The Upgrade Question: 3 Tab or Architectural Shingles

What is the difference?  Why should I upgrade?

The time has come to replace your roof, and the roofer asks if you want to go back with 3 tab shingles or if you’d like to upgrade to architectural shingles.  Your knee-jerk reaction might be to think that they are just trying to get more money out of you, but don’t clamp down on your wallet just yet!  Upgrading could save you a LOT of money in the long run.


CertainTeed Landmark and Shadow Ridge
CertainTeed Landmark Shingles with Shadow Ridge ridge cap shingles over ridge vents.

If you’ve had a 3 tab roof on your home, you’re not alone.  This is the economical shingle type with a life of 20-25 years.   More than likely, though, those shingles won’t see their full life span and will require replacement sooner due to one reason or another.  17 years on a 3tab roof seems to be the magic number lately around here.


Every roof is different, but let’s say that your upgrade expense is $750. What are you getting for that extra amount of money, when you could already be paying $8,000 or more? Well, the answer is A LOT!


We’ll be using the specs off of CertainTeed Landmark architectural shingles for this comparison when upgrading from a 3 tab shingle:


  • Increase from a 20 or 25 year rating to “Lifetime” which is 50 years in the case of CertainTeed’s Landmark architectural shingle.  The non-prorated part of the warranty jumps from 5 years to 10 years too.  This is doubling the investment for a fraction of the price.  (There is a 30 year 3 tab, but it offers little to no savings against an architectural shingle.)
  • Appearance: 3 tab shingles don’t have the dimensional aspect of architectural shingles. Some describe the architectural as a thatched or layered look. If your roofer is doing the job correctly, they’re also going to upgrade your ridge cap material to match the lifetime rating.  In this case, it translates to the Shadow Ridge product which also has a more dimensional appearance.
  • Weight: An extra 25 lbs. per 10’x10’ section for the architectural shingles. (This is a good thing. You want solid materials on your roof.)
  • In the case of CertainTeed’s XT25 3tab versus their Landmark architectural shingle, the wind warranty jumps from 5 years / 60 MPH to 15 years / 110-130 MPH.    Simply put: Have you ever driven down the road and seen a house with what looks like missing shingles? Sometimes they are missing because of shoddy work, but more often, it is because of wind.
    3 tab shingles with wind damage

    After a while, wind works underneath the shingles to loosen them and eventually flips them up. 3 tab shingles are especially prone to this because of their tabbed design. Architectural shingles are a solid piece, but 3 tab shingles have three tabs, meaning they are notched.

  • You’ll have one of the prettiest roofs in the neighborhood. (OK, That is subjective.)


At Total Pro Roofing, we understand that everyone has different preferences and we respect the consumer’s decision given their unique factors and circumstances. We pride ourselves on providing as much information as possible for roofing as a home investment that protects everything underneath it. After all, the best decisions are the most informed ones.