Multi level shingle roof on luxury home at Lake of the Ozarks

What are Three-tab Shingles and Why Should You Consider Them?

Now when it comes to either building a new roof or re-roofing your existing one, you have quite a few options. You have the option of metal roofing, clay roofing, ceramic roofing, and various kinds of asphalt shingles. As it turns out, asphalt shingles are the most used in the U.S. In fact, 75% of homes use asphalt shingles. The reason why they are so prevalent is that they are durable and add curb appeal. In addition, many homeowners choose asphalt shingles because they are quite cost-effective. Still, many homeowners don’t really know much about three-tab shingles and why they are so prevalent.

In this article, we’ll go into what three-tab shingles are and why they are worthy of your consideration. And, since we are often asked about this, we’ll also compare them with metal roofing.

What are 3-Tab Shingles?

The name three-tab shingles come from the three uniform cutouts, or the tabs, as they are called, that are made across the lower edge. While the individual shingles you see appears to be an independent piece after it is installed, you are really seeing one of the three tabs of one shingle.

Some benefits of 3-tab shingles include:

  • They are more cost-effective as compared to the more expensive architectural shingles.
  • They offer a uniform and modern look.
  • They are also the most popular amongst homeowners who want a roof that adds curb appeal.

Standing Seam Metal Roof Cost Vs Three-Tab Shingles

Standing seam metal roofing is among the most durable roofing options around. However, they also happen to be considerably more expensive as compared to three-tab shingles. 

In terms of pricing, a basic standing seam metal roof for a 1,500 sq. ft home can vary widely. Many pros estimate spending $8 – $14 per square foot so that 1,500 sq. ft. roof would cost you anywhere from $12k – $21k. The price mainly depends on the quality of the metal roofing and the roofers you hire for the job. Now, in contrast, the same size roof installing three-tab shingles will cost you $2500 to $5000 on average. Again, the quality of the shingles will play a role in how much you pay for them.

When you figure the lifespan of good quality asphalt shingles, even with replacement costs over time they often still end up costing less.

Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation Vs Three-Tab Shingles

Installation of a metal roof is far more time consuming and requires more experience.

On average you’ll be paying around $300 per square to install a standing seam metal roof. The cost of a standing seam metal roof installation is often prohibitive for homeowners.

On the other hand, three-tab singles are much faster, and therefore, more cost-effective to install. Depending on who you hire, the cost to install asphalt shingles can range from $80 to $200 per square.

Durability of Metal Vs. 3-Tab Shingles

We’d have to say that metal roofs, in general, are much more durable as compared to a 3-tab shingles roof. On average a metal roof will last you at least 50 years, where has a shingle roof will last around 20-25 years depending on how well it is taken care of by the homeowner. 

So, if the cost of an asphalt shingle roof falls somewhere between 30-50% of a metal roof, dollar for dollar, the cost is comparable and sometimes better. Plus, if you were to invest the savings difference in an IRA or elsewhere in your property, you will come out ahead. This is especially so when you factor in compounding interest and inflation over the long term.


Three-tab shingles have become increasingly popular over the years because it offers homeowners an excellent roofing solution at an affordable price. However, if you intend to live in the home for as long as you can and have no intention of selling it, then it is sometimes worth investing in metal roofing. Most people prefer the lower initial cost, which allows them to keep extra cash for other investments or uses.

We recommend that you contact a roofing professional to discuss your options.

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