A roof with architectural asphalt shingles with the words "3-Tab vs Architectural Shingles"

When it is time to get a new roof for your home, you will soon realize that there are many different roofing options to choose from. From metal roofing to shingles, your choice will determine the overall care, value, and durability of your roof. To help our clients find the best option for their homes, we took a deeper look at the differences between roofing options. In this article, our team will focus on architectural shingles vs 3 tab shingles.

Asphalt Shingles: 3-Tab and Architectural

When it comes to shingles, one of the most popular options among homeowners is asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are made by layering fiberglass between asphalt and ceramic-covered granules. These shingles provide a beautiful aesthetic, protection against impact damage, and durability without a large price tag compared to other roofing options, such as cedar shakes.

When it comes to asphalt shingles, there are two different options to choose from: 3-tab and architectural. Here are the important properties to decide which is best for you.

Size, Shape, and Appearance

3-tab shingles are typically 36-inches long and are divided into three 12-inch segments, which is where the shingle gets its name. Though the shingle is technically one piece, it has the appearance of being three separate shingles. 3-tab shingles lay flat against the roof of the house, creating a water-tight seal that prevents roof leaks. 3-tab shingles come in a uniform shape and size, so there are not any additional style choices to choose from.

Architectural shingles are more dynamic in appearance as they can come in various sizes and shapes. These shingles are often layered on each other, creating a more eye-catching design while offering a water-resistant seal just as the 3-tab shingles do. Architectural shingles also offer a wide range of colors and textures, making them an attractive option for homeowners who have a specific look in mind.


Image of GAF's Royal Sovereign Golden Cedar three-tab shingle swatch

3-tab shingles, while water-resistant and impact-resistant, lack the thickness that architectural shingles have, as they are pressed flatly against the roof. Because of this, 3-tab shingles are prone to weathering faster than architectural shingles, as repeated impacts weaken the material. On average, 3-tab shingles come with a 10-20 year warranty (depending on the brand). These shingles can withstand wind gusts up to 60 mph.

Architectural shingles are thicker in design as they are layered together, connected by two asphalt shingles stripes. The layering creates more cushion to better distribute impact from rain, hail, and debris. Because of the added durability and thickness, architectural shingles have a minimum warranty of 30 years and can withstand wind gusts up to 130 mph.


3-tab shingles have a lifespan of between 10 to 25 years, depending on how well the roof is maintained. Architectural shingles, however, can last anywhere from 20-50 years, depending on maintenance. The astounding difference in life spans is something to keep in mind as you weigh which type to choose.


When it comes to cost, there are a few things to consider. Two important facts to consider are the initial cost and, more importantly, the return on your investment.

3-tab shingles come at a lower initial cost. Typically, a bundle of 3-tab shingles costs anywhere from $25 to $30. While there is a lower initial cost, the return on value isn’t as good as architectural shingles. They do not have as long a lifespan and may need more frequent repairs than architectural roofing.

Architectural shingles have a higher initial cost of $35-$45 per bundle. However, the increased life expectancy and the added durability of architectural shingles mean repairs aren’t needed as frequently.

Roofing Specialists That Has Your Back

Acme Roof Systems is dedicated to helping our clients find the roof that perfectly meets their needs. Our team understands the different circumstances in which homeowners benefit by using 3-tab shingles over architectural and vice versa. If you need a new roof on a new home or to replace a roof on an existing building, our team can help! Contact Acme Roof Systems today for more information on our roof replacement services, shingle choices, or an estimate!