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The 3 Types of Asphalt Shingles

November 13th, 2023 | 8 min. read

The 3 Types of Asphalt Shingles

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Asphalt shingles have been the standard in the roofing industry for decades and continue to be to this day. But did you know there are 3 different types of asphalt shingles?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. Many homeowners think an asphalt shingle is just an asphalt shingle, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners choose the right asphalt shingle for their situation. That’s why I want to break down everything you need to know about each one. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What are the 3 types of asphalt shingles (cost, lifespan, warranty, and the pros and cons)
  • How do you choose the right type of asphalt shingle?

What are the 3 types of asphalt shingles?

The 3 types of asphalt shingles are 3-tab, architectural, and luxury. The great thing about asphalt shingles is there’s one for every budget and home aesthetic.

However, there are massive differences between the 3 types. Let’s look at each shingle’s basic information, look, cost, lifespan, warranty, and pros and cons. 

3-tab asphalt shingles

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

3 tab asphalt shingles

Cost: ≈$4.00 per square foot

Lifespan: 20 years at most

Material warranty: 25-year limited warranty from the manufacturer

3-tab asphalt shingle pros:

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

3-tab asphalt shingle cons:

Architectural asphalt 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 popular asphalt shingle but also the most common roofing material installed on homes in general.

architectural asphalt shingles

Cost: ≈$5.86 per square foot

Lifespan: 22-25 years 

Material warranty: 30-year warranty (prorated after 10 years) from the manufacturer. Upgrade to a 50-year non-prorated enhanced warranty with a full roof system.

Architectural asphalt shingle pros:

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

Architectural asphalt shingle cons:

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

Luxury asphalt shingles

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

luxury asphalt shingles

Cost: ≈$8.00 per square foot

Lifespan: 30 years or longer in perfect conditions

Material warranty: 30-year warranty (prorated after 10 years) from the manufacturer. Upgrade to a 50-year non-prorated enhanced warranty with a full roof system.

Luxury asphalt shingle pros:

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

Luxury asphalt shingle cons:

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

How do you choose the right type of asphalt shingle?

At this point, you should have an idea of which asphalt shingle is right for you. However, it’s hard to compare the shingles without proper context. 

The best way to do this is by asking yourself questions about your situation and using your answers to narrow down which one is right for you. 

How much do I want to increase my home’s curb appeal?

The first thing you need to determine is which asphalt shingles you like the look of and how much they’ll increase your home’s curb appeal. If you don’t care about the look at all, 3-tab asphalt shingles have the lowest curb appeal of the 3 types. 

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

Unfortunately, color options are limited, and some areas may not even stock them anymore. On the other hand, architectural asphalt shingles have plenty of color options, and certain ones even try to mimic cedar shakes.

architectural asphalt shingle roof(Architectural asphalt shingle roof)

While they have a lower curb appeal than other roofing materials, they still give your home a great look. However, the slate look of luxury asphalt shingles is the way to go if you really want to boost your home’s curb appeal. 

luxury asphalt shingle roof(Luxury asphalt shingle roof)

At the end of the day, all 3 types make for good-looking roofs. However, you should go with architectural or luxury asphalt shingles if you want to increase your home’s curb appeal.  

Do I want the best material warranties?

Next, you need to ask yourself what you want from your material warranty. Each asphalt shingle comes out of the package with standard material warranties from the manufacturer. 

The only material warranty for 3-tab asphalt shingles is a 25-year limited warranty from the manufacturer. On the other hand, both architectural and luxury asphalt shingles have a 30-year prorated warranty but have the opportunity to turn into a 50-year non-prorated enhanced warranty. 

To get an 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 installation, this warranty ensures the manufacturer covers all of your roofing materials for the life of your roof.

If warranties and extra protection are important, architectural and luxury asphalt shingles are definitely the way to go. 

How long do I want my asphalt shingle roof to last?

Other than resale value, a roof’s lifespan is the ROI you get from your investment. That’s why you need to ask yourself how long you want your roof to last

3-tab shingles have the shortest lifespan of 3 types and should last around 20 years. Architectural and luxury shingles both have a manufactured stated lifespan of 30 years, but architectural will realistically last around 25 years.  

However, luxury style should get to 30 years and potentially with up to 50 in the right conditions. As long as the asphalt shingles are properly installed and your attic is adequately ventilated, they’ll get as close as possible to the above lifespans.

What’s my roof replacement budget?

The most important thing you need to ask is how much you’re willing to spend on your asphalt shingle roof. Pricing is a concern for most homeowners, and your budget is the biggest thing that impacts your asphalt shingle choice. 

If you’re looking for the cheapest asphalt shingle on the market, a 3-tab shingle is the way to go. But with them being phased out of the industry, they’re becoming less available. 

Architectural asphalt shingles are the best affordable quality roofing material on the market for most budgets, but they will still be around 20% to 30% more expensive than 3-tab. Luxury asphalt shingles are the most expensive asphalt shingle options. 

They’ll be almost the cost of architectural asphalt shingles but are more durable, have a longer lifespan, and greatly increase curb appeal. If your budget isn’t a concern, luxury asphalt shingles are a great option. 

But no matter which one you choose, your asphalt shingle roof will be a sizable investment

What should you know before diving into a roof replacement?

After reading this article, you should have a good idea of which asphalt shingle is right for you. If you and your budget are like most homeowners, you’ll most likely go with architectural asphalt shingles. 

However, you can’t beat luxury shingles if you have the budget. No matter which one you choose, you’re about to embark on a huge project. 

And picking the right shingle is just one thing to think about and consider before replacing your roof. That’s why I wrote another article breaking down the 7 things every homeowner should consider before a roof replacement. 

Check out the 7 Things You Need to Consider Before You Replace Your Roof to get the crucial information you need before calling a roofer or signing a contract.

roofing material quiz

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