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What Are the Three Types of Asphalt Shingles?

What Are the Three Types of Asphalt Shingles?

Next time you walk through your neighborhood, you should look at some of the different roofs in your area. You’ll probably notice that they all have different styles, colors, and textures. Chances are, despite their differences, almost all of them are asphalt roofs.

Featuring a durable asphalt coating that is resistant to moisture, inclement weather, and fire hazards, asphalt shingles are designed to protect your home with minimal maintenance.

Their relative durability and longevity for the cost make them the roofing material of choice for the vast majority of homes throughout North Carolina. However, one of the biggest reasons homeowners tend to choose asphalt shingles is because of their versatility.

There are three major categories of asphalt shingles used for roofing a house: 3-tab, architectural, and luxury. Each type comes with its own unique aesthetic, price point, and lifespan.

In this blog, we’ll be going over:

Alright, let’s get started!


Three types of asphalt shingles

3-Tab (or Strip) Shingles
Three Tab Shingle Roof Better_WebP

Single-layer 3-tab shingles are the original and most basic of the three types. In the right conditions, they’re designed to withstand the elements for about 15 years.

You can identify 3-tab shingles by their relatively simple, consistent appearance.  All of the individual shingles are the same shape, perfectly rectangular, and lay flat next to each other.

They are popular among national builders of new economy homes.

Pros: Since they are made from a single layer, they’re affordable and easy to install. They also have multiple color options available.

Cons: Unfortunately, 3-tab’s lack some of the aesthetic qualities of dimensional and luxury shingles.

Architectural (or Dimensional) Shingles
Architectural Shingle Roof_WebP

Architectural shingles feature two layers of asphalt that are bonded together. These shingles are much more durable than 3-tab and boast a multi-dimensional texture and appearance that can last 25 years or longer.

Architectural shingles are the most popular asphalt shingle, reportedly making up three-quarters of all roofing sales.

Pros: Typically, heavier than strip shingles and have improved warranty protection.  Multi-dimensional appearance to replicate wood shake. The real appeal is they look great as you ride through a neighborhood.

Cons: You’re going to pay somewhere in the range of 25% more than the 3-tab shingle.

Luxury (or Premium) Shingles

grand manor luxury shingles_WebPLuxury Shingles are the highest-quality asphalt shingle available offering a unique appearance that is in a different class than of dimensional shingles. These shingles typically last 30 years, and have an increased wind resistance to the other shingles, as a result of their weight.

They also offer the most realistic representation of old school wood shake and slate roofs. Shakes and slate are expensive to purchase and extremely laborious to install and can cost as much as 10 times that of dimensional.

Pros: Really good looking roofs, presenting the highest quality, coloration, and dimensionality. Maximum durability makes them more affordable than natural slate or cedar.

Cons: Far more expensive than 3-tab and dimensional shingles. Not all roofs can support their weight.

Asphalt Shingle Brands

Now that we’re all on the same page as to what the three main types of shingles are, let’s break down the major asphalt shingle manufacturers, and what their best performing lines are! In alphabetical order, here are the biggest roofing manufacturers in the country!


The second oldest company on this list, CertainTeed was founded in 1904, and currently has its headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. Now a subsidiary of global manufacturing company Saint-Gobain, CertainTeed has continued to produce high quality asphalt roofing materials, and prides itself on the steps it’s taken to become a producer of sustainable roofing and building products.

CertainTeed offers the full range of asphalt shingles, with their three-tab XT 25, and then their Landmark architectural lines, before reaching up to their Grand Manor, Carriage House, Presidential Shake, and Belmont luxury lines. Those Landmark architectural shingles are the company’s most popular line, while the Presidential Shake has the longest lifespan, and the three-tab XT 25 comes in as the cheapest available.


GAF Logo_WebPGAF’s long history dates back to 1886, and operating from its Parsippany New Jersey headquarters, GAF is the biggest name on the roofing market, and one of the dominant drivers of the industry. GAF’s shingle prices start with their Royal Sovereign & Marquis WeatherMax three-tab lines, then moving up to their Timberline architectural line, before capping off with their Slateline, Camelot, Grand Sequoia, and Woodland Luxury lines.

GAF’s most popular shingle is by far the Timberline HDZ, which, according to GAF, is the best-selling asphalt shingle in North America. Their cheapest available is the Royal Sovereign line, and their longest lasting shingle comes down to either the Timberline HDZ, or one of the luxury lines, depending on the conditions you live in.

Owens Corning
Owens Corning Logo_WebP-1

Owens Corning has been around in Toledo, Ohio since 1938, but was originally founded to manufacture fiberglass insulation. The company became associated with the iconic Pink Panther through the promotion of their pink insulation, but he has stayed on through the years and began to be used for their roofing products as well.

The company offers the Supreme three-tab line, the Oakridge and Duration architectural shingles, and the Berkshire Slate luxury shingle design. Their best performing shingle is the Duration FLEX shingle, the cheapest shingle that Owens Corning offers is the Supreme three-tab shingle, and their most popular line is the standard Duration architectural line.

Ready to Choose Your Shingles?

With a durable design that comes in a wide variety of styles and price points, it is no wonder that homeowners throughout North Carolina consistently choose asphalt shingles for their homes.

They aren’t the only material out there, however. Metal roofs have been used for generations, especially in rural or coastal markets, where severe weather is much more frequent and severe. If you’d like to learn more about how metal roofs compare to the asphalt shingle roofs we’ve detailed above, check out our blog on how the two stack up!

On Tops Roofing has been helping homeowners in the Raleigh, NC area make decisions about their roofs since 1991! Whatever your roofing project requires, We’re on it!

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