Since buying a home is one of the biggest investments people typically make, it is vital to protect that investment over time. The roof of a house is arguably the most critical structure as it protects you and everything inside the home. While it is essential to consider the climate you live in, your home’s architecture, and your budget when determining which roofing system you should choose, Asphalt shingles tend to be the most popular roofing structure for homeowners.
Asphalt shingles currently play a significant role in the roofing market due to their low costs and easy installation. These shingles are most commonly manufactured in two different ways: the architectural shingle and the 3-Tab shingle.
What Are Architectural Shingles? What Are 3-Tab Shingles? Which Is Best?
Architectural shingles are 3D dimensional asphalt shingles. The most common type of architectural shingle is the laminate shingle. These types of shingles are made of two separate pieces that have been bonded together by the manufacturer. There is a variety of styles of laminate shingles ranging from the most common architectural shingle all the way to the higher end 3-layer laminated designer shingles.
3-Tab shingles are 2D, flat, asphalt shingles that are one layer thick and have three cutouts in the shingle area that homeowners can see. This area is referred to as the exposure of the shingle. It is purposely designed to look like 3 separate tabs even though it is actually a single shingle. Depending on the color and brand, 3-Tab shingles may have a slightly dimensional look. This dimensional look is created through color variations in the granules rather than through the actual layers of dimension.
Architectural shingles are the best option between the two as the shingle’s added protection and life often outweigh the cost difference.
Below are some reasons why homeowners typically prefer architectural shingles:
- Architectural shingles have a higher wind rating. While 3-Tab shingles only have a wind rating of 60 MPH, architectural, dimensional, and laminated shingles carry a wind rating of 110 MPH. In some cases, when installed following manufacturer specifications, they can even have an increased wind rating of 130 MPH. The higher the wind rating, the less likely they are to need costly repairs in the future.
- Architectural shingles are heavier. Traditionally, architectural shingles are composed of a heavy fiberglass mat base with ceramic-coted mineral granules that are tightly embedded in carefully refined, water-resistant asphalt. Some brands even include a layer of copper under the ceramic coating of the granule to aid in reducing algae growth on your roof.
- Architectural shingles are more aesthetically pleasing due to their layered appearance on the roof. Most homeowners find that architectural shingles are more visually appealing and add more curb appeal than the 3-Tab shingle. For more curb appeal, you can also always paint them later on.
- Architectural shingles have better overall longevity. These shingles are designed to last longer over the roof’s lifespan. This reduces the frequency of needing a roof replacement. Just don't forget to add a roof sealant and use a heating cable for protection during the winter.
Can You Install Architectural Shingles Over 3-Tab Shingles?
The short answer is yes, you can technically install architectural shingles over a 3-Tab shingle roof. It is essential to review your building code and manufacturer installation for more guidance on what is referred to as a “roof over.” Typically some companies do not install shingles over one another. Although it’s done for various reasons, it’s not always recommended, and you should avoid doing it if possible.
Re-roofing vs Roof Replacement
Usually, you tear off the old roof and any felt or underlayment beneath the shingles all the way down to the decking. This allows you to inspect the decking for rotting areas or problem spots before installing a new roof. To provide a strong foundation for the roofing system, you should inspect all of the roof deckings and replace any soft or damaged areas due to water penetration and rot.
Although it may seem like installing architectural shingles on top of 3-Tab shingles would cost less than tearing the old roof down to the decking, it is necessary to avoid any future costs and consequences that may come later if the damaged decking goes unchecked. Overall, you would only save between $500-$750 on the average roof by not removing the old shingles. You are not saving any money on the removal labor as you would still have to prepare the 3-Tab shingles to be laid over.
Generally, the only costs you would save by doing a “roof over” are dumping fees (disposing of the old roof) and the labor fees to tear off the old roof. The amount saved by a “roof over” does not outweigh the peace of mind that comes along with removing the entire old roofing system. Having multiple roof layers makes a leak harder to find, adds to the cost of repairs, and increases your rafters’ weight load. In the end, a “roof over” will be more costly in the long run.