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3205 Madison Avenue • Indianapolis, IN

Cardwell Home Center Explains The Difference between 3-Tab, Architectural, and Dimensional Shingles...

Regular (3-tab) asphalt shingles have three regularly spaced asphalt tabs, giving the roofing material a very repetitive pattern. In contrast, dimensional shingles have two layers of shingle material bonded together, giving them a three-dimensional appearance.


Dimensional roof shingles have changed into many different shapes, colors, sizes, and designs. The term “dimensional” is merely the over-arching category that architectural shingles fall into. Put another way, an architectural shingle is a fancier designed dimensional shingle.

A basic dimensional shingle is slightly more uniform in its pattern of dimensional shapes between the different bundles. In other words, the pattern repeats itself much more often than it does with a fancier architectural shingle. While dimensional shingles have a number of benefits compared to 3-tab shingles, they were created primarily for appearance.  They were originally developed in the '70s in response to luxury homeowners seeking a roofing material that looked like cedar shingles but performed like asphalt.

Architectural shingles because of their more random shape and custom installation are, therefore, slightly more expensive.

Most people at first glance on two houses side by side would not be able to tell the difference between a basic dimensional and architectural style shingle – even putting the two shingles side by side you would still struggle to see the differences.

So the next time someone tries to compare and tell you they are alike, you can be the one who corrects them and tells them the difference between 3-Tab, dimensional, and architectural roof shingles.

Benefits of Dimensional Shingles:

Because of the double bonded layer, dimensional shingles actually offer more protection from wind and hail — with the heaviest grades able to withstand 130 mph winds.

Other benefits include:

  • More attractive - lots of colors and options available giving your roof a unique look.
  • Less likely to warp due to heavier construction.• Better at hiding structural imperfections in the roof.
  • Readily available due to popularity.
  • Works on most roof types and pitches - like regular asphalt shingles, these can be used practically anywhere.
  • Generally accepted as more aesthetically pleasing - so much so that many neighborhoods even require them.

So is cheaper better for 3-Tab Shingles? The answer will depend on how you look at things. Three-tab shingles are cheaper upfront, but over the course of your roof’s lifetime, dimensional/architectural shingles can cost less.

Don't wait to upgrade your home, stop by Cardwell Home Center on Indy's Southside - near Gateway South on Madison Avenue to get a quote on roofing and save!

Cardwell Home Center has more than just shingles!

Roofing Supplies

Roofing Supplies

  • Ridge Vents
  • Drip Edge Flashing
  • Ice & Water Shield
  • OSB
  • Roof Boots
  • Roof Edge


  • Roof Cement
  • Leak Stoppers
  • Underlayment
  • Nail Coils
  • Gutters
  • & So Much More!