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What is the Difference Between Architectural and Three-Tab Shingles?

One of the most common designs for asphalt roofing shingles has been the three-tab shingle; but architectural shingles are a reliable alternative. The three tab is commonly a flat, single-layer shingle. Architectural shingles, also referred to as laminate or dimensional shingles, have multiple layers laminated together with an adhesive for enhanced profile and performance.

Malarkey’s Three-Tab Shingle History

The Alaskan

In 1960, Malarkey introduced the Dura-Seal, our first three-tab shingle. Like many others at the time, the flat shingle was made with mat, covered in asphalt and embedded with granules on the surface. By 1976, we introduced fiberglass mat to 3-tab shingles to give them the first 20-year warranty in the industry. Ten years later, The Alaskan®, was introduced as the first SBS polymer modified roofing shingle in 1986. The Alaskan® remains a benchmark for shingle quality in North America.

Accenting a Home with Architectural Shingles

Trends in exterior home décor can create demand for roofing designs that provide more curb appeal to a property. The architectural shingle, with a layered, dimensional design, are often reminiscent of traditional cedar shake shingles with compelling colors and patterns.


Many architectural shingles are made of two shingle layers. On a laminated architectural shingle, the top layer is cut into a saw tooth pattern and laminated to an uncut second layer, known as the "backer" or "shim." Malarkey introduced, the Legacy®, the first SBS polymer modified laminate shingle in 1997. Increasingly, designer shingles are sought after by the homeowner in search of a unique look for their roof.

Added Protection in Architectural Shingles


Since architectural shingles are substantially thicker than traditional asphalt shingles, many are more resilient to impacts. For instance, the Vista™ shingle made with the new Nexgen™ polymer modified asphalt technology, is impact rated for the UL 2218 Class 3.

Choose What’s Best for Your Home and Budget

Roofing materials protect your home from inclement weather, while at the same time enhancing its curb appeal. When the time comes to replace your roof, consider which asphalt shingle best suits you and your home. Three-tab shingles are a traditional, reliable solution. Architectural shingles offer strong performance, a pronounced appearance, and are available in a wide range of different colors. Explore these shingle options and others, on our Residential Roofing page.