4 min read

What Are Architectural Shingles?

What Are Architectural Shingles?

If you’re driving around, looking at roofs, thinking to yourself: “Man, why do those roofs look so textured and nice!”  

You’re not alone! I do that exact thing pretty much every day. 

But what exactly are you looking at when looking at the roofs in your neighborhood? There’s a good chance that you’re seeing some architectural shingles out there, as they’ve become the most common roofing material used in North America. 

In this blog, we’re going to tell you all about architectural shingles, including how long the last, how much they cost, and how they compare to the other asphalt shingles on the market! 

Let’s get started!


What are Architectural Shingles?

architectural shingle roof_WebP

Architectural shingles are pretty much the most common roofing material that you’ll see across North Carolina, the United States, and the rest of North America. They’re constructed the same way as other asphalt shingles, starting as a fiberglass mat sandwiched between layers of asphalt, with a mix of protective granules added onto the top, and an asphalt sealant put on the bottom. 

asphalt shingle diagram_WebP

However, what makes architectural shingles different from others is their two-ply design, which means that they have an additional layer of shingle bonded together to increase the material’s durability, and a sawtooth layer that gives a more dimensional appearance. Though it adds a nice layer of texture to the look of the shingle, its purpose is to increase its durability far more than a three-tab shingle. We’ll talk all about how those compare in the later sections of this blog. 

Every major roofing manufacturer has a line of architectural shingles on offer these days. GAF has their Timberline collection, offering the most popular Timberline HDZ shingles, as well as Timberline UHD for a more defined look, as well as several specialty lines, like the Timberline RS shingle for cool roofs. CertainTeed’s primary architectural shingle line is their Landmark series, with Landmark Pro as the most popular of that line, and Landmark Premium as a higher end option. 

How long do Architectural Shingles last?

As far as roofing materials go, Architectural shingles have a pretty solid average lifespan, usually going between 25 and 30 years. Because they have the two-ply design, the shingle is one solid piece. That is a big improvement over the three-tab design, which leaves gaps between the shingle tabs. Architectural shingles also tend to receive much less wind damage because of this design. With the sealant on the upper part of the shingle, the total roofing system bonds together to form one solid shield, that’s very difficult for water to get through, and for wind to blow up under.

GAF Timberline HDZ_WebP

Compared to a three-tab shingle, which typically only lasts 15 to 20 years, that’s a pretty significant increase if you’re looking for a roof that you won’t have to replace any time soon. Luxury shingles, though they carry a higher price tag, will get up to around 30 years of age as well, but can last longer depending on the conditions, and will likely not have as many repairs due to their heavier weight. 

How much do Architectural Shingles cost? 

For a new roof, asphalt shingles as a whole are going to be the most affordable option, which is a big part of what makes them the most popular roofing material in the country. To know a little bit more about the costs associated with architectural shingles, you need to know how roofers talk about roof measurements. Asphalt shingle roofs are measured in “roofing squares” which is a short-hand way to say 100 square feet. If you want to learn more about roof measurements, check out this blog on How To Measure Your Own Roof. 

On the shingle price spectrum, architectural shingles fall on the lower end, but still in the middle. At the time of writing this in 2022, the architectural shingles that we most often use sit around $105 per square. We’ll go into the comparisons in more detail shortly, but for some context, three-tab shingles typically cost around $90 per square, and luxury shingles can be as high as $180 per square. 

Architectural Shingles vs 3 Tab Shingles

Architectural Shingle Roof_WebP
Three-tab Shingle Roof_WebP








If you’re comparing shingles, the most important things to consider are the price, the durability, and the appearance! 

As far as the price goes, you definitely won’t find one lower than a three-tab shingle. These shingles run at about $90 per roof square, making them the least expensive roofing material on the market. Architectural shingles end up costing a little bit more, coming in at around $105 per square these days. 

However, that price difference ends up being more than made up for in the durability, and longevity difference between the two shingles. Most three-tab shingle roofs will last 15 years, or 20 at best, but many homeowners start seeing issues with the roof after that decade mark. Architectural shingles, on the other hand, should be in good shape well into their second decade of life, usually requiring a replacement around 25 years, or 30 years if they are in ideal weather conditions. 

The appearance category is a bit more subjective, but let’s be real, three-tab shingles are just not as good looking as architectural shingles. A three-tab roof has a flat, blocky look that is very uniform. While architectural roofs are much more popular recently, and won’t necessarily make you stand out from your neighbors, the dimensions that they have, and the texture added to your home, is much more visually pleasing than what a three-tab roof offers. 

Architectural Shingles vs Luxury Shingles

Architectural Shingles Roof_WebPLuxury asphalt Shingles_WebP

When you’re talking about the differences between an architectural shingle roof and a luxury shingle roof, the biggest difference is going to be the price. Like we mentioned earlier, architectural shingles will cost you around $105 per roof square, and are on the lower-middle range of the shingle price spectrum. On the complete opposite end, you’ll find most luxury shingles, with a price tag of around $180 per roof square. 

As for durability, luxury shingles will get the slight edge here, as they should get to be around 30 years old, potentially more in good conditions, while architectural shingles have 25-30 year lifespan. Luxury shingles are also a bit less susceptible to wind damage, as their heaver weight will prevent them from blowing up and off from extremely high-speed winds that may damage architectural shingles. 

As for the looks, luxury shingles come in all different shapes, colors, and textures, so if you really want to stand out from your neighbors, this is the kind of shingle that you want. Most manufacturers make shingles that simulate the look of wood, slate, or even ceramic shingles 

Want to talk about your roof with On Tops?

If you’re intrigued by the idea of getting architectural shingles on your roof, reach out to us at On Tops Roofing! 

We’ve got more than 30 years installing architectural shingles, and other roofing materials, in the Raleigh area, so whatever your roofing project will require, we’re happy to help! Just click the “Contact Us” button below, fill out the form on that page, and we’ll get you in touch with our representative for your area! 

Contact Us

The 5 Best Roofing Companies in Fayetteville, NC for 2024

The 5 Best Roofing Companies in Fayetteville, NC for 2024

How do you find the best roofers? Ask an experienced roofing contractor who knows all the other roofing contractors in Fayetteville NC!

Read More
Benefits of a Project Manager for Your Roof Replacement

Benefits of a Project Manager for Your Roof Replacement

A roof replacement is a substantial undertaking, and the key to a successful project often lies in the hands of the project manager. This individual...

Read More
Signs Your Roof Has Storm Damage

Signs Your Roof Has Storm Damage

If you’ve recently experienced a storm, you should probably take some time to investigate your roof for signs of damage left by that storm.

Read More