Architectural Shingles – Is This the Makeover Your Roof Needs?

Before You Begin: Check out our in-depth article comparing asphalt shingles to metal roofing or aspahlt shingles to 3-tab shingles if you haven't determined whether you want to go metal or asphalt or 3-tab. 

Many homeowners find themselves lost when it comes to picking the right type of shingles for their home. At one time, the choice was much simpler than in today's market.

Now, you have to decide if you want to stick with metal roof shingles or the traditional look of 3-tab shingles or give your home a complete makeup using architectural shingles - the purpose of this article.

Keep reading to learn all about architectural shingles and if this style is right for you.

What are Architectural Roof Shingles?

Architectural roof shingles are different from your standard 3-tab shingle, which you'll see on most homes around the country. Architectural shingles are more durable and give your roof a unique aesthetic. But you'll pay for this double to triple what you'd spend on basic strip shingles. 

Why is the cost of architectural shingles higher?

Architectural shingles - sometimes referred to as dimensional or laminated roofing shingles - consist of a fiberglass mat center coated with asphalt mixed with ceramic coated granules to give the shingle color. 

All architectural shingles consist of multiple layers laminated together for thicker construction, durability, and longevity. The title "architectural" refers to this type of shingle's design, which has unique cuts, dimensional thickness, and contour that make it stand out. 

This style of shingles has a heavier weight, which allows them to stand up better to severe weather conditions. However, this factor is crucial to consider before installing on your roof. If there are structural integrity problems or damaged wood, the extra weight can cause too much strain on your roof, leading to damage.

Styles of Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are often designed to look like natural elements, such as cedarwood shakes or natural slate, which usually come in limited colors. 

Manufacturers also offer architectural shingles in a wide range of colors to allow you to match any home color palette. 

Most people call architectural shingles high definition due to the contour and depth of the shingle profile. The shingle cut can also vary from a straight edge (similar to 3-tab) or angled cuts to give your roof a better dimension. 

Wood Shake Architectural Shingles

All major brands of shingles have at least one architectural line designed to mimic the look of cedar wood shakes. The real thing is wildly expensive and not suitable for all homes. 

Wood Shake Architectural Shingles

This shingle style has an extra thickness and random slots to give the shingle dimension, so it looks like natural wood. You only have limited color choices to preserve the mimicked wood design. Standard colors for these styles include light and dark shades of gray and black or reddish or earthy browns.

Slate Architectural Shingles

All major brands also offer architectural shingles that resemble the look of slate - a natural stone that's heavy and expensive to use for roofing. 

Slate Architectural Shingles

This style of shingles usually has limited colors of light to dark gray to match the mimicked material. The random texture and color mimic slate and look fantastic for roofs with steep pitches, gables, or turrets. 

Architectural Shingles Price Range

Architectural shingle prices vary by manufacturer, class, and features. 

Compared to 3-tab shingles, dimensional shingles are higher. However, as the performance section below will show, the money spent is well worth it. 

Although it varies, you can expect to spend on average between $1.00 to $1.50 a square foot (12' x 12') or $100 to $150 a roofing square (100 square feet)

If you're using a professional roofer, you'll also pay for labor costs. Architectural shingles installed by a professional can range from $3.20-$3.40 a square foot for materials and labor or $320 to $340 a square.

The total costs can range from $13,500 up to $21,500 or higher, depending on brand and design.

It's essential to pay attention to how the seller prices their shingles. Some may charge by the square, while others may charge by the bundle. All asphalt shingles come in bundles, which is a stack of shingles. It takes three bundles to make one square (100 square feet). 

Pro Tip: Try a roofing calculator to get an estimate on the price for your location and house size. This one from Fixr works great and gives a breakdown of the costs. Or try the one from Roofing Calculator.

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Pro Tip: If your roof is cut up due to dormers, chimneys, skylights, or other protrusions, you'll need to factor in an additional $200 to $500 for extra materials for these tricky areas. Valleys can cost an additional $15-$20 a linear foot of length.

Architectural Shingle Performance

Since architectural shingles are higher than 3-tab, you may have concerns about the higher upfront costs. Below are some performance reasons why architectural shingles are worth the price.


Due to the construction of architectural shingles, which have many layers fused, they are more durable and last longer than 3-tab shingles.

You can expect to get warranty coverage for architectural shingles from 25 to 50 years. The warranty will vary by company and by package. The lifespan of asphalt shingles can be 30 to 50 years or longer.

This shingle style also does better against the elements - rain, snow, or high winds (120 mph or more), making it suitable for locations throughout North America, no matter the climate. Whether you face heavy ice storms or frequent hurricanes, architectural shingles will outperform basic strip shingles.

Asphalt shingles are resistant to breaks, cracks, sun damage, fading, and staining. Many models also have built-in protection against algae damage and mold. 


While you will pay more for architectural shingles than 3-tab, you'll get your money's worth in performance and durability (6% ROI). You won't have to replace your roof as quickly as you would asphalt shingles (but faster than using a metal roof). 

Architectural shingles will also boost your curb appeal more than strip shingles. Friends, family, and neighbors are sure to notice the difference in materials from their homes (and possibly be jealous). 

If you have plans to sell your home, a new roof is a super investment. A new roof can add value to your home and allow you to recoup the money you spent on installing the room. Architectural shingles sell better than 3-tab. Due to the high cost of designer shingles, you'd lose money because the new roof wouldn't add enough value to your home to cover the installation.

Homebuyers prefer to buy houses where they can spend their money on customizing a home to their tastes - not making major expensive repairs like replacing a roof. The age of your roof can affect the speed and profit of selling your house - the best time frame is before ten years. 


As we showed in our section on styles, architectural shingles give you plenty of versatility in style. These shingles are a great way to get a natural material-looking roof for homeowners who can't afford a slate or wood shake roof or if your roof can't support these heavy materials. 

And they also come in a wide range of colors, giving your roof dimension by playing off the natural shadows of the textured layers. Standard colors offered by most brands include:













In Closing

There are many reasons why architectural asphalt shingles are becoming a more popular choice for homeowners looking for a new roof. Besides excellent performance and long lifespan, there's also a wide range of colors, styles, and features to give you the best protection and aesthetic. 

Before You Go: Want to know more about the most popular lines of architectural shingles, including costs, product lines, and their downsides? Check out our reviews on CertainTeed, Tamko, GAF, Owens Corning, and Atlas.

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