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
From uniform to textured, asphalt shingles offer a range of appearance options and applications.
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 (find out the lifespan of different roofing systems). 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.

    The hail damage within the chalk outline can be mitigated by purchasing impact-resistant or architectural shingles for your home.

    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.

    Related: Using Asphalt Shingles on a Low Slope Roof


    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 (check out our article to discover the various types of roof shingles).

    Architectural shingles

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

    If you are interested in architectural shingles, we recommend Champion Roofing as one of our preferred brands.

    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.

    Working with any roofing material presents a number of risks due to the height you’ll be working at. Be sure to take the proper precautions beforehand to ensure your own safety.
    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

    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.

    Editorial Contributors
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    Sean Donnelly

    Staff Writer

    Sean Donnelly works to inform, engage, and motivate homeowners to take the reigns in making key decisions concerning homeownership and relocation. He is a content producer covering provider reviews, the homeownership and rental experience, real estate, and all things moving for Today’s Homeowner. Sean leverages his own experience within the moving industry to improve the consumer experience. He studied English literature and creative writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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    Lora Novak

    Senior Editor

    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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