Complete Comparison of 3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles

Complete Comparison of 3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles. Deciding which roofing material to use requires evaluating all options in terms of affordability, aesthetics, and durability to ensure you’re making the best choice for your home. Offering durability and appeal unmatched by other roofing materials at an affordable price, countless homeowners opt for asphalt shingles above all else. 

Two of the most common types of asphalt shingles are architectural and three-tab shingles. If you are looking for a roofing material for your new home or for your roof renovation on a budget, these are two options that are best to consider. To help you decide which of these two will suit your needs better, here’s everything you need to know about architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles.

Complete Comparison of 3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles

What are 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. Made of a single layer of materials, 3-tab shingles are relatively thin and lightweight, making them very easy to install. It’s also a relatively durable option with less maintenance, other than regular inspections and normal roof cleanings. 

What are Architectural Shingles?

The technological advances and changing consumer preferences took asphalt shingles to a whole new level, resulting in the birth of architectural shingles. Architectural roofing is growing in popularity as one of the highest quality roofing materials available on the market. It is highly versatile and can mimic the appearance of many other types of roofing, with the durability of asphalt. 

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 in refined, water-resistant asphalt. These shingles can 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 regarding aesthetics, there isn’t a clear winner considering that each of us has a distinct taste.

3-tab shingles have tabs that are the same in size and shape, giving them a very flat look but a smooth, clean finish.  3-tab shingle roofing also comes in a wide variety of colors, giving you the option to choose what’s best for the look and feel of your home.

Architectural shingles offer greater versatility in size and shape. They can boast a more luxurious look since they can replicate high-end roofing types like slate or cedar shakes.

With a more unique appearance, architectural roofing may boost your home’s curb appeal and make it stand out in your area. But it’s still up to you to decide which type of shingle offers the best appearance relative to your home.


3-tab shingles and architectural shingles are both made with asphalt, adhesive and external granules for the outside layer, with a fiberglass backing, so basically, they have the same composition. What sets them apart is the quality and the amount of materials used in manufacturing them. 

Architectural shingles are composed of 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 give them greater longevity and durability over the latter. 


Since architectural shingles are composed of multiple layers of material, they are twice as thick and heavier than 3-tab shingles. This makes them a bit more durable and longer-lasting compared to 3-tab shingles. On the other hand, the lightweight nature of 3-tab shingles makes them easier and faster to install than architectural shingles. 


As architectural shingles are composed of more durable, higher quality components, they’re able to better resist severe weather conditions like wind, ice, and heat and last longer than 3-tabs. A 3-tab shingle roof lasts anywhere from 10 to 25+ years while architectural shingle roofs can last up to 50 years when properly maintained.


The longevity of lifespan attributes to different contractor’s warranties. Considering that 3-tab shingles have a shorter service life 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 blown off by strong winds, so they’re not the best option if you live in a climate that experiences windy weather often. 

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. They 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

Like 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.


Price is where 3-tab shingles seem to have an edge over architectural shingles considering the initial costs.  Architectural shingles are far more expensive (costs on average 20% to 40% more) than 3-tab shingles since they are more expensive to install.

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 must consider that a 3-tab shingle roof may be cheaper to install, but it will need to be replaced sooner than an architectural shingle roof.

It comes down to whether you put more money down upfront on a more economical investment for the long term or pay more along the way in repairs and replacement. 

3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles: Which One is Right for You?

Choosing between architectural shingles or 3-tab shingles for your roofing project still boils down to 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 limited budget.

Meanwhile, over the cost of your roof’s lifespan, architectural shingles can cost less making them a better option for high-end homes, homeowners who prioritize aesthetics, and longevity over initial cost. 

If you want to know which asphalt shingles might work best for your home, 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!

For professional help adding more value to your home before you list it with a Mississippi real estate broker, call Mississippi Landsource or our partner Doug Rushing Realty today at 601-996-4657