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A woman holding up two types of shingles next to her house to compare them.


Choosing a roof replacement is a hard enough decision to make. There is much to prepare for and many options to consider including what materials to choose for your new roof. You could update using similar materials or recognize it’s time to upgrade.

Below you’ll find all the information you need to compare the two most common types of asphalt shingles.

What Are Asphalt Shingles?

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material. They’re cheaper than most materials and typically contain a fiberglass base coated in asphalt and ceramic granules, making them strong yet flexible.

They do a fine job protecting your home, but not all asphalt shingles are the same. Two categories of shingles are 3-tab roofing shingles and architectural roofing shingles.

3-Tab Shingles

3-tab roofing shingles are the most affordable type, making them the popular choice. They’re easy to install, require low maintenance, and have a lifespan of around 10-20 15 years.

They get their name because they come in strips of 3 shingles. These strips make them easier to install without compromising the traditional shingle look.

Architectural Shingles

Also known as laminate or dimensional shingles, architectural shingles have a longer life span and are more durable than 3-tab shingles. Their biggest downside, and the one reason they aren’t as commonly utilized, is their price.

These shingles are also much thicker because they contain an extra asphalt layer. However, this added layer gives the shingles some of their most significant benefits.

Unlike 3-tab shingles, roofers install architectural shingles individually. The process takes longer to install. However, they do offer more designs and colors if you have a specific look you’re trying to achieve.

3-Tab Shingles and architectural shingles displayed side by side.

Differences Between 3-Tab Roofing Shingles and Architectural Shingles

Both asphalt shingle roof systems have the same basic premises, but some differences affect their performance in certain areas.


While a non-issue for some, 3-tab and architectural shingles have two different visual aesthetics.

Architectural shingles create greater depth because roofers install each shingle separately. They also come in more color varieties.

Three-tab shingles, on the other hand, lay flat. They don’t have much depth to them, which some might find unappealing.


The difference in expected lifespan between these two shingles is ten years.

The more expensive architectural shingles have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. Not worrying about replacing your roof for that long is a significant bonus.

You should replace 3-tab shingles about every 2015 -20 years. This timeline means you’ll have to replace your roof more often, but this option saves you from spending considerably more now.


Architectural shingles are much more durable than three-tab shingles. They also boast a higher level of wind resistance due to their extra asphalt layer.

Due to their thinner design, 3-tab shingles are less durable. However, considering all other factors, they’re still a fine choice if your climate is moderate.


It’s come up multiple times already, but the cost difference between these two options is very different.

Three-tab shingles are the best bet if you’re looking for affordability, as they cost around $1-3 per square foot. On the other hand, Architectural shingles range between $4-$8 per square foot.

Comparison chart of 3-tab vs architectural shingles.

What is the Best Roofing Shingle?

Architectural shingles are a great choice if you’re looking for something that will last you a long time and do a great job of protecting your home. However, three-tab shingles are a great choice if you’re looking for a quick and cheap replacement.

Best Budget

For the best budget, 3-tab shingles take the cake in this category.

Using a fixed cost for the two shingles, the average roof size, and a 60-year time frame, three-tab shingles could cost $15,000.00 less than architectural shingles. For most homeowners, that is a significant difference.

Budget is a primary concern for most people, and 3-tab shingles cost significantly less than architectural shingles in the long term.

Best Durability and Longevity

Architectural shingles may cost a lot more, but the added benefit of not having to worry about your shingles blowing away could be worth the cost to some.

The extra layer of material that architectural shingles offer will also help your roof last longer.


The difference between these shingle roofing options may seem negligible from far away. And some don’t care about what their roof looks like up close.

Traditionally, most people consider architectural shingles better looking. However, the importance of this is dependent on your preferences.

Tht top of a gabled roof with architectural shingles.

Making the Choice

Legacy Roofing is a company servicing the greater Prescott, AZ area, including Flagstaff, Sedona, and Williams. Let us help you with your roofing needs.

If you need help choosing what roofing materials are best for you, contact your local roofing contractor for an inspection.

Schedule an appointment or inspection with Legacy Roofing today!

If you would like Legacy Roofing to inspect your roof and offer a free estimate, please call us, or fill out the contract form below. Legacy will send a trained estimator to inspect and offer an experts opinion on the size and scope of your job.

Legacy Roofing

Servicing All of Northern Arizona

Legacy Roofing LLC - Prescott

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Servicing All of Northern Arizona

Legacy Roofing

Legacy Roofing LLC - Prescott