Before replacing your asphalt roof, you’ll have to choose the type of asphalt shingle you want. Most homeowners won’t be able to afford the most expensive luxury shingle. 

This leaves 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles as the two asphalt shingle choices. But how can you make this big decision without knowing how they compare to each other? 

Here at Bill Ragan Roofing, we want to give you the information you need to make the best purchasing decision for you and your roof. That’s why we’ll be comparing the two types of shingles on factors like cost, lifespan, and more. 

But before we get to the comparisons, let’s do a quick recap of what 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles are. 

What are 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles?

3-tab shingles and architectural shingles (also known as dimensional shingles) are asphalt-based roofing materials. They both have a unique design to help give your roof the look you want. 

3-tab asphalt shingles

3-tab asphalt shingles lay flat and get their name because of the 3 tabs on each shingle strip.

architectural asphalt shingles

Architectural shingles give your roof a good-looking random pattern or simulate the look of wood/cedar shakes.

3-tab shingles used to dominate the roofing industry and are the cheapest of the 3 types of asphalt shingles. However, since the development of architectural shingles, they are starting to be phased out of the industry. 

Because of this, architectural shingles are the most common type of asphalt shingle and roofing material installed on roofs today. If you’re walking down the street in your neighborhood, chances are most of the houses have architectural shingles on their roof.

3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles

Both 3-tab and architectural asphalt shingles perform the same function, protecting you and your family from the elements. However, you need to know how they compare on key factors that will help you decide which one is right for you. 

These 4 factors are lifespan, warranties, cost, and maintenance. 

The lifespan of 3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles

The lifespan of your asphalt roof is the number of years you get out of it. When comparing the two shingles, you need to consider how long each one will last. 

3-tab shingles have a manufacturer-specified lifespan of 25 years, while architectural shingles have a manufacturer-specified lifespan of 30 years. We like to say asphalt shingles should last around 80-85% of their maximum lifespan due to the factors that impact the life of a roof

This means you can get up to around 20-22 years out of a 3-tab shingle roof and 25-28 years out of an architectural shingle roof. As long as the asphalt shingles are properly installed and your attic is adequately ventilated, they should get as close as possible to this lifespan.

The warranties on 3-tab shingles and architectural shingle

You’ll have two types of warranties on your new asphalt roof. One will be on your roofing contractor’s workmanship, and the other will be on the roofing materials. 

The workmanship warranty will depend on the roofing contractor you hire and will be the same for both shingles. However, the material warranty is where you’ll see a big difference between the two. 

3-tab shingles come out of the package with a 25-year warranty, while architectural shingles come out of the package with a 30-year prorated warranty. However, architectural shingles come with the opportunity to get a 50-year non-prorated enhanced warranty. 

To get the enhanced warranty, all of your asphalt roofing components (including your asphalt shingles) have to come from one specific manufacturer to form a complete roof system. After your new asphalt shingle roof is installed, this warranty ensures the manufacturer covers all of your roofing materials for the roof’s life. 

Just know improper roof installation and inadequate attic ventilation will void the enhanced warranty. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a high-quality roofing contractor to install your asphalt shingles.

The cost of 3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles

The cost of a new roof is the biggest pain point for most homeowners. While 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles are the most affordable roofing materials on the market today, they do come in at different price points. 

3-tab shingles are the cheapest of the 3 types of asphalt shingles and are a great option if you’re on a tight budget. Architectural shingles are around 15% more than 3-tab shingles but give you more life and better warranty options. 

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give you an exact cost number for the shingles themselves because the price of roofing materials fluctuates. However, 3-tab shingles will always be cheaper than architectural shingles. 

The amount of maintenance 3-tab shingles need vs. architectural shingles 

3-tab shingles and architectural shingles differ on a lot of key factors. But there’s one factor where they are equals, that’s the need for roof maintenance

Both 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles need maintenance to keep your roof maintained and running smoothly. Whether it’s once or twice a year, it ensures you get the most life out of your asphalt shingle roof

It will catch any problems with your asphalt shingles and prevent future leaks before they can cause damage to your home. It’s also a chance to clear your roof and gutters of any debris. 

No matter which shingle you choose, it’s absolutely crucial to keep your roof running smoothly throughout its life with roof maintenance. 

How much does an asphalt roof replacement cost?

Now you know how 3-tab asphalt shingles and architectural asphalt shingles compare to each other on important factors to decide which is right for you. If you’re on a very tight budget, 3-tab shingles might be right for you. 

On the other hand, investing a little more money on architectural shingles gives you more life and better warranty options. Remember, it’s impossible to give you the exact cost of the shingles themselves. 

But that doesn’t mean I can’t give you cost numbers for an entire asphalt roof replacement. That’s why we wrote another article breaking down the budget you’ll need to replace your asphalt roof.

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has proudly provided high-quality roofing services in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas. Whether you need roof repairs or a full roof replacement, you can count on our workmanship to ensure your roof lasts for decades. 

To learn how much you can expect to pay for an asphalt roof replacement, check out How Much a New Asphalt Roof Costs: Pricing, Factors & Considerations.

the complete guide to purchasing a roof