The Asphalt Showdown: 3 Tab VS Architectural Shingles

If you’re in the market for a new roof, you’re probably considering asphalt shingles most likely decided between 3 Tab Vs Architectural Shingles.

And that’s not a random guess—over 75% of the residential roofing market uses asphalt shingles.

So if asphalt shingles are on your radar this year, there are two main styles to consider:

  • 3 tab shingles
  • Architectural shingles

Luxury shingles are another type that you may hear about. Generally speaking, luxury shingles—also known as premium shingles—are designed to replicate shake and slate roofing. Since slate roofing can cost almost ten times as much shingle roofing, luxury shingles offer a compromise—similar aesthetics at a much friendlier price point.

3 tab and architectural shingles hold the lion’s share of the roofing market, so our goal today is to give you a comprehensive look at these two—most common—types of asphalt shingle.

And in the spirit of competition, we’re going to pit them against each other head-to-head—for durability, style, and affordability.

But first things first…

What Are 3 Tab And Architectural Shingles?

3 Tab Shingles

3 tab shingles are the entry-level roofing solution that North Carolina homes can count on.

A one-piece, single layer 3 tab roofing product can be made from durable fiberglass, which is then coated with mineral asphalt granules. Surprisingly durable for such a lightweight roofing product, 3 tab shingles can withstand wind uplift of up to 70 mph.

As an added bonus, this type of shingle lasts up to 20 years, giving your home a streamlined, clean appearance.

Why are they called 3 tab shingles? The exposed layer of the shingle notches into the next row of tiles with three tabs. Unfortunately, it’s this notching system that makes them particularly prone to blow-off—and yes, that is what it sounds like—in bad weather.

A Popular Choice For…

New economy builds and affordable roofing replacements for older homes.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural asphalt shingle is a mid-level roofing solution that can give your home a premium 3-dimensional aesthetic, at a wallet-friendly price.

Architectural shingles can be designed to replicate natural wood or slate, and they are durable up to 130 mph wind uplift. Because of the materials involved in manufacturing architectural shingle, this style of roofing is supported by limited warranties of up to 50 years.

A Popular Choice For…

According to the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, architectural shingles are the #1 shingle used in US roofing. They are a high-quality choice for new builds and roof replacements.

They might even be the best choice for the majority of Winston Salem homes—and homes right across the US.

But let’s fact check that statement right here, with the 3 tab VS architectural shingles showdown.

The Showdown: 3 Tab VS Architectural Shingles


Let’s start with the question on every homeowner’s lips when they’re looking at making a major investment in roofing: does it look good?

Architectural shingles are the better-looking option because they lend texture and character to period homes, older houses, and new builds. The simple 3 tabs could be more appealing to those who are most concerned with sticking to a tight budget.

Versatility matters, too. 3 tab shingle comes in one shape and style and provides a flat profile. Architectural shingles can be customized in color, size, and shape to deliver a fully personalized style to your home.

The Head To Head Comparison

  • 3 tab shingles come in one tab size and shape
  • Architectural shingles come in varying sizes and shapes
  • 3 tab shingles are thin and lightweight
  • Architectural shingles are thicker and imitate a shake aesthetic

The key to deciding whether architectural shingles or 3 tab shingles are the better choice for your home—as far as how they look—is to imagine the two options were priced the same. Which would you choose? At the end of the day, your investment in your home’s roof can add value, curb appeal, and personality.


Because architectural shingles are thicker and more multi-dimensional, they are bound to last longer—up to 30 years longer, in fact. Essentially, architectural shingles are two asphalt shingle strips laminated together to create a more durable and hardy roofing solution.

They are also higher rated than 3 tab shingles for resilience to wind uplift, hail damage, and even fungal growth.

The Head To Head Comparison

  • 3 tab shingles are more vulnerable to wind uplift and damage
  • Architectural shingles are thicker, heavier, and use an installation technique that minimizes those risks and maximizes resilience to wind damage
  • 3 tab shingle products generally offer 20, 25, or 30-year warranties
  • Architectural shingles offer from 30-year warranties up to lifetime warranties
  • 3 tab shingles are more vulnerable to fungal growth and hail damage

Affordability; Value

We’ve already touched on this a few times throughout our Showdown, but let’s really get into the nitty-gritty for a minute.

Architectural shingles are ultimately a superior roofing solution—but you pay up to 50% more for those benefits. 3 tab shingles are likely to cost you and your family up to $30 per bundle, and architectural shingles will push the boat out to the $45 per bundle mark.

Let’s do some quick calculations to show you what a difference that makes…

If your home is 75 sq. ft. and you have a 6/12 roof pitch, your roofing area is 167 sq. ft. or 2 squares. It’ll require an average of 6 bundles—and keep in mind that this number is going to vary from one manufacturer to the other.

So basically, your roof could cost between $180 and $270 in asphalt shingle, depending on your choices.

For less than a $90 difference, many local homeowners tell us they’d rather pay for the added durability and warranty life than focus on the short-term cost savings







Architectural shingles clearly have the advantage over 3 tab shingles for durability, versatility, and style—but we can’t discount their more affordable alternative, either. Whether you choose architectural shingles or 3 tab shingles will come down to your own taste and budget.

The key is to choose reputable manufacturers, and a reliable, experienced roofing contractor. If you live in the Winston Salem area, we’ve got both those points covered—we work with the manufacturers Americans have trusted for decades, and we deliver a service North Carolina homeowners can count on.

Ready to invest in quality roofing? Get in touch with us and we’ll guide you through the process.