close up of architectural shingles

Architectural Shingles: Complete Guide for 2023

Bondoc Team

Posted By: Bondoc Team

Posted Date


Architectural shingles are specifically designed to pique architectural interest. In a sense, they mimic wood shake or slate roofing as they don’t lie flat like traditional asphalt shingles. However, they are not wood or slate — but they are aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective.

But what exactly are they, and how do they differ from regular old asphalt shingles? Keep reading to find all of that out and more.

What Are Architectural Shingles?

Architectural shingles go by quite a few names:

  • Dimensional shingles
  • Laminated shingles
  • Composite shingles

They also fit into the asphalt shingle category, despite being anything but plain. Architectural roofing shingles are typically made from high-quality materials such as heavy fiberglass for the mat base and ceramic-coated mineral granules that are tightly embedded in a cautiously refined water-resistant asphalt. This kind of makes them the “golden child” of shingles as they’re often what homeowners choose to replace their old asphalt roofing systems with. 

Architectural shingles are typically made up of two layers of the above materials. The materials are laminated together to develop a more contoured appearance.

How Do They Differ From 3-Tab Shingles?

three tab shingles on residential roof

3-Tab shingles are your “regular” type of shingles. They get their name from their dimensions, as they’re made from asphalt shingles that have three regularly spaced asphalt tabs. This is what gives the traditional shingle style its flat, repetitive patterns.

Architectural shingles, on the hand, are thicker and offer more of a dimensional look — hence the reason why they’re sometimes referred to as dimensional shingles. Here is how dimensional shingles differ:

  • Their dimensional look is created through the layering of the shingle on top of one another during the manufacturing process.
  • They have an asphalt base that’s coated with a layer of adhesive. The adhesive is later colored using mineral granules.
  • A second layer of adhesive is applied, which is followed by a secondary layer of granules. This process is repeated a few more times until the desired thickness and size for the shingle are achieved.

Despite all the layering, architectural shingles are engineered to be more lightweight than their traditional counterparts. This also helps to make them more affordable while giving off the appearance of expensive roofing materials such as slate tiles or cedar shakes. They’re also much more durable than regular shingles as they can last up to 30 years or more with regular care and maintenance.

How Much Do Architectural Shingles Cost?

The cost of architectural shingles differs from home to home. There are several factors involved, including the quality of the shingles, the size of your roof, the location, and so on. 

The average cost of architectural shingles ranges from $100 to $200 per square — and each “square” encompasses 100 square feet of installation. While this may sound expensive, it’s important to keep in mind that architectural shingles are meant to be a long-term investment as they outlast your basic roofing systems.

What’s more, architectural shingles are still more affordable compared to metal roofing, clay tiles, and slate tiles while still mimicking the aesthetics. Cost-wise, you can think of them as a happy medium between the cheap stuff and the expensive stuff.

The Pros and Cons of Architectural Shingles

Knowing the basics isn’t enough to determine whether or not architectural shingles are right for your home. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons to help you decide:

The Pros ✅

  • Better curb appeal: Since architectural shingles have a more dimensional look, they easily elevate the appearance of your home without a premium price tag.
  • They offer more protection: Asphalt shingles are reasonably durable, but architectural shingles kick that protection up a notch. This is thanks to the multiple layers they’re constructed with, which make them more resistant to wind damage and other weather-related events.
  • They’re easy to install: These types of shingles are much easier to install compared to other types of roofing materials. This makes the entire installation process much quicker and less costly.
  • They come in a wide range of colors: Architectural shingles come in a nice, large variety of colors and styles, which gives homeowners plenty of flexibility in choosing the perfect look for their home.
  • They’re considerably lightweight: These types of shingles are much lighter than most of the other roofing materials out there. This makes them a lot easier to work with and less likely to cause structural damage to your home.
asphalt shingles with shake design on roof

The Cons ❌

  • They’re not right for all climates: In certain areas where consistently severe weather conditions (high winds, hail, etc), architectural shingles may not offer enough protection to your home. In this case, it’s best to speak with a professional roofer to learn more about the extent of protection you can expect from this type of shingle.
  • They’re not as durable as other materials: While these types of shingles are highly durable, they don’t offer the same level of protection as metal or slate tiles. Then again, no other roofing material really does.
  • They’re on the expensive side: The cost of architectural shingles is significantly more expensive than traditional asphalt shingles. However, you’ll need to take into consideration what you’ll be saving long-term and where they are on the scale of affordability compared to other materials.
  • They’re not as eco-friendly: Being a long-lasting material, architectural shingles are considerably green. However, they’re still made with asphalt which is a petroleum-based product, which makes them a little less eco-friendly compared to their metal and slate counterparts.

Are Architectural Shingles Right for Your Home?

Architectural shingles are associated with a lot of excellent benefits for homeowners. Namely, they can last well over 30 years with proper care and maintenance. They’re also the more affordable option compared to clay, slate, and metal roofing systems.

Not sure if architectural shingles are right for your home or budget? Get in touch with the roofing experts at Bondoc Roofing today. We’ll help you decide what type of roofing materials are best for your home and budget, and we’ll provide you with a free roof inspection and estimate!

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