Dimensional Shingles: The Best home improvement upgrade you may ever make.

Aug 15, 2012

Our company replaces 250-300 shingle roofs a year. One of the decisions our homeowners have to make before we begin their roof project is whether to upgrade from a traditional shingle to a dimensional shingle.

12Traditional vs. Dimensional

A traditional shingle, sometimes called 3-tab shingle, has been around for many years. It is 36” long, has notches or tabs cut out every 12” and has a flat surface.

A dimensional shingle, also known as an architectural or laminate shingle, began impacting the shingle market in the mid 1980’s. It is a full “slab” of shingle, usually around 42” with pieces of shingle laminated on its surface. The laminated pieces give the shingle depth and dimension. They are made to mimic the look of wood shake or slate roofing.

Comparing the Big Four: Wind Rating, Longevity, Appearance and Cost

Wind: The dimensional shingle is the definite winner.

The way a traditional shingle is made, with a tab cut out every 12”, it is susceptible to strong winds. The average wind rating on a traditional 3-tab shingle is 60mph.

The dimensional/architectural shingle design is one slab of shingle, no tab cut outs. The laminated pieces add weight and structure to the shingle. A good quality made dimensional shingle will carry a wind rating of 110mph; almost double the traditional shingle wind rating.

Longevity: The dimensional shingle wins.

The traditional 3-tab shingles maximum life is 18-25 years. A good dimensional shingle manufactured by a quality company will last 40 plus years.

Appearance: No, question, the dimensional shingle wins again!

Dimensional shingles are made to look like wood shake or slate tiles. The change in appearance and increased curb appeal when installing a new dimensional shingle can be dramatic.

Cost: The only advantage for the traditional shingle.

The dimensional shingle is an upgrade and does come with a higher price tag. When they first came on the market, they were substantially higher than a traditional 3-tab shingle. Because of its popularity the cost to upgrade has dropped significantly. Today, on a typical home, the increase cost to upgrade is about $400.00 (depending on the size of your roof).

Our Recommendation: Always upgrade your shingle.

We feel that a much higher wind rating, a longer protection life and great curb appeal outweigh the added cost of an upgrade. And if you look at the $400 or so cost spread over 40 years, the typical upgrade cost is $10-$15 a year. A smart choice.