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Architectural Shingles vs 3-Tab Shingles

Two of the most common roofing materials are traditional 3-tab shingles and now, architectural shingles, also known as laminate or dimensional shingles. Both have their pros and cons, but the differences are not really hard to understand. Let’s take a look at what makes them different and how they will affect your specific roofing needs.

Architectural Shingles Calgary

3-Tab Shingles

3-tab shingles are probably the type of roofing shingle that most people are familiar with. They were used almost exclusively for residential roof covering for many years and are still widely used today. It’s what you might call a “tried and true” shingle design.

3-Tab Shingles

This type of shingle is made from a 3 foot wide by 1 foot tall slab. Two slots are cut about halfway into one of the longer sides to create 3 tabs. The result gives you three tabs on one edge, each about five to six inches tall, and twelve inches wide.

When these are installed, the shingles are overlapped and nailed in place so that only the tabs are exposed. When the roof is finished, the tabs are actually the only part of the shingles left visible. Many people make the mistake of thinking that each tab is an individual shingle, but in reality, each tab you see is only a third of the full shingle. This type of roofing is usually all of one colour, with a very limit pattern and design options.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles, sometimes referred to as laminate or dimensional shingles, are similar to the 3-tab design, but with some enhancements meant to make them both stronger and more visually appealing.

Laminated Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles have an extra layer on the half where the tabs are cut. This gives each tab much greater thickness than what you’d see on a regular 3-tab shingle. In addition to the extra layer, the tabs on the architectural shingles are usually cut in an irregular pattern.

When architectural shingles are installed, the combination of randomly sized and spaced tabs with the extra thickness creates not only a sense of depth, but a unique visual pattern. Some roofs are even put together with multiple colours for added design aesthetics. No two roofing jobs will come out looking the same when using laminated shingles.

Which Is Right For You?

The ultimate decision on which of these shingles will be right for you is going to depend on your budget and the visual outcome that you are looking for.


In general, architectural shingles will perform better and last longer because of the extra materials involved in making them. This, of course, also makes them more expensive than conventional 3-tab shingles. Although, prices are becoming more competitive every year. 


Warranty coverage varies by manufacturer, but architectural shingles usually have a longer (or even lifetime) warranty. They are also rated much higher for wind resistance, which can come in handy in one of Calgary's summer storms. 


As mentioned above, 3-tab shingles are a tried and true design. Most older homes will still have these shingles. 3-tab shingles are generally the least expensive, however, architectural shingles have become increasingly competitive on price. With the improved durability and design styling of architectural shingles, it is generally better value to spend a little more to get a much better shingle.

Also, keep in mind that 3-tab shingles have also improved in quality a lot over the years. For instance, Malarkey has a new line 3-tab shingles that are more durable and stain resistant. 

With all the roofing options available now, you are sure to select shingles that will be the perfect compliment to your home at whatever your budget. 

Have Some Questions?

For a no-obligation consultation on your roofing needs, give Tony William a call at 403-454-1366. Our professional roofing advisors will be happy to offer a no-charge inspection of your roof and clearly explain all your roofing options.  Feel free to contact us any time and we’ll be happy to help!

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2018 marks a special year for our team at Tony William Roofing & Exteriors. It's our 10th year providing the good people of Calgary the best in designer exterior renovations. Thank you Calgary! We're looking forward to the next 10 years in this wonderful city!


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