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Complete Comparison of 3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles

Published on Friday April 30, 2021
Roof on Houses

One of the most common factors homeowners evaluate when selecting a roofing material is affordability. Asphalt shingles are a very popular option when it comes to affordable roofing, however, there are actually several types of asphalt shingles available, including 3-tab and architectural shingles. 

Before making your final decision about roofing material, it’s important to consider all options on the table to ensure you’re making the best choice for your home. Here’s everything you need to know about architectural shingles vs. 3-tab shingles.

What are 3-Tab Shingles?

3-Tab Shingles

3-tab shingles are easily distinguishable by their notched pattern (three notches, hence the name 3-tab) at the lower edge of the shingles. This type of shingle is very easy to install as it is composed of a thin, lightweight material.

It’s also a relatively durable option without requiring a lot of maintenance, other than regular inspections and normal roof cleanings.

What are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural Shingles

Architectural roofing is growing in popularity as one of the highest quality roofing materials currently on the market. It is highly versatile, durable and can mimic the appearance of many other types of roofing.

Often referred to as composite shingles, laminate shingles or even dimensional shingles, architectural shingles are composed of a durable fiberglass base, with a ceramic-coating of mineral granules embedded tightly together.

These shingles are able to offer aesthetics, high performance and low maintenance. 

How are 3-Tab and Architectural Shingles Different?

Though both fall under the category of asphalt shingles and share many similarities, 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles vary in performance across several important categories, from aesthetic appeal to longevity to water and wind resistance. 

Here’s how architectural and 3-tab shingles stack up against one another:


When evaluating 3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles in regards to aesthetics, there isn’t a clear winner considering that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 3-tab shingles offer some texture, though lay flat when installed on your roof, resulting in a smooth, clean finish.

3-tab shingle roofing also comes in a wide variety of colors, so it’s able to match the look and feel of any home. 

Architectural shingles, however, offer greater versatility in size and shape and can give your roof a more luxurious look since they can be made to mimic more expensive roofing types like slate or cedar shakes.

With a more unique appearance, architectural roofing may boost your home’s curb appeal and set you apart from other homes listed in your area. 

Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to decide which type of shingle offers the best appearance relative to their home. 


3-tab shingles are made with asphalt, adhesive and external granules for the outside layer, with a fiberglass backing. While composed in a similar manner, architectural shingles are typically composed with higher quality materials which makes them thicker than 3-tab shingles.

Architectural shingles also tend to use stronger adhesives and a larger quantity of finer granules tightly-packed together, which increases longevity and durability. 


Since architectural shingles are composed of multiple layers of material, they are thicker and heavier than 3-tab shingles—about 50% heavier, in fact. This makes them a bit more durable and longer lasting compared to 3-tab shingles. However, it’s much easier and faster to install 3-tab vs. architectural shingles due to their lightweight nature. 


How do 3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles compare when it comes to lifespan? Since architectural shingles are composed with more durable, higher quality components, they’re able to better resist severe weather conditions like wind, ice and heat.

While the average 3-tab shingle roof lasts anywhere from 10 to 25+ years, architectural shingle roofs can last up to 50 years when properly maintained.  


Considering that 3-tab shingles have a shorter lifespan than architectural shingles, they also have lower warranties. The average warranty for a 3-tab shingle roof is 20-25 years, while an architectural shingle roof warranty can cover 40 years or longer—some contractors even offer lifetime warranties.

Wind Resistance

Since 3-tab shingles are very lightweight, they tend to get roughed up by strong winds, especially if you live in a climate that experiences windy weather often.

Comparatively, architectural shingles can stand up to wind much better than 3-tab shingles due to their thicker construction and use of stronger adhesives in the installation process. In fact, architectural shingles can resist winds up to 120 miles per hour, while 3-tab shingles are only rated for winds up to about 60 miles per hour.

Water Resistance

Similar to wind resistance, architectural shingles also trump 3-tab shingles when it comes to water resistance. Since architectural shingles are laminated and coated with tightly-packed granules, they are incredibly water-resistant.


One of the most significant factors in the architectural shingles vs. 3-tab comparison is price. Architectural shingles are far more expensive (costs on average 20% to 40% more) than 3-tab shingles since they are more expensive to install.

Roof on House

However, there are additional benefits you get when you choose a premium roofing option, including a longer lifespan, lower maintenance and fewer repairs. If cost is a top concern in your decision-making process, you have to consider that a 3-tab shingle roof will need to be replaced sooner than an architectural shingle roof.

It comes down to whether you put more money down upfront, or pay more along the way in repairs and replacement. 

Are 3-Tab or Architectural Shingles Right For You?

When it comes to architectural shingles vs. 3-tab shingles, the best option for your roof replacement is really dependent on your needs and preferences. 3-tab shingles are more affordable in the short term, so they may be ideal for a rental property or homeowners on a strict budget.

Meanwhile, architectural shingles are a better option for high-end homes, homeowners who prioritize aesthetics and anyone looking for longevity. 

Get started by exploring our traditional asphalt and luxury shingle offerings. Still have questions? Our expert team at Long Roofing can help you decide what option works best for you and your home. Call or visit us online today to get a free quote or schedule an in-home consultation!

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