Three-tab shingles are a standard type of asphalt shingle characterized by a flat, even appearance and regular layout compared to the layered look of laminated architectural or dimensional shingles, which mimics the appearance of traditional wooden shingling. Three-tab shingles come in a single uniform size and are usually less expensive, lighter weight and less resilient than architectural shingles.
Three-tab shingles are made of a single strip of material lined with three tabs or cut-outs on their bottom edges, giving the appearance of multiple pieces in a single easy-to-apply piece. They are usually arranged in an overlapping brick-like tiling pattern. Originally the most common form of asphalt shingle, three-tab shingles started being replaced by architectural shingles in the 1970s. Architectural shingles have thicker textures and dimensions due to multiple layers of asphalt-coated tabs affixed to their bases. These extra layers make the shingles heavier but sturdier, less likely to warp, and more wind and weather resistant.
Although they are generally considered less attractive than architectural shingles and are also less durable, three-tab shingles cost on average of 20 percent less, so are preferred for lower-value houses and other economical residences. Their granule asphalt coatings are water-resistant and available in a variety of colors and textures.