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The 3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles debate is longstanding. The only way to know which option is best for your home is to break down each option’s pros and cons. The guide below explains both asphalt shingle types in detail to help you decide on your ideal roof replacement or installation material.

When you need a reliable roof contractor to repair or install a shingle roof in Flagstaff, AZ, turn to Polaris Roofing Systems. Schedule your consultation today!

What Are 3-Tab Shingles?

3-Tab Shingles

3-tab shingles are durable mats with a fiberglass base and a mineral granule coating. The mats have their name because each one looks like three separate pieces. The roof material’s design and uniformity give off a neat and polished aesthetic despite being one of the simplest and cheapest roofing materials.

What Are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural Shingles

Because of their simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and quality materials, 3-tab shingles are popular for asphalt roof installations and replacements. However, the architectural or laminated shingle is a significant upgrade to basic asphalt shingles. 

Architectural shingles have a unique thickness with various cuts and shapes to mimic other desirable yet expensive roofing materials, like natural slate tiles and cedar shakes. Though these upgraded asphalt shingles can resemble costly roofing materials, they still have the lighter weight, flammability resistance, low maintenance, and low costs that people often associate with asphalt shingles. 

How Do 3-Tab and Architectural Shingles Differ?

Before choosing your side on the 3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles debate, it’s best to learn how the roofing materials compare in different categories. For instance, you might appreciate the low cost of 3-tab asphalt shingles but prefer the versatility of laminated shingles. The details below can help you decide which option is best for your home’s roofing system. 

Visual Appeal

Though both roofing materials are asphalt shingles, they don’t look the same. Architectural shingles have distinct shapes and textures that give roofs dimension and enhance the property’s curb appeal. Manufacturers achieve this design by adding multiple material layers to the base. 

However, 3-tab asphalt shingles are flat. Each shingle has the same shape and size, giving roofs a uniform look. While the basic shingle design is visually pleasing, the laminated variety has a more unique and expensive aesthetic. 

Wind Ratings

Both shingle types are durable enough to withstand strong winds. Most 3-tab shingles can handle winds up to 60 miles per hour. Since architectural shingles have multiple layers and better material quality, their wind ratings range from 80 to 120 miles per hour. 


Overall, asphalt shingles have a good lifespan. This roofing material can last for 10 to 30 years with proper installation from professional roofers. 

The type of asphalt shingles on your roof will affect their longevity. For instance, 3-tab shingles generally last between 10 to 25 years in mild climates, but the architectural variety’s lifespan is about 15 to 30 years under ideal conditions. However, severe weather and a lack of maintenance will shorten both roofing materials’ lifespans. 


Many prefer asphalt shingles because of their versatility. Although 3-tab shingles create a clean, uniform look, homeowners can choose from dozens of colors for their roofs. Despite the shingles’ flatness and simple appearance, you can still find an option that complements your home’s exterior design. 

Architectural shingles are also versatile and offer many colors and textures. They come in various shapes and shading options, allowing you to broaden your home’s exterior design choices. 

Installation Process

Most lightweight roofing materials are easy for roofing contractors to handle, so installations tend to be quick. Since 3-tab shingles are thin and light, roofing contractors can quickly install them. However, installing architectural shingles requires fewer tools than other asphalt shingles, making the process simpler.

Who installs the shingles will affect the installation process. No matter your roofing material preferences, hiring roofing professionals who know how to work with them is always best. The more experience a roofing contractor has working with different roofing materials, the more efficiently they can install or replace your roof. 

Professional Shingle Roofing in Flagstaff, AZ

professional shingle roofing services

No matter your preferred asphalt shingles, rest assured that our professional roofers at Polaris Roofing Systems can expertly install them. We offer superior roof replacement and installation services to ensure our clients have beautiful, structurally sound roofing systems. Our trained technicians also provide flat roof repair, shingle roof replacement, standing water solutions, and roof leak repair for all types of roofs.

Once you decide your stance on the 3-tab shingles vs. architectural shingles debate, call us at Polaris Roofing Systems in Flagstaff, AZ, at (928) 699-4840 for a free consultation for roofing services

Justin Young

Justin Young

Justin young has been in the construction trade for nearly 25 years, focusing on insurance restoration and roofing. While attending Arizona State he worked in new construction custom homes until the opportunity came to get back into restoration and roofing. Roofing came full circle and Justin was promoted to General Manager of a local roofing company. As that progressed he ventured out on his own to start his own company, Polaris Roofing Systems. He prides himself on being on the cutting edge of roofing materials, applications and roof quality. Justin enjoys spending time with his 2 young children and wife. Justin prides himself, his company and continued growth on the people around him and the integrity for which it stands for.

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