Are Architectural Shingles Worth The Extra Cost?

So, it’s about that time – your current roof is showing signs of its age and you’re looking at your choices for replacements. While your current roof probably doesn’t have architectural shingles, they are an easy upgrade over 3-tab shingles. But, if you’re looking to save some extra cash you might wonder if the architectural shingles are really worth it.

Keep reading to learn what makes an architectural shingle different from a 3-tab shingle, and what makes them a worthwhile upgrade!

What is an Architectural Roofing Shingle?

Architectural roofing shingles were introduced to the market in the 1980s. This type of shingle was originally released primarily to offer an aesthetic upgrade and enhanced curb appeal over traditional three-tab shingles. This improvement comes by way of their extra thickness which gives a dimensional look allowing them to replicate the appearance of wood shake and slate shingles.

Architectural shingles are constructed using a laminated design, with alternating layers of asphalt, and fiberglass mat. Unlike 3-tab shingles, these laminations are repeated – resulting in a double-decker sandwich of asphalt and fiberglass. The entire shingle is then topped with a layer of mineral granules which provide both visual texture, color, and most importantly increase the shingles’ durability.

High-end shingles, like those from GAF Roofing, offer a final protective layer that locks in the color and prevents algal growth.

What are architectural shingles?

What are 3-tab shingles?

Three-tab shingles are probably what you imagine when you think of a typical shingle roof. These shingles are called 3-tab because each shingle is a rectangle that has two notches cut into it, forming a 3-tabbed shape.

These shingles consist of only a single sandwiched layer of fiberglass and asphalt, resulting in a much thinner shingle compared to architectural roofing shingles. Due to their thin profile, these roofs generally lack the visual appeal of an architectural shingle roof.

Cost for architectural shingles vs asphalt shingles

Once upon a time architectural shingles were known for costing more than 3-tab shingles – both to buy and to install. However today the price difference is minimal, with architectural shingles costing only marginally more to purchase. Generally installation costs work out to be the same for either type of product.

Even if you are trying to pinch pennies it’s important to take into consideration overall product lifespan and future roof repair costs. Architectural shingles last longer and are more resistant to damage, lowering roof costs over time. Further, home buyers take into consideration which roofing product is installed and homeowners see greater resale value when their house has architectural shingles.

Architectural shingle warranty


For any given brand, architectural shingles almost always come with a longer and more inclusive warranty. Using GAF’s product line as an example, you can see that their Royal Sovereign 3-tab shingles come with an impressive sounding 25-30 year warranty. On the other hand, their Timberline architectural shingles come with a lifetime warranty. This means that the product is warrantied for the entire time you own the house.

GAF’s warranties, both lifetime and shorter-term, are transferable to second owners. For GAF’s System Plus Limited Warranty (which requires installation by GAF certified roofing contractors) the transfer period is 20 years for traditional 3-tab shingles and 50 years for architectural shingles.

The extreme length of the warranty period speaks to GAF’s confidence in their products and is a great way to boost the resale value of your house as it gives buyers peace of mind.


As you might expect from a product with a longer warranty, architectural shingles are simply more durable and offer a greater lifespan than 3-tab shingles. Beyond their aesthetic advantages, the greatest benefits of architectural shingles are their enhanced impact and wind resistance.

High winds cause damage to roofs by bending the shingles upward, causing them to shear and break off. Due to their thicker and heavier construction architectural shingles naturally resist higher wind speeds.

This enhanced protection against wind is reflected in the warranties of each of these products, with 3-tab shingles offering coverage up to 80 mph winds versus the 130 mph wind speed coverage offered on GAF Timberline’s most basic warranty. If you have your roof installed by a GAF certified contractor then their architectural shingles come with an unlimited wind speed warranty!

The story is similar for resistance to hail-damage. The thicker architectural shingles are more capable of shrugging off impacts that cause the thinner 3-tab shingles to crack.


Not all home upgrade decisions are simple – but when it comes to roofing projects the choice between architectural shingles and 3-tab shingles is actually fairly easy. Between their greater curb appeal, longer warranty, improved home resale value, wind resistance, and impact durability, architectural shingles are undeniably a superior product.

If you are looking for a roof replacement keep in mind that in order to get the most from your chosen roofing material’s warranty you’ll need to have it installed by a certified roofer. Rennison Roofing is a GAF Certified Contractor which means you can expect your roof to last as long as its lifetime warranty. All you need to do to get started is contact us for a free estimate!