Often times we are asked “what is the difference between 3-tab and architectural shingles?” There are several distinct differences in these two common shingle types.
Material Defect Warranty: 20, 25 & 30 year manufacturer defect warranties are available with 3-tab shingles. Architectural shingles most commonly come in 30, 40, and 50 year warranty lengths. Due to the decreased popularity of 3-tab shingles, 20-year versions are generally special order. This just means that the suppliers tend to choose not to inventory them as they do not sell very often. On the other hand the 30-year 3-tab shingles tend to be almost the same cost as compared to a entry level architectural (30-year).
Wind Warranty: 3-tab shingles generally will offer up to a 70 mph coverage where the architectural style will have 130 mph coverage. Under both of these upper limit wind warranties, most shingle manufacturers require the use of 6-nails per shingle.
Shingle Cost: The popularity of architectural shingles has significantly increased over the years. It is for this reason that the cost difference between architectural and 3-tabs is fairly minimal. As an average, architectural shingles will run about $0.10 per square foot more than 3-tabs (or $10 per roof square). Since the cost of the shingles are by the square footage, this means the cost difference is relative to the size of the roof (or house). Architectural shingles on a smaller town home (14 roof squares) would cost about $140.00 more for the upgrade. On the other hand, a larger home in an upscale area may cost an additional $300-$500 (30-50 square jobs). Estimate your roof replacement costs.
Curb appeal / Appearance: 3-tab shingles lay and appear flat as compared to the laminated construction of architectural shingles. Architectural shingles are actually two separate pieces which are then laminated together horizontally. This gives them more dimension by design. Another reason architectural (aka “dimensional shingles”) appear to have more depth is due to a shadow line. The manufacturers adds slightly darker granule to the upper areas which create a shadow effect. Ultimately architectural shingles simply look much better, much richer, and can increase the beauty of a home.
Our Advice: Architectural shingles are the better value when you compare the small cost difference to all of the advantages they offer.