Laminated shingles are stronger.

Laminated shingles are stronger and have more depth

Knowing the difference between the various sizes, manufacturers and types of asphalt roofing shingles will make a huge difference in your roofing project.

Different types of asphalt roofing shingles are today’s most popular roofing material, which is mostly due to their economical nature and easy installation but is also due to the fact that their guaranteed lifespan is in line with the much more costly wood shake, tile, metal or slate competitors. There are also many manufacturers to choose from, including CertainTeed, GAF, IKO and Owens Corning.

In my previous post, I discussed the composition of asphalt shingles and which shingle manufacturing companies make them durable enough to remain stable even through the toughest Toronto winters. To go along with that article, I’ve received a few questions from clients regarding the differences between types of asphalt roofing shingles and their purpose, which I’ll outline below.

Different types of asphalt roofing shingles.

The three-tab shingles create a clean, uniform look to the roof, while the laminate shingles offer natural depth and variance in colour.

For asphalt roof installations, there are two most popular types of shingles to choose from: three-tab and laminated or ‘architectural’ shingles. These two shingle types are different in appearance, weight, performance, durability, and, of course, costs.

Three Tab Roofing Shingles:

Asphalt shingle composition.

Three-tab roofing shingle appearance.

This is one of the most common types of asphalt roofing shingles, which also goes by the name of strip shingle. It’s also the cheapest shingle to install on a roof. Its main identifying feature are the three ‘tabs’ that are exposed along the length of the shingle for visual effect, which looks like they are three separate pieces when installed (but it’s only one).

The two notches, which separate the lower part of the shingle that separate the lower part of the shingle into three tabs, are called cutouts.

  • The most prevalent size of three tab shingles are 13 ¼ inches wide by 39 3/8 inches in length (Metric)
  • Three-tab shingles typically have warranties that are up to 20-30 years in length (although they are pro-rated, diminishing in value over time)
  • They are said to resist winds of up to 100 km/hour
  • Costs are on average $18-21 per bundle

The cheapest shingle isn’t always the best one.

As with anything though, you get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability and the three-tab shingle is the cheapest option when it comes to selecting a shingle for your roof.

Personally, having handled all the three tab shingles out there, I have yet to find one that I would recommend to install on a client’s roof. In fact, I refuse to install cheap shingles for my clients because they will have to be redone in 10-15 years, impacting the environment and everyone’s wallets in the process.

In the past, strip shingles were produced with more asphalt and lasted longer. Currently, they are thin, flimsy and I doubt they will last through their 20-30 year warranties. So it’s no surprise to me that there are already class action lawsuits against prominent shingle manufacturers like BP and IKO due to their failing shingles and limited warranties a mere decade after installation.

Laminated Roofing Shingles:

An enhanced, stronger version of a three-tab shingle is called a laminated shingle. Also known as an ‘architectural shingle’, it is built with a heavier base mat, better quality asphalt and with an extra layer under its lower half, which equals a thickness twice as deep as the three-tab shingle. This depth creates a more natural, visually appealing, dimensional look, mimicking real slate or wood. They are also typically solid across their entire length. Multiple layers are overlapped and laminated together to produce this textured appearance.

Laminated asphalt roofing shingles.

Laminated shingles are stronger and have more depth than non-laminated asphalt roofing shingles and will last through the rough winters that a place like Toronto experiences each year.

Better performance.

Apart from looking better on your roof, more importantly, laminated shingles offer better performance. By virtue of the quality and amount of materials used, they are thicker and more durable. With more protective asphalt, granules and fiberglass per shingle, they thereby resist UV rays, heat, and water damage more effectively, longer.

  • Sizes are typically 13 1/4″ in Width by 39 3/4″ in Length (Metric)
  • Warranties of 30-50 years, or Lifetime Manufacturer’s Warranties (also prorated, just like the three-tab shingles)
  • Wind resistance of up to 180 km/h
  • Costs are on average $20-28 per bundle

Installation costs.

Installation costs for laminate shingles are about the same as for the three-tab shingles, so the only savings are in material costs for homeowners. But would I install a 3-tab shingle on my own roof?


I have CertainTeed’s Landmark roofing shingles, which have a two-piece laminated fiberglass base construction and mimic the look of natural wood. They have retained their appearance, and I know that they will last the full warranty period as they have the strength and heaviness of multiple 3-tab shingles, thereby being able to withstand the stronger winds and winter conditions in a city like Toronto.

If you need more information before you are ready to choose between the different types of asphalt roofing shingles available, contact Archer Roofing today to discuss your options. We offer free roof inspections in the Toronto area and always provide our clients with our roofing knowledge and expertise to help them make the best choice for their home and family.

Call the best roofing company in Toronto at 416-427-2437!


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