How long do architectural shingles last?

Shingles on the roof are important as they protect the roof and house. There are various types and they come in different styles and sometimes different colors. Architectural shingles, or dimensional are one type and they can last 15-30 years, depending on the environment and maintenance. 

One home you look at may have wood, while another may have metal, or have architectural shingles or more.  In all, you want to make sure the home has shingles that will last and be good for the climate you live in. They are a costly investment, but necessary to keep your loved ones safe.

Let’s take a look at architectural shingles and why they are better than three-tab, life expectancy, when a replacement may occur, the cost versus other types of shingles, and wind mitigation.

Why Architectural Shingles Are Better Than Three Tab

Three tab shingles are popular on homes but architectural shingles are better for many reasons. 

  • They are dimensional shingles in shape and can weigh 50 percent more than three tab.
  • Architectural also have multiple layers of asphalt and then are laminated so they are more durable.
  • Sporting a more appealing look and color material, they come in various sizes and colors.
  • Even though they are more expensive ($250-400 per square), many people like them because they are replicas of wood, slate, and other attractive roofing, just without the high cost 

On the other hand, three tab shingles are more popular because they are:

  • Made of a lighter and thinner material of asphalt that can shed water.
  • One of the most common types of roofing material and affordable (averaging $70 to $150 per square).
  • Lightweight, come in one shingle tab size with three tabs, and 12 inches wide.

Life Expectancy of Architectural Shingles and Three Tab

Depending on the location of the home in the U.S., the life expectancy of the architectural shingles can vary.  Manufacturers project they will last 30 years. However, Florida and the southern half the U.S have high heat and major storms and hurricanes that can damage these shingles easily. Unfortunately, this lowers their lifespan. 

On a good note, architectural shingles are made to withstand wind uplift of 110 mph and can stay on in wind uplift of 130 mph with a special roof bracing.  Even though the northern climates have snow and ice, the weather in the south has more of an impact on the shingles.

Three tab shingles on the other hand in optimal conditions can last up to 30 years. Seven to ten years is the expectancy in severe weather areas, but 18-20 years is the average in milder climates. These work well in temperate climates, but not areas subject to hurricanes. This is because the wind uplift is 60-70 miles per hour.  Unfortunately, they fail prematurely when in long-term indirect sunlight and temperature changes that can be seen in the southern part of the U.S. and the desert areas. 

When should you expect to replace shingles?

As stated above, shingles have specific life expectancy. Nachi reports roofs last about 15-20 years but it depends on the installation, the weather makers, and climate that affect the roof.  

After heavy storms, take a look at the roof and make sure no shingles are missing.  Then, check to see that none of the shingles are coming up, buckled, warped or dried. If you see any of this, contact a home inspector to inspect the roof for you.

Check the gutters as well and make sure the granules are not washing into there.  This can also be a sign that it is time to replace the roof and/or shingles.  A home inspector can come out and check this also and then refer you to a professional.

Why you can expect less life expectancy than what the label says

Unfortunately, people need to make money and some roofers will try to upsell shingles.  You will be told that life expectancy is much higher than what the truth is. It will also depend on the weather and climate as to how long the shingles will last. Stormier and hotter years cause the shingles to damage and replacement may be earlier than expected.  

This is why researching various types of shingles is important.  Also, researching home inspectors, reading reviews, and finding one who is reputable is essential. They can diagnose the issue and then refer you to a professional company.

Cost of Architectural Shingles Versus Others

Architectural shingles are thicker, heavier material, and average between $250-400 per square feet.  Aesthetically appealing and help increase the value of the home due to the varieties offered in color and style.

Wood shingles– $250-$600 per square feet and require a lot of maintenance and do fade over time or change colors.  They are insect and rot-resistant, great in warmer climates, and look wonderful on cottage and Tudor style homes.

Clay Tiles– $600-$800 per square foot and made of terra cotta material which is heavier than a three tab. They look nice and usually seen in the south and southwestern states.

clay tiles for roof

Metal Roofing– Averages about $115 per square foot for aluminum or steel, all the way to $900 per square feet for stone coated steel and standing-seam copper panels.  Great in states with snow as it slides right off the roof!

Slate Time Roof– $600-$1500 per square foot and seen on mansions and premiere homes due to requiring rafters that are strengthened to hold them.  They are very heavy and won’t withstand regular home rafters.

Three tab– $70-$150 per square foot and the most common on homes in the U.S.  The cheapest and least appealing roof, but easier to find and install. This type saves the homeowner money.

Wind Mitigation Inspection

In Florida, homes must be able to withstand hurricanes or at least have the proper materials in place to do so.  Wind Mitigation is an inspection that is conducted to save the homeowner money on insurance after a home inspection.  After hurricanes in the early 2000s caused a lot of damage in Florida, insurance companies began to require the inspection to issue new mortgages. 

Current homeowners can have the inspection done and save a lot on their windstorm deductible.  Insurance companies want homeowners to have the proper safety measures in place to hopefully have less damage than in previous years. Composition shingles and tiles are the most common types of roofs in Florida.  However, the attachment to the roof deck must be with nails, not staples. Hip roofs are better with the wind than gable roofs, and the roof deck must attach to the framing.


There are a lot of choices for shingles for the roof and choosing ones that will withstand the climate in your part of the U.S. is important. Think about cost but also what will save you money in the long run. Roof shingles will not last as long as the label says but proper maintenance and care can help you get many years out of them.

Wind mitigation inspections are important to save you money and to make sure your home is up to the standards so it is around for a long time.

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