What Are Architectural Asphalt Shingles? Cost & Effectiveness

Architectural asphalt shingles — or dimensional shingles — are among the more high-quality options for asphalt roofing. Such roofing products offer increased resistance to high winds and extreme weather conditions while providing a more textured appearance than other types of roofing or shingles. As with this general type of roofing, you’ll have the option of hiring a roofing contractor or going the DIY route. Read on to learn more about:

  • Varied costs between different asphalt shingles
  • How different asphalt roofs hold up to different climates
  • The general benefits of each type of asphalt shingle
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Pros and Cons of Architectural Roofing Shingles


  • Dimensional look caused by varied thickness
  • Better wind resistance due to the higher weight of the shingles
  • They can still be installed without the help of a roofer
  • They can last upwards of 20 years with proper maintenance


  • Cost more than other asphalt roofing materials
  • Heavier construction makes sturdy roof decking a requirement

What is the Difference Between Architectural Shingles and Other Asphalt Shingles?

Here, we’ve broken down some core differences between different types of asphalt shingles. Each type of shingle has a fiberglass mat base layer with asphalt coatings on each side. Then, the lead side is coated with ceramic or mineral granules. From traditional asphalt shingles to heavy-duty impact-resistant types, we’ve outlined the key differences here.


Of these options, three-tab shingles are the most cost-effective option and are the most commonly-seen residential roofing material in use today. By contrast, impact-resistant shingles cost nearly double this amount but will greatly enhance the quality of a new roof and are a common option for more high-end homes.

3-tab shingles

  • $1 to $2 per square foot for materials
  • $1,500 to $4,000 for a 1,500 – 2,000 square-foot roof

Architectural shingles

  • $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot for materials
  • $2,250 to $5,000 for a 1,500 – 2,000 square-foot roof

Impact-resistant shingles

  • $2 to $4 per square foot for materials
  • $3,000 to $8,000 for a 1,500 – 2,000 square-foot roof


Each of the following asphalt roofing systems has different lifespans. That said, asphalt shingle roofs max out at around 30 years with proper maintenance.

3-tab shingles

Three-tab shingles last an average of 15 to 20 years.

Architectural shingles

Architectural shingles tend to last between 25 and 30 years in typical conditions.

Impact-resistant shingles

These shingles are far thicker than any other asphalt shingle and require sturdy decking and underlayments for proper roof installation. These can last up to 50 years.

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Ideal Applications

Each asphalt shingle has different tolerances and applications, which homeowners should be aware of before an asphalt roof replacement. Each will require a single layer of material but will be better suited to different climates and housing situations.

3-tab shingles

Asphalt shingles as a whole account for 80% of residential roofs in the U.S. Three-tab shingles are the most common variety of these and are a solid all-weather option for most homes.

Architectural shingles

The textured look of these can improve your home’s curb appeal while offering more protection from the elements. You’ll need a sturdy roof decking to support these shingles, but they’ll provide enhanced protection from rain, snow, and debris over time.

Impact-resistant shingles

Impact-resistant shingles are the sturdiest option and are the right shingles for a range of applications. If you live in an area with frequent hail in the winter and heavy rainfall for the rest of the year, these could be an option for you. Such shingles often come with hefty manufacturer warranties, which could exceed the occupancy period of your home.


Aesthetics and curb appeal are important considerations for any front-facing renovation of your home.

3-tab shingles

All shingled roofs appear to have individual shingles adhered to the surface. Three-tab shingles are sheets of three shingles each, which are typically around 36 inches long by 12 inches wide. Half of the width of each sheet is hidden under the above row of shingles.

Architectural shingles

Architectural shingles are thicker than three-tab asphalt pieces and present a textured look due to their varied thickness.

Impact-resistant shingles

Impact-resistant shingles present a similar appearance to three-tab shingles but are far thicker. These shingles receive ratings between class 1 and class 4, depending on their relative resistance to debris. A class 4 shingle can withstand a two-inch in diameter steel ball being dropped on it from a height of 20 feet multiple times over without breaking.

Qualified workman in uniform work wear using air or pneumatic nail gun and installing asphalt or bitumen shingle on top of the new roof under construction residential building brizmaker/ Getty Images

Final Thoughts on Asphalt Roofing

As with any roofing project, we recommend seeking out professional assistance. Asphalt shingles are far easier to install and conduct maintenance on than other roofing types, like wood shakes or standing seam metal panels. That said, working at heights is still dangerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

For most homeowners, three-tab shingles will suffice. They provide ample coverage from most weather conditions and can last upwards of 20 years with proper care. At least getting a consultation from a roofer should give you more insight into whether architectural shingles are a necessity for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you choose the best color for your roof shingles?

We recommend exploring your options at a local roofing supplier. Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors that outstrips the offerings you’ll find for even wood or metal roofing. From standard pewter to slate gray, to green, hickory, cedar red, and far more, you’ll be able to tailor your home’s look to either stand out or blend into the surrounding landscaping.

Are architectural shingles hail-proof?

Class 4 shingles can withstand rigorous testing to cope with even the most severe hailstorms. The two-inch steel balls dropped on them during these tests exceed conditions you’ll find in the most severe weather patterns.

Are 30-year architectural shingles impact resistant?

Yes. 30-year architectural shingles have varying degrees of resistance from class 1 to class 4. Your local roofing contractor or supply center will have more information for you on which shingles can withstand conditions in your area.

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Construction worker wearing safety harness belt during working on roof structure of building on construction site,Roofer using air or pneumatic nail gun and installing metal roof tile on top new roof.

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