Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Asphalt Shingle Roof

3-tab vs. Architectural vs. Luxury Shingles

January 22nd, 2024 | 9 min. read

3-tab vs. Architectural vs. Luxury Shingles

Print/Save as PDF

Asphalt shingle roofing is the most popular residential roofing material on the market. But while the roofing material itself is popular in general, it’s broken up into three different shingle types: 3-tab, architectural, and luxury. 

The type of shingle you choose determines everything, from the look it provides your home to how much your new roof costs. That’s why you need to ensure you're choosing the right shingle for your situation.

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided transparent information so homeowners have confidence when making decisions. Because of this, let’s break down and compare the shingles types on the things that directly impact the decision-making process. 

This article covers the following:

  • A quick explanation of the three shingle types, plus their pros and cons.
  • Comparing the curb appeal, storm damage durability, material warranty, lifespan, and cost of the three shingle types.

What are 3-tab shingles?

3-tab shingles lay flat and get their name from the three tabs on each shingle strip. This asphalt shingle used to dominate the residential roofing industry until technology improved to create architectural asphalt shingles.

3 tab shingles

3-tab shingles pros:

  • Cheapest roofing material on the market
  • Ease of repair and installation

3-tab shingles cons:

  • Shortest lifespan
  • Being phased out of the roofing industry
  • Hard to color matches for repairs and insurance
  • Needs yearly maintenance
  • Low curb appeal
  • Prone to wind damage

What are architectural shingles?

Architectural (also called dimensional) shingles provide a random pattern to give your roof dimension or simulate the look of a wood-shake roof. It’s not only the most common asphalt shingle installed on homes today but also the most common roofing material in general.

architectural shingles

Architectural shingles pros:

  • Affordability
  • Ease of repair and installation
  • Readily available materials and colors

Architectural shingles cons:

  • Low curb appeal compared to other materials
  • Needs yearly maintenance
  • Prone to hail damage

What are luxury shingles?

Luxury (also called designer or premium) shingles are designed to look like a natural slate tile roof. They are larger, more durable, offer the highest curb appeal, and are the most expensive of three types of asphalt shingles.

luxury shingles

Luxury shingles pros:

  • Durability
  • Longevity
  • High curb appeal
  • Stands up well to storm damage

Luxury shingles cons:

  • Expensive
  • Longer installation compared to the other asphalt shingles
  • Needs yearly maintenance

3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles vs. luxury shingles

Now, you know what the three types of shingles are, their differences, and their main pros and cons. However, we still need to compare them on key decision-making factors. 

Let’s compare the three types of shingles on curb appeal, storm damage durability, material warranty, lifespan, and cost.

Curb appeal

A new roof is guaranteed to increase your home's curb appeal. However, the shingle you choose determines how much it increases. 

3 tab asphalt shingle roof(3-tab shingle roof)

3-tab shingles lay flat, which doesn’t offer much in terms of looks and provides a lower curb appeal. There are also limited color options because they’re being phased out of the industry.

architectural shingle roof(Architectural shingle roof)

Architectural shingles have plenty of color options, and some are made to resemble cedar shakes. This gives them a leg up on 3-tab shingles in terms of curb appeal, but it still doesn’t provide a head-turning look like other roofing materials. 

luxury shingle roof(Luxury shingle roof)

Luxury shingles mimic slate, which some consider to have the highest curb appeal among all roofing materials. However, the slate look doesn’t come with many color options or variations.

The clear winner for curb appeal is luxury shingles, followed by architectural, and lastly, 3-tab shingles, which offer the lowest curb appeal of the three options. Just keep in mind that everyone has different preferences and likes, so pick the one you like the look of and combine it with the information below.

Storm damage durability

All three types of shingles can be damaged by hail and wind during storms, but each has a different durability level. Both 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles are prone to hail damage, while luxury shingles can withstand hail better due to their thickness. 

hail damage to 3-tab shingles(Hail damage to 3-tab shingles)

However, manufacturers make impact-resistant architectural and luxury shingles that are meant to handle frequent and large hail storms. On the other hand, the difference in wind rating between the three types is dramatic. 

wind damage to 3-tab shingles(Wind damage to 3-tab shingles)

Both architectural and luxury shingles are thicker, higher-quality materials and combined with their installation method, which gives them a much higher wind rating than 3-tab shingles. For example, CetainTeed’s XT25 3-tab shingles have a 60-mph wind rating, which may seem like a lot. 

However, their Landmark architectural shingles and Grand Manor luxury shingles have a 110-mph wind rating, which can increase even further to 130 mph with the appropriate accessories.


Other than increasing your home’s value, the lifespan of the shingles is the ROI you get out of your roof investment. As long as the shingles are properly installed and your attic is adequately ventilated, they should reach their maximum lifespan. 

With that in mind, luxury shingles have the longest lifespan and should last 30 years, with a chance to reach around 50 years in the right conditions. They are larger and thicker, which makes them much more durable than the two other shingle types. 

On the other hand, architectural shingles still have a great lifespan and should last between 20 to 25 years. This is still a great lifespan, but the only roofing material they last longer than is 3-tab shingles. 

Lastly, 3-tab shingles are inferior to the other two and will last 15 to a maximum of 20 years in perfect conditions. If you live in an area with frequent strong storms, they may not even last that long.

Material warranty

All three types of shingles come out of the package with a material warranty that covers the shingles themselves from manufacturing defects. 3-tab shingles come with a 25-year limited warranty, while architectural shingles and luxury shingles both come with a 30-year warranty (prorated after 10 years). 

On the surface, this isn’t a big difference, but architectural and luxury shingles come with the opportunity to get a 50-year non-prorated enhanced warranty. By getting all the roofing components (including the shingles) and accessories from one manufacturer, this warranty ensures your entire roof is covered for the life of the materials. 

Because the enhanced warranty covers your full roof, architectural and luxury shingles are the clear winner for the material warranty category. 


Asphalt shingles are the most affordable roofing materials on the market today. However, their price points are drastically different. 

A 3-tab shingle roof is the cheapest option, costing around $4.00 per square foot. An architectural shingle roof is the middle-of-the-road option, costing around $5.86 per square foot. 

Luxury shingles are the most expensive option and will cost around $8.00 per square foot. While the luxury option is much more expensive, the lifespan and curb appeal make them worth the investment if you have the budget. 

However, the price point and material quality of architectural shingles are why they are the most popular roofing material on the market. Even though 3-tab shingles are cheaper, you’re more likely to spend more on repairs and need a replacement sooner. 

So, spend 15% more on architectural shingles to get a better quality roof. But no matter what shingle you choose, it’s crucial to invest in quality over trying to get the cheapest roof possible.

What are the best shingle brands?

There you have it; you now know how the three types of shingles compare to each other on key factors. If you’re like most homeowners on a set budget, you’ll most likely get architectural shingles for the crossover of affordability and quality. 

However, luxury shingles are well worth the investment if you have the budget. No matter what, though, I’m confident you have the information needed to choose the right shingle for your situation. 

But while there are three types of shingles, there are many more shingle brands. Even if you choose architectural shingles, each brand offers something different. 

That’s why you need to know the top shingle brands and what they offer your future roof investment.

Check out The Top 5 Roof Shingle Brands to learn more about the best manufacturers and their shingles.

roofing material quiz


Table Of Contents

Related Articles