Get Your Free Quote
Architectural shingles
Architectural shingles

Architectural Shingles vs 3 Tab (Comparison Guide)

6 min read

November 14, 2023

author profile picture

Clean Cut

Architectural shingles

Choosing the correct roofing shingles for your home can be daunting, given the myriad of options available. Did you know that among these choices, architectural and 3-tab shingles are two of the most prevalent types used today?

This blog post aims to simplify this decision-making process by offering detailed comparisons of architectural shingles vs 3 tab shingles in terms of composition, cost, aesthetics, lifespan, and durability.

Ready to upgrade your shingle roof?

Read on to make an informed choice that best suits your needs!

Understanding the Difference

3 tab shingles

Architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles differ in 

  • Composition 🧱
  • Appearance 👀
  • Lifespan ⏳
  • Durability 💪
  • Cost 💲

Composition and Material

Architectural shingles are crafted from superior materials, resulting in a more robust product. They contain an additional layer compared to their 3-tab counterparts, which adds extra weight and thickness.

The thicker composition of architectural shingles mimics alternative roofing types like wood or slate, offering aesthetic appeal alongside sturdy durability. On the other hand, 3-tab shingles bring lightness and thinness to the table as they’re composed of less material than architectural varieties.

Appearance and Aesthetics

Architectural shingles create a dynamic, textured look for your roof. They offer an array of roofing designs due to their dimensional aesthetic, capable of mimicking the appearance of wood shakes or even slate tiles.

In contrast, 3-tab shingles present a simpler design with more uniformity. Their flatter appearance offers less variation than architectural shingles but maintains a classic roofing style.

Lifespan and Durability

Architectural shingles typically outlast 3-tab shingles with a manufacturer-specified lifespan of 30 years, compared to the latter’s 25. They can often last up to 50 years if properly maintained.

In optimal conditions, architectural shingles endure for nearly three decades, while their 3-tab counterparts average between 10 and 20 years. The increased durability of architectural shingles comes from their design: they are approximately half heavier than the comparably light-weighted three-tab version.


Architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles differ not only in their appearance and durability but also in their cost. Architectural shingles, with their added thickness and dimensional texture, come at a higher price than 3-tab shingles.

On average, architectural shingles are priced between 20% to 40% more than 3 tab shingles. For a typical roof measuring around 1,500 square feet, installing 3-tab shingles would range from $1,500 to $3,000.

In installation costs alone, you can expect to pay between $270 to $340 per square for this type of roofing material.

Wind Resistance

Architectural shingles have superior wind resistance compared to 3-tab shingles. These sturdy roofing materials are designed to withstand high winds and protect your home from potential wind damage.

With the ability to endure winds up to 120 miles per hour in some cases, architectural shingles provide peace of mind during windstorms. Their thickness and strong adhesives make them more durable against gusts, ensuring that they stay securely in place on your roof.

Pros and Cons

Architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits and Advantages of Architectural Shingles

Newly installed architectural shingles

Architectural shingles come with several benefits and advantages that make them a popular choice for homeowners. First and foremost, these shingles are known for their durability and long lifespan.

With their thicker construction, they can withstand harsh weather conditions and last much longer than traditional 3-tab shingles. Additionally, architectural shingles offer better wind resistance, with some being able to handle winds of up to 120 mph.

Benefits and Advantages of 3-Tab Shingles

Different colors for 3 tab shingles

3-Tab shingles offer several benefits and advantages that make them a popular choice for homeowners. One of the main advantages is their affordability. Compared to architectural shingles, 3-Tab shingles are less expensive, making them a budget-friendly option for those looking to save on roofing costs.

Additionally, these shingles have a basic and traditional appearance, which appeals to homeowners seeking a more simplistic design. Another advantage is their lightweight nature, making them easier to handle during installation.

This lighter weight also contributes to their ease of installation and makes them suitable for various types of roofs. 

Drawbacks of Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles have some drawbacks that you should consider before making a decision. One drawback is their weight. These shingles are about 50% heavier than 3-tab shingles, which can make them more difficult to install and may require additional support for your roof.

Another drawback is the higher cost of architectural shingles compared to 3-tab shingles. The added durability and longer lifespan of architectural shingles do come at a higher price point.

Lastly, while architectural shingles offer better wind resistance compared to 3-tab shingles, they are still not as wind-resistant as other roofing materials like metal or slate. So, if high winds are a concern in your area, it’s important to consider this when choosing your roofing material.

Drawbacks of 3-Tab Shingles

3-Tab shingles have a few drawbacks that you should consider before making your decision. First, these shingles are not as wind-resistant as architectural shingles due to their thin frames.

Some homeowners also prefer the traditional look of 3-Tab shingles with their flat appearance, rather than the more textured look of architectural shingles. However, it’s important to note that the installation process for 3-Tab shingles can be less labor-intensive and time-consuming compared to architectural ones.

Which is Right for You?

When choosing between architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles, several factors come into play. Firstly, consider your budget. Architectural shingles are generally more expensive than 3-tab shingles, but they offer added benefits like increased durability and longer lifespan.

If affordability is a priority, 3-tab shingles may be the right choice for you.

Next, think about the level of protection you need for your roof. Architectural shingles have a thicker base mat and provide better resistance against wind and harsh weather conditions compared to 3-tab shingles.

Lastly, consider the overall appearance you desire for your home. Architectural shingles have a three-dimensional look that can enhance curb appeal. On the other hand, if a simpler aesthetic is what you prefer or if cost-effectiveness is essential to you, 3-tab shingles will fit your needs.

Your Next Step

When comparing architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles, there are several key differences to consider. Architectural shingles offer a dimensional look and greater protection from the elements but come with a higher price tag and installation cost.

On the other hand, 3-tab shingles are more affordable and lighter in weight, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious homeowners. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your priorities and budget. Reach out to us at Clean Cut Roofing for our expert advice today!

Share This Post  

Recent Articles

wooden frame of new home construction by Clean Cut

We’ll Handle Everything For You

With precise, holistic work, we’ll relieve all the stress of fixing your home.

Get Your Free Quote