Let’s Talk Shingles: 3-Tab vs. Architectural

3-tab versus architectural shingles

Did you hear? Architectural shingles are the new 3-tab shingles.

We joke, but it is true that architectural shingles are quickly replacing 3-tab shingles for new construction and roof replacement projects. But it’s not just a fad, contractors have good reason to opt for architectural.

But what’s the difference anyway, and why do people say architectural shingles are better? Read on to find out.

Asphalt Shingle Definitions:

3-tab shingle example
Photo courtesy of nachi.org

3-tab shingles became the standard roofing material in the 1950s. They are single strips of shingles with a single layer of asphalt. They have a flat appearance and have almost a 2-D brick pattern when you see them on a full roof. They got their name from how the shingle pieces are cut into three tabs per shingle (see below). 

Architectural shingles were invented in the 1980s and have quickly become the industry standard as roofing companies and homeowners alike came to appreciate their benefits. An architectural shingle consists of 2+ asphalt strips laminated together to create a thicker, more dimensional shingle. They are designed in different ways to mimic the look of slate or shake roofs, and the overlapping nature of the shingles offers the “architectural” look. 

So, what are the main differences between 3-tab and architectural shingles? Since it is already clear that the architectural is meant to be more visually pleasing and physically denser, are there any reasons to go with 3-tab instead?

A Quick Comparison Guide:

Chart comparing 3-tab and architectural shingles

Why 3-Tab (Or Why Not)?

The main benefit of 3-tab shingles is that they are typically cheaper both in regards to the materials and installation costs. They are still used among builders for new construction projects to cut down on building costs. People also commonly install them on investment properties or low-value homes.

While you may be wanting to opt for 3-tab to save money, we always recommend architectural shingles if you are already investing in a full roof replacement. At Artisan, we offer fair pricing so that our customers don’t have to make the hard choice regarding product quality. With our fair pricing models, there is little difference in cost between the two options, and the benefits of architectural shingles far outweigh the benefits of saving a few hundred dollars. 

Additional Benefits of Architectural Shingles

In case I haven’t convinced you yet, here are a few more benefits of architectural shingles. 

1. Aesthetically pleasing

2. Increases curb appeal

3. Natural color variation

4. Wind and hail-resistant

5. Algae-resistant technology (depending on the brand)

6. Better leak prevention

7. Less granule-shedding

A Note about Workmanship

After the hail storm last year in Apex, we inspected dozens of roofs with architectural shingles. Aside from location, the biggest determinant for how those roofs held up to the storm was whether or not they were properly installed. 

Regardless of how expensive or high quality your shingle is, the most critical component of a lasting roof is the quality of the installation itself. A roof is only as good as its installation.

In the end, a properly installed 3-tab roof could last longer than a poorly installed architectural roof.
We hope this guide was helpful for you as you look into different shingle options for your roof replacement. Interested in learning more? Check out our guide to the different types of asphalt shingles.

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