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How Much Does Upgrading 3-tab Shingles to Architectural Shingles Cost?

July 6th, 2022 | 7 min. read

How Much Does Upgrading 3-tab Shingles to Architectural Shingles Cost?

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Spending money on a new 3-tab shingle roof isn’t fun. So, it makes sense that you don’t want to spend more than you have to.

But sometimes, it’s worth spending more money upfront for the benefits in the long run. You do this by upgrading your old 3-tab shingle roof to the next step up, architectural shingles. 

But how much does upgrading 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles cost? The answer might surprise you. 

For over 30 years, the Bill Ragan Roofing team has provided homeowners with unbiased roofing information so they can make the best decisions. For this reason, I want to help determine if upgrading 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles is a good idea for you and your wallet. 

This article covers the following:

  • A quick overview of what 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles are.
  • How much it costs to upgrade 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles. 
  • 4 reasons why it’s worth it to upgrade a 3-tab roof to an architectural roof. 

What are 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles?

3-tab shingles and architectural shingles (also known as dimensional shingles) are both asphalt-based roofing materials. You can tell the difference between the two based on their unique look.

3 tab asphalt shingles(3-tab shingles)

3-tab asphalt shingles lay flat and have 3 tabs on each shingle strip, hence the name 3-tab shingles.

architectural asphalt shingles(Architectural shingles)

Architectural shingles have a random pattern to give your roof dimension or simulate the look of wood/cedar shakes.

3-tab shingles used to be the standard of the asphalt shingles types and dominated the roofing industry. But with the improvement of technology, manufacturers developed architectural shingles. 

Because of this, architectural shingles are the most common type of asphalt shingle and roofing material on residential roofs today. 

How much does it cost to upgrade 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles?

Now that we got the quick overview out of the way, you’re ready to learn how much it’ll cost to upgrade 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles. But before I get to that, I have to give you a little disclaimer. 

Unfortunately, it's impossible to give you exact pricing for the two shingles because the cost of roofing materials fluctuate, and every roof is different. But I can still give you a rough cost number. 

You can expect a 3-tab shingle roof to cost around $4.00 per square foot, while you can expect an architectural shingle roof to cost around $5.86 per square foot. This is almost a $2.00 difference to upgrade 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles. 

Now keep in mind that there are a ton of factors that determine the cost of your new roof. So, the price will be different based on the roofing contractor, the price of materials in your area, the makeup of your roof, and much more. 

However, architectural shingles will always be worth a little more than 3-tab shingles. Now you need to ask yourself the question, “Is it worth it to upgrade to architectural shingles?”

4 reasons why it’s worth it to upgrade your 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles

So, is it really worth spending the money to upgrade 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles? The real answer is that it’s up to you. 

However, I always recommend upgrading 3-tab shingles to another roofing material. Below are the 4 main reasons why I make this recommendation.

1. 3-tab shingles are phasing out of the roofing industry

As I said, 3-tab shingles have been around for a long time and dominated the roofing industry in the past. But as technology improved, manufacturers developed a better quality roofing material, and architectural shingles were born.

They are now the most common roofing material used in the US today instead of 3-tab shingles. Because of this, 3-tab shingles are gradually phasing out of the roofing industry. 

This makes finding them in general harder, their color options are limited, and suppliers in your area may not carry 3-tab shingles anymore. With supplies becoming limited, finding matches for 3-tab shingle repairs or a color you like for your roof replacement is even harder.  

Just know that 3-tab shingles won’t disappear overnight. But remember, there’s a reason they’re phasing out of the industry. 

2. Architectural shingles have a longer lifespan than 3-tab shingles

You just learned in the last section that architectural shingles are a better quality material than 3-tab shingles. This brings us to the next reason why I recommend upgrading your 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles: they have a longer lifespan.

3-tab shingles have a 25-year manufacturer-specified lifespan, while architectural shingles have a 30-year manufacturer-specified lifespan. Unfortunately, these numbers are a little misleading. 

You should get around 80-85% of a shingle’s maximum lifespan. This means you should get around 20 years out of 3-tab shingles and around 25 years out of architectural shingles. 

Keep in mind that the shingles may not reach these numbers due to all the factors that impact a roof's life. But as long as both types of asphalt shingles are properly installed and your attic is adequately ventilated, you’ll get pretty close to their maximum lifespan.

3. Architectural shingles have better warranties than 3-tab shingles 

After the lifespan, the biggest reason I recommend upgrading 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles is better protection in the form of material warranty opportunities. Both types of shingles come with a standard material warranty right out of the package from the manufacturer. 

3-tab shingles come with a 25-year warranty, while architectural shingles come with a 30-year prorated warranty. This doesn’t look like a major upgrade on the surface. 

However, architectural shingles come with the opportunity to get a 50-year non-prorated enhanced warranty. This enhanced warranty means the manufacturer covers your entire roof for the life of the roofing materials themselves. 

But to get the enhanced warranty, you must have all of the roofing components and materials (including your architectural shingles) from one manufacturer to form a complete roof system.

Just know that improper roof installation and inadequate attic ventilation void an enhanced warranty. This makes hiring a high-quality roofing contractor to install your asphalt shingles crucial, regardless of whether you decide to upgrade.

4. Architectural shingles stand up to wind better than 3-tab shingles

The last reason I recommend upgrading 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles is that they simply stand up to wind and storm damage better. In fact, 3-tab shingles are much more susceptible to wind damage. 

Let’s compare CertainTeed’s XT25 3-tab shingle and CertainTeed’s Landmark Pro shingle to see how drastic the wind resistance between the two is. 

CertainTeed’s XT25 3-tab shingles have a 60 mph wind-resistance warranty. On the other hand, Landmark Pro architectural shingles have a 110 mph wind-resistance warranty, with the option to get a 130 mph warranty by using starter shingles and CertainTeed’s hip/ridge capping. 

I’m sure you recognized this is a sizable difference in the ability to resist strong wind storms. Just know that the shingle’s wind resistance means nothing if they weren’t improperly installed in the first place. 

So, upgrading to architectural shingles for the extra wind resistance won’t be worth it if your roofing contractor didn’t do the job right.

The tips you need to find a great local roofing contractor

Now you know the 4 reasons why I recommend upgrading your 3-tab shingles to architectural shingles. It’s worth spending the extra money for more life, durability, and protection. 

However, it’s still 100% your decision if upgrading is worth it. Whether you decide to upgrade or not, choosing the right shingle means nothing without hiring a great roofing contractor to install it. 

With the roofing industry becoming more and more saturated, it’s harder than ever to find a reputable company. I want to make it easier for you to spot a great one out of the sea of options.

That’s why I wrote another article that gives you 7 tips every homeowner needs to make the right hire for their upcoming roofing project. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality asphalt shingle roofing services to thousands of homeowners in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas. No matter which shingle you choose, you can count on our workmanship to maximize your investment. 

Here are 7 Tips to Find a Great Roofing Contractor in your area for your asphalt shingle roofing needs. 

roofing contractor questions checklist

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