The Ultimate Guide To 3 Tab Shingles

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The Ultimate Guide To 3 Tab Shingles

The Ultimate Guide To 3 Tab Shingles

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Asphalt shingles have been able to withstand the test of time.

Homeowners looking for a cost-effective, simple, and affordable roof shingle will find asphalt to be a popular choice.

But are 3-Tab shingles the only cost-effective solution for your home? Does the price you pay today give you maximum return value 10, 15, or 20 years down the line?

3-Tab Shingles: A Closer Look

75% of homes in the U.S. have asphalt shingle roofing

New roof installations and even roof replacements will almost always end in choosing asphalt roof shingles.

For homeowners looking for rooftop shingles that provide decent weather protection and a variety of color options, one can say that asphalt shingles don’t disappoint.

Now, let’s get a little technical. What are 3-Tab shingles made of?

3-Tab shingles are composed of a durable fiberglass basemat that’s coated with mineral granules.

Apart from the varying color tones a 3-Tab shingle offers, it’s also lightweight and can withstand wind uplifts between 60 to 70 mph.

When installed on your roof, 3-Tab’s appear as three separate pieces; however, it’s only just one. This design is appealing enough to provide a clean, polished look for your roof.

Being the most basic and economical roofing shingle there is, 3-Tab asphalt shingles typically have a warranty that can last up to 25 years maximum.

Below are a few of our favorite 3 tab manufacturers.


Owens Corning


The price per bundle ranges between $25 to $35, so you’re looking at an average cost of $75 to $105 per sq. ft.

We can’t argue that 3-Tab asphalt shingles definitely provide an appealing price offer.

Now that we understand what 3-Tab asphalt shingles are, let’s look at its risks and benefits.

Benefits of 3-Tab Shingles


3-Tab’s are one of the most lightweight roofing materials there are.

That means it’s easy to install, and considering that they’re a popular option for many decades, roofing contractors have the means, resources, and experience to handle the installation process.

Even better, lightweight roofs shingles don’t carry the same issues as concrete, tile, or clay roofing.

Although these types are highly durable and provide great weather resistance, they can put a lot of strain on your roof deck if you aren’t careful when installing them.

Installing a lightweight shingle means virtually a hassle-free installation and, thus, lesser costs too.


3-Tab asphalt shingles are by far one of the cheapest roofing materials there are. You can’t compete with the price of 3-Tab’s.

This is what makes it so popular among homeowners. Cheap material cost and cheap labor and installation costs make it perfect for homeowners looking for a budget option.

After all, installing a roof is one of the most expensive investments you’ll shell out for your home. Even for replacement costs, three-tab shingles are still a cost-effective option.


Three-tab shingles are versatile in the sense they’re easy to install and are ideal for homeowners looking for economical installations and costs.

They also come with a decent range of varying color options and are aesthetically pleasing for any home.

The versatility, however, is only limited to mostly the ease of installation. Still, as for shape design and varying sizes, three-tab shingles don’t have much flexibility if you’re looking for designs that follow a dimensional pattern or look.

Uniform Design

Having a simple, uniform design does have its perks.

A simple layout doesn’t necessarily make one’s roof boring to look at, but it makes the roof look clean and has minimalist appeal.

Since roof investments are especially costly, it’s understandable that opting for a simple, clean, and finished look would benefit many homeowners.

Risks of 3-Tab Shingles

Short Life Span

The average lifespan of a three-tab shingle will last between 18 to 20 years, as it says in the manufacturer label.

When you account for weather conditions, high wind-zones, snow, hail, and falling tree branches, this can easily diminish the life expectancy to around 7 to 10 years.

Constant exposure to harsh weather conditions will also mean more maintenance costs, in the long run, leaving you to spend every 2 years or so just to keep it sustainable.

Prone to Blow-Off

One of the major drawbacks of using three-tab shingles is their thin frame.

This means it’s more vulnerable to wind uplifts, and with poor maintenance, they could easily become loose and blow-off your roof during a harsh storm or strong wind.

Remember that a three-tab shingle is capable of withstanding winds between 60 to 70 mph only. High-wind zones go higher than 60 to 70 mph, so if you live in a high-wind zone area, take extra precaution.

Is 3-Tab The Right Choice?

If you live in an area with fair weather that doesn’t have constant exposure to harsh weather conditions and strong winds, three-tab shingles make for a great option.

If you don’t mind regularly spending on maintenance costs and prefer to budget your roof installation costs, three-tab suits you.

Three-tab is fairly durable and can withstand most weather conditions, but it can also be risky to have if you live in a tornado-prone area.

Before choosing three-tab, consider all the factors that come into play and what can potentially damage your roof long-term.

Just in case, here’s an alternative shingle material you can go for.

Alternative Asphalt Roofing Material

Enter architectural shingles – an improved form of three tabs.

Architectural shingles may not have been around as long as three-tab shingles, but they carry more durability and weather resistance.

Architectural shingles can also withstand winds between 80 to 120 mph, making them suited for high-wind zone areas.

Unlike three-tab shingles, architectural shingles offer slightly more variety of design shapes and sizes, which gives it its dimensional premium look.

The life expectancy of architectural shingles is also much higher. Manufacturer warranties for architectural shingles could go as high as lifetime, although the average warranty falls between 20 to 50 years.

Some manufacturers also tweak the design of architectural shingles, providing enhanced waterproofing capabilities to prevent water leaks and damage.

There are a few downsides, though. Architectural shingles weigh at least 50% more, which means using this type of shingle will mean inspecting your roof deck thoroughly.

Does this mean that installing an architectural shingle is much harder?

We wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but it does require more experience to install architectural shingles due to their increased weight and varied design.

Another drawback is the price of architectural shingles. You’ll most likely pay 20% to 40% more upfront.

The average cost of an architectural shingle ranges between $35 to $45, so you’ll be looking at $140 to $180 per sq. ft. of architectural shingles.

Now here’s the thing. An architectural shingle may be more expensive, but because you have less replacement and maintenance costs long-term, you pay less than three-tabs.

Final Thoughts

Asphalt roofs are undoubtedly a popular demand, especially for first-timer homeowners.

This makes three-tabs one of the most well-sought roofing materials. For safety purposes, we prefer architectural over three-tabs because you get a higher return value, improved durability, and better roofing performance.

If you prefer more aesthetic options with varying color options, architectural shingles meet this standard well. Three-tabs don’t offer as many color options, but will still provide a polished look.

Overall, we recommend choosing the material that will make your roof last longer and spend less long-term.

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