimensional because they control the manufacture, they pay the same price. Is that true? Is the installation price the same?

    • Hi Ralph,

      When we give a quote, there is a price difference between a Three Tab Shingle vs a dimensional shingle. Architectural (Dimensional) shingles cost more because they are heavier and cost more to produce. Installation price is the same.

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