The 3 Major Types of Asphalt Shingles Explained

Asphalt shingles consistently remain to be one of the most prominent materials for residential and commercial roofing projects. They’re cheap, durable, compatible with most projects, and require less upkeep and roof repair than other materials. You can drive through the suburbs of North America and see asphalt shingles on most of the roofs. Asphalt shingles come in three major types: 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury shingle. Read on below to learn more about each type in-depth so you can make the right choice for your roofing needs.

3-Tab Shingles:

3-tab shingles are called as such because each shingle is composed of 3 tabs. The width of each tab usually measures out to 12 inches. These durable shingle types are typically guaranteed for as short as 20 years up to 30 years. 3-tabs are designed to transport water directly to the underlying shingle, effectively shedding the water as far from your house as possible. 


  • Some call these quality shingles “starter shingles” since they’re the most inexpensive out of the three major types
  • There are plenty of colors you can choose from, giving you the flexibility to mix and match your home’s color palette.


  • 3-tabs are relatively not as durable and thick as the other types, requiring more upkeep
  • Some might not prefer the 3-tab’s flat appearance

Dimensional Shingles: 

Dimensional shingles are also known as architectural or laminate shingles. Dimensional shingles are designed to create a random or multi-dimensional appearance by installing them with the bottom part exposed. These shingles usually have a warranty good for 30 years or a limited lifetime warranty in some cases. Another plus for this shingle type is that you can customize it in a wide variety of patterns or colors to your liking. : 


  • Dimensional shingles are made of asphalt and fiberglass, adding more security to your roof.
  • Use a much higher quality of asphalt compared to 3-tab shingles, making them more resistant to damage.
  • Come with a wide variety of color gradients.


  • It costs more than 3-tabs
  • Heavier than 3-tabs so it might not be appropriate for less stable structures

Luxury shingles: 

Luxury shingles are considered the premium type of asphalt shingles and are designed to last longer than the other types, with some lasting upwards of 30 to 50 years. This also translates into minimal asphalt roof repair and upkeep, saving you headaches in the future. The appearance of luxury shingles typically emulates natural slate or cedar shake, giving your roof a distinguished and high-caliber look for a lower cost. 


  • You can make your roof look like it’s made of natural slate or cedar shake for a fraction of the budget and maintenance requirements of the actual material
  • Most durable asphalt shingle on the list


  • Highly expensive relative to the other asphalt shingles.
  • Require plenty of installation expertise and require higher stability from a structure


There’s plenty to think about when it comes to your roofing needs. Luckily, you have the experts to do the hard work for you from installation to choosing what fits your needs best. While the 3-tabs might seem to be the most cost-effective, you might be saving yourself the hassle of frequent repairs by going with dimensional or luxury asphalt shingles.

You can call on Cardinal Roofing, one of the best asphalt roofing services in Birmingham and Middle Tennessee, to service all your roofing needs today!