Architectural Shingles vs. 3 Tab Shingles

When it comes to residential roofing, the two most common types of asphalt shingles are architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles. Many older homes are roofed with 3-tab shingles, while newer homes are usually roofed with architectural shingles. To help you discern the difference, we have broken down the pros and cons of each type.

Why Asphalt?

Before we delve into the specific differences between the two types of shingless, let’s answer a fundamental question: why do people select asphalt shingles in the first place? Part of their popularity can be ascribed to their competitive pricing and numerous options. While nowhere near as durable as roofing materials like slate, cedar shakes, clay tiles, or metal, asphalt shingles still provide a decent level of protection from the elements at only a fraction of the cost.

Size and Shape

One of the most noticeable areas of difference between the two shingle styles is size and shape. 3-tab shingles have a single size whereas architectural shingles are more varied. The latter’s varying shapes facilitate a dimensional aesthetic that gives the roof a shake-like appearance. Due to their size, architectural shingles are typically more expensive.


3-tab shingles feature a single layer and are the more simplistic of the two. Their single layer design means they weigh much less than their dimensional counterpart. On the other hand, architectural shingles can weigh up to 50 percent more than 3-tab shingles.


Because they use less material, 3-tab shingles are thinner and often need to be replaced sooner. Naturally, this means their warranty is much shorter. Architectural shingles, however, are much thicker than their counterparts and usually include a lengthy warranty. On top of that, architectural shingles are ideal for wind resistance and other adverse conditions.


Most residential properties still prefer to use 3-tab shingles. This is typically because of the fact that architectural shingles are more expensive. However, architectural shingles are perfect for those looking to preserve or increase the value of their home. For this reason, architectural shingles are the preferred route for most homeowners, which is demonstrative of the fact that 3-tab shingles are declining in popularity.

Need some assistance with maintaining or replacing your roof? Contact Mark’s Custom Exteriors today at (503) 397-2215. In business for over 25 years, MCE are the most trusted roof replacement and maintenance resource throughout the Portland Metro, Columbia County, and Northern Coast areas. Their impeccable team is ready to respond to any roof related inquiries you may have.

Angie Holcomb

Author: Angie Holcomb

In late 1993, one year after their marriage, Angie and Mark Holcomb decided it was time to follow their dream, and the couple set out to launch their own business. One year later, in 1994, Marks Custom Exteriors was established, one loving couple, one new truck and a passion for their vision. 25 years and many roofs later, MCE has grown to become Portland's premier roofing company and one of the only Nationally Recognized Roofing Companies in the State of Oregon as a GAF Master Elite Contractor. They remain committed to building lasting relationships with their customers through outstanding customer service, expert craftsmanship, and professional behavior and appearance among every member of our team.