Architectural shingles are a premium grade of asphalt shingle roofing. The shingles are thicker and have a distinctive, textured appearance. They are sometimes called dimensional or laminate shingles, and were introduced in the 1970s in an effort by manufacturers to create a higher-end product.
Regular roof shingles are called “3-tab” in the trade, for the 3 tab/flaps with quarter-inch grooves between them in each panel. They run in flat, even rows as opposed to the textured and layered look of architectural shingles.
Regular shingles have an average 15 to 20-year life. An architectural shingle roof has a 24 to 30-year life, with some super-premium grades rated for up to a 40-year lifespan. And architectural shingles come in wider variety of colors, subtly variegated color patterns, have greater resistance to uplift in a windstorm, and have a heavier granule covering.
All of this comes at a premium price, of course. Typically, an architectural shingle roof will cost about 25% more. But you are rewarded for the extra investment with a 50% longer lifespan and a better looking roof.
Architectural shingles start with a heavier mat base, typically fiberglass that has been coated with asphalt. Multiple layers are then overlapped and laminated together to create the distinctive texture. The finished product weighs about 100-lbs. more per “square” (a roofer’s term for 100 square feet of roof area) than regular shingles. Builders also like them because minor imperfections in the roof deck are concealed by the texture.
If you currently have a regular shingle roof, most realtors we know recommend upgrading to architectural shingles when it’s time for a roof replacement, because of the all-important curb-appeal boost it gives an older home.