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What is the Difference Between Architectural Shingles & 3-Tab Shingles?

Your home will likely be one of the most significant investments you make in life. Protecting this asset is essential, and the quality and durability of your roof should be a top concern. It is also important to choose a Memphis roofing contractor with a solid reputation and warranty. When it comes to installing a new roof on your home, you have many choices of materials to choose from. You may select the typical route of basic asphalt shingles, yet many roofing specialists now recommend architectural shingles. There is an ongoing debate on which type of shingles is best. In this blog, we will discuss the pros and cons of both so that you have the best resource at your disposal when it is time to determine which type of shingles you would like to use.  

The Basics of Asphalt Shingles 

Asphalt shingles are a roofing material consisting of asphalt, fiberglass, and ceramic granules. Asphalt shingles are made up of three layers. The first layer, or the base tab, is usually fiberglass, then the fiberglass is coated with a layer of asphalt as the second tab, and the third layer, also the top tab, is made up of ceramic granules. Asphalt is used because it provides superior water protection for your home. The result is a lightweight yet durable material that is typically less expensive than other alternatives. 

There are many types of asphalt shingles. The two most common are 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles. They both share the benefits of being durable, and in addition, they are available in assorted colors so homeowners can customize the look of their roofs. 

The Differences Between Architectural Shingles and 3-Tab Shingles 

Although architectural and 3-tab shingles are closely related, they are vastly different. Here are a few main differences between the two types of shingles. 


3-Tab shingles are designed to look as if there are three individual shingles, even though, as we discussed earlier, they are layered and all one piece. Architectural shingles have an additional layer of asphalt, so they appear more prominent and denser. The bulkiness gives them a look like slate or wood shingles. Both are still offered in a variety of colors. 


Since architectural shingles have an extra layer of asphalt, they can withstand winds of up to 110 miles per hour. This additional layer significantly increases these shingles’ durability. As a result, they are perfect for homes that receive harsh weather and are more resilient to hail and snow. The 3-tab shingles are still durable and protect your home from heavy rain, snow, and sun exposure, they are not as durable as architectural shingles. 

West Tennessee residents see their fair share of extreme weather. Memphis and the surrounding communities commonly see thunderstorms that produce high wind and even hail. It is common to have the occasional tornado, which can also cause extreme damage to roofs and homes. Severe winter conditions also can produce high winds and snow which can also lead to roofing damage. This is one of many reasons so many residents choose architectural shingles.  


Asphalt shingles, in general, have an impressive lifespan. Your typical 3-tab shingles can last from 10-20 years. They can even last 25 years in places with mild climates. However, architectural shingles can last much longer, with a lifespan of 15-25 years, and if kept in pristine condition, they can last up to 30 years. 


With all that we have discussed, it is no secret that architectural shingles are more expensive than 3-tab shingles. Yet, remember that you may have to repair and replace 3-tab shingles in the future since they are not as durable as architectural shingles. 

Overall, there are pros and cons to both. For example, while we have discussed the durability of architectural shingles, they are also hard to install, and you will need to be prepared for the investment. Yet while 3-tab shingles are less expensive they will likely require more maintenance costing you more overall. 

In the end, it is up to your personal preference. Regardless of the shingles you choose, be sure you hire a reliable roofing contractor like Brian Elder Roofing. At Brian Elder Roofing, we are considered one of the best roofing companies in Memphis. We are professional and fair and do an excellent job. To schedule a consultation with Brian Elder Roofing, contact us at (901) 867-0303. 

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