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Architectural Shingles versus 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles


The benefits of Architectural Shingles


By Mark J. Donovan


Architectural shingles are considered high end asphalt shingles due to their quality and distinctive textured look. Architectural shingles are also known as three dimensional shingles or laminate shingles.  Architectural shingles were introduced to the home construction market in the 1970’s in the continued effort to produce an asphalt shingle product that had the higher end quality look of slate or cedar wood shake shingles, without the negatives of breakage, insect damage or weight. Today architectural shingles come in a wide variety of colors, styles, and warranties.

Architectural shingles have a unique visual appearance. Instead of a running row pattern that is observed with 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles have a cedar shake texture appearance that give a more dramatic look to a home. Architectural shingles are also excellent for hiding roof imperfections due to their textured look. Many home builders prefer to use them today due to this benefit alone.  In addition, from some builders’ perspectives, architectural shingles are also easier to install then 3-tab shingles.


Architectural shingles are also excellent for more complicated and higher end roof lines, such as hip roofs, or roofs that include turrets and gables.


Architectural Shingle Construction


Architectural shingles are manufactured using a mat base that is heavier than the standard 3-tab asphalt shingle. The mat base is made from either organic materials or fiberglass material coated with asphalt. Colored granules are then added to the top surface. Unlike 3-tab shingles which have a ¼” notched groove every 12 inches, architectural shingles are typically solid across their entire length. Multiple layers are overlapped and laminated together to produce the textured appearance found in architectural shingles.


Architectural shingles come in many colors, textures and patterns. Some architectural shingles are designed to replicate the look of slate shingles or cedar wood shakes, but without the same high cost, heavy weight or susceptibility to insect damage.


Due to the heavier mat base, architectural shingles are heavier than standard 3-tab shingles, thus making them less susceptible to curling and wind damage. Some higher end architectural shingles are rated for winds up to 120mph.


Typically 3-tab shingles weight about 240 lbs per square, where as an architectural shingle square can weigh 100 to 200 lbs more.


Architectural shingles that have heavy coats of granules are also highly fire resistant.


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Algae Resistant Architectural Shingles


When looking for architectural shingles make sure you select ones that are algae resistant. This is particularly important for north facing roofs with light color shingles and in high humidity areas. Early on architectural shingles had a susceptibility to algae and you typically would see black algae streaks running down the roof lines. Fortunately most types today are algae resistant. Most architectural shingles that are manufactured today are coated with zinc or copper granules which help to prevent algae growth.


Architectural Shingle Warranties


Due to their rugged construction, architectural shingles usually have longer life warranties than 3-tab shingles. Architectural shingles typically have warranties of 30 to 40 years where as 3-tab shingles have warranties of 15 to 20 years.


Architectural Shingle Pricing


Because of their higher quality construction and longer warranties, architectural shingles are priced higher than 3-tab shingles. Typically architectural shingles can cost 20-40% more than 3-tab shingles. In addition, though less complicated then 3-tab shingle installation, they are more labor intensive due to the fact that more architectural shingle bundles are required then 3-tab shingles to cover the same square area. As a result, the overall roofing costs are considerably higher using architectural shingles. This said, the benefits associated architectural shingles far outweigh the added installation cost in most circumstances.


For more help on Shingling Your Home's Roof, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet. The Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet will help to ensure that your roof won't end up with a blue tarp over it and a dumpster sitting in your yard for weeks as you wait for the roofing contractor to come back and finish roofing your home.

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- Architectural Shingles versus 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles -

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