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Understanding the Different Types of Asphalt Shingles

Close up of roof with asphalt shingles

Close up of roof with asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles have long been a favorite among homeowners and contractors alike for their versatility, affordability, and durability. They offer many design options, allowing homeowners to customize their roofs to match their unique aesthetic preferences. Whether you’re building a new home or replacing an old roof, understanding the different types of asphalt shingles can help you make an informed decision. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of asphalt shingles, exploring the various types available on the market, their features, benefits, and considerations to help you choose the perfect fit for your roofing needs.

The Basics of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are a widely used roofing material, known for their durability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of installation. They are made by embedding either a fiberglass or felt paper base with asphalt, which is then covered with colored granules that provide additional benefits such as UV protection and aesthetic appeal. The versatility of asphalt shingles allows them to adapt to various architectural styles, making them a popular choice for homeowners and builders alike. In the following sections, we will delve into the different types of asphalt shingles and explore their unique characteristics and applications.

Types of Asphalt Shingles

3-Tab Asphalt Shingles

Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles In Black
Source: CertainTeed

3-Tab Asphalt Shingles are a type of roofing material that is widely used across the globe. They derive their name from their design, which features three individual tabs, each measuring 12 inches in width. These shingles are typically flat with a simple rectangular shape, giving the roof a more uniform and consistent look.


Pros of 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles


One of the biggest advantages of 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles is their cost-effectiveness. They are among the most affordable roofing materials on the market, making them an excellent choice for homeowners on a budget.


3-Tab shingles are lighter than other types of asphalt shingles, which makes them easier to install, reducing labor costs. Their lightweight nature also means they exert less stress on the roof structure.


Despite being cheaper, 3-Tab shingles don’t skimp on aesthetics. They come in a wide range of colors and shades, allowing homeowners to choose one that best matches their home’s exterior.

Cons of 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles


While 3-Tab shingles are economical, they tend to be less durable compared to other types of asphalt shingles, like architectural or luxury shingles. They can withstand winds up to 60-70 mph but may get damaged in severe weather conditions.


The lifespan of 3-Tab shingles is shorter than other types of shingles. On average, they last about 10-20 years, depending on the local climate and maintenance, whereas architectural shingles can last 30 years or more.

Aesthetic Limitations

While 3-Tab shingles offer a variety of colors, their flat appearance and uniform shape might not provide the dimensional aesthetic that some homeowners desire. If you’re looking for a more unique or textured roof appearance, other types of shingles may be more suitable.

Architectural Asphalt Shingles

Architectural Asphalt Shingles
Source: CertainTeed

Architectural asphalt shingles, sometimes referred to as dimensional or laminated shingles, are an exceptional type of roofing material known for their outstanding quality. These shingles are crafted with two or more layers of asphalt that are meticulously fused together, resulting in a thicker and richer multi-dimensional appearance. This unique design aims to faithfully replicate the timeless charm of natural wood or slate shingles, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to any architectural style.

Pros of Architectural Asphalt Shingles


Architectural shingles are built to last. They are heavier and thicker than 3-tab shingles, which makes them more resistant to harsh weather conditions. Most architectural asphalt shingles can withstand wind speeds up to 120 mph.


These shingles typically have a longer lifespan compared to 3-tab shingles. With proper maintenance, architectural asphalt shingles can last anywhere from 25 to 30 years or more.

Aesthetic Appeal

Architectural asphalt shingles are available in various colors and styles. Their multi-dimensional texture gives a luxurious and sophisticated look to any roof, closely mimicking the appearance of more expensive roofing materials like cedar or slate.

Cons of Architectural Asphalt Shingles


While architectural shingles are more durable and long-lasting, they also come with a higher price tag compared to 3-tab shingles. However, considering their longevity and the visual appeal they offer, many homeowners find them to be a cost-effective solution in the long run.


Due to their multi-layered structure, architectural asphalt shingles are heavier than 3-tab shingles. This means that they might not be suitable for all homes. Before installation, it’s essential to ensure that the structure of the home can support the weight of these shingles.


Installing architectural shingles can be more complex due to their weight and design. It’s recommended to have them installed by a professional to ensure they are fitted correctly and securely.

Luxury Asphalt Shingles

Close up of architectural shingles
Source: CertainTeed

Luxury asphalt shingles, also known as premium or designer shingles, are the highest-quality offering in the asphalt shingle category. They are designed to provide a similar appearance to more expensive roofing materials like slate and cedar but at a fraction of the cost. These shingles are multi-layered and heavier than other asphalt shingles, providing superior durability and a unique aesthetic appeal.

Pros of Luxury Asphalt Shingles

Superior Aesthetics

Luxury asphalt shingles offer the most realistic replication of high-end materials such as slate and wood shake. They come in a wide range of colors and styles, allowing homeowners to customize the look of their roofs to suit their personal preferences and the architectural style of their homes.

High Durability

Not only are luxury shingles aesthetically pleasing, but they are also highly durable. Their multi-layered construction provides excellent resistance to harsh weather conditions, including heavy rain, strong winds, and hail.

Long Lifespan

Due to their high-quality construction, luxury asphalt shingles typically have a longer lifespan compared to other types of asphalt shingles. With proper maintenance, they can last up to 50 years or more.

Cons of Luxury Asphalt Shingles


While luxury asphalt shingles are less expensive than real slate or wood shake, they are the most expensive type of asphalt shingles. Homeowners need to consider this higher initial investment against the long-term benefits these shingles offer.


Like architectural shingles, luxury asphalt shingles are heavier due to their multi-layered structure. It’s crucial to ensure that your home’s structure can support this additional weight before installation.

Installation Complexity

The installation of luxury asphalt shingles is more complex and time-consuming due to their weight and design. It’s recommended to use a professional roofer.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Asphalt Shingles


One of the first factors to consider when choosing asphalt shingles is your budget. The cost can vary significantly depending on the type of shingle you choose. Standard 3-tab shingles are the most affordable, while luxury or designer shingles are more expensive.

Aesthetic Preferences

Asphalt shingles come in a wide range of colors and styles. From the traditional look of 3-tab shingles to the more sophisticated appearance of architectural or luxury shingles, there’s something to suit every aesthetic preference. Consider the architectural style of your home and your personal tastes when choosing shingles.


The durability of the shingles is another important factor to consider. While all asphalt shingles are fairly durable, architectural and luxury shingles are thicker and tend to be more resistant to wind and weather damage.


Different types of asphalt shingles have different weights. Luxury shingles, for instance, are quite heavy and may not be suitable for all homes. Before making a decision, ensure that your home’s structure can support the weight of the shingles.


Some types of asphalt shingles require more complex installation than others. If you plan on installing the shingles yourself, you might want to opt for a type that’s easier to install. However, for best results, it’s recommended to hire a professional roofer, especially for the installation of heavier luxury or architectural shingles.


Finally, consider the maintenance requirements of the shingles. All shingles require some degree of maintenance to ensure their longevity, but the specifics can vary depending on the type of shingle. For instance, some may be more prone to algae growth and may require regular cleaning.

Choosing the right type of asphalt shingle for your home is a decision that requires careful consideration of various factors such as budget, aesthetic preferences, durability, and maintenance. With the wide range of options available, from economical 3-tab shingles to high-end luxury shingles, there’s an asphalt shingle to suit every need and preference. By understanding the different types of asphalt shingles, their features, and benefits, you can make an informed choice that will enhance the beauty of your home, provide protection against the elements, and offer great value for your investment. Remember, a well-chosen roof not only adds curb appeal but also increases the longevity and value of your home.

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