What Are Dimensional Shingles?

In short, dimensional shingles are asphalt shingles with a twist.  Dimensional shingles, also known as architectural or laminated shingles, have actually been popular for a number of years, but the question of what they are continues to grow as more stylish, eye-catching options come to market.


3-Tab Vs. Dimensional

We’ll begin with a comparison between 3-Tab Shingles and Dimensional Shingles:

3-Tab Shingles

3-Tab / "Regular" Shingles

Dimensional Shingles

Dimensional Shingles



Regular (3-tab) asphalt shingles have three regularly spaced asphalt tabs, giving the roofing material a very repetitive pattern. In contrast, dimensional shingles have two layers of shingle material bonded together, giving them a three dimensional appearance.


Dimensional Shingle Origin
While dimensional shingles have a number of benefits compared to 3-tab shingles, they were created primarily for appearance.  They were originally developed in the '70s in response to luxury homeowners seeking a roofing material that looked like cedar shingles but performed like asphalt. 


Designer Shingles

Many manufacturers have extended the dimensional shingle concept much further to create countless styles, ranging from victorian or old world, to rugged and dramatic.  A variety of marketing terms are used throughout the roofing industry (depending on manufacturer) to depict designer shingle collections:

  • Designer

  • Architectural
  • 
High-Definition (HD)
  • 
Premium

  • Ultra-Premium

  • TruDefinition (Owens Corning)


GAF Designer Dimensional Slate ShinglesGAF Designer Dimensional Shingles on Roof

Photos courtesy of GAF

You will notice very decorative and ornate shapes, colors and cuts in designer shingles.  Many also exhibit additional layers of granules and asphalt.  


It’s not uncommon to find other descriptive words that relate to other roofing materials, as manufacturers have tried to modify shingles in a way that simulates the appearance of other, more expensive roof types, including slate, shake & tile. 

GAF Monaco Tile Dimensional Shingles on RoofGAF Monaco Tile Dimensional Shingles up close
Photos courtesy of GAF


Cost

On average, dimensional shingles run around $3-5 per square foot installed, or about 20% more than 3-tab shingles.  Designer shingles average $4-$6 per square foot installed.  Please note that these are general averages, and do not include tear off of an existing roof.  We recommend getting estimates from 2-3 reputable roofing contractors in your area to best determine the cost of a new dimensional shingle or designer shingle roof for your property.   


Performance

Like most other roofing products, you’ll find a wide range in lifespan and warranties, and therefore cost, but they usually start at 25-30 years, and 40-50 years isn’t unusual with higher end products.  Moreover, dimensional shingles are generally more robust compared to 3-tab shingles.    



Pros of Dimensional Shingles

Because of the double bonded layer, dimensional shingles actually offer more protection from wind and hail — with the heaviest grades able to withstand 130 mph winds. Other benefits include:

  • Longer lifespan - 40-50 year warranties is not uncommon. 
  • More attractive - lots of colors and options available giving your roof a unique look.
  • Less likely to warp due to heavier construction.
  • Better at hiding structural imperfections in roof.
  • Readily available due to popularity. 
  • Works on most roof types and pitches - like regular asphalt shingles, these can be used practically anywhere.
  • Generally accepted as more aesthetically pleasing - so much so that many neighborhoods even require them


Cons of Dimensional Shingles

  • Slightly more expensive - the double layer does add 20% to the cost on average. 
  • May be more susceptible to mildew and algae due to the notches - all asphalt shingles are susceptible to mold and mildew because the organic material in the shingle is one of mold's favorite foods. 


If you are interested in a more attractive option for your roof, call the professionals at Roofing Southwest. In business for over 40 years, we have extensive experience working with all types of shingle roofing for both residential and commercial properties.   

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