Dimensional shingles, also known as architectural or laminated shingles, are the roofing material of
choice for many homeowners in the U.S.
The attractiveness, affordability, and solid asphalt construction of dimensional shingles are among the many reasons for their popularity.
If you’re considering a dimensional shingle roof, researching and comparing other asphalt-based
roofing products can help you make your final decision.
To get started on your roof replacement project, contact your local roofing pros for FREE ESTIMATES!
What Are Dimensional Shingles?
Asphalt shingles are constructed from layered fiberglass amid asphalt and ceramic-coated granules.
Traditional asphalt shingles provide a water-resistant coating that deflects U.V. light.
Dimensional roof shingles are asphalt shingles with a twist. They are layered, and their depth and
thickness make them look like wood shakes or slate.
Dimensional shingles have two layers of shingle material bonded together, with singles indented at random to expose the bottom layer.
The different high and low tab finish gives dimensional shingles their distinct look.
Did You Know? Dimensional shingles were developed primarily for improved aesthetics. They were originally invented in the 70s in response to luxury homeowners requesting a roofing material resembling cedar shingles but functioning like asphalt.
How Much Do Dimensional Shingles Cost?
The table below compares the cost of dimensional roof shingles to # tab and designer asphalt shingles.
|Shingle Type||Cost per Square||Cost per Bundle||Cost per Square Foot|
|3-Tab||$100 – $150||$30 – $50||$1 – $150|
|Designer||$800 – $1,800||$270 – $1,800||$8 – $18|
|Additional Costs to Consider|
|Labor||$30 – $80 per hour|
|Reinforcement||$1,000 – $10,000|
|Flashing||$5 per square foot|
|$10 – $20 per piece|
|Old Roof Removal||$1 – $5 per square foot|
|$1,000 – $1,500 total average|
|$40 – $80 per hour|
Pros of Dimensional Shingles
There are several ways in which dimensional shingles deliver value long-term.
The thicker and stronger granules on the surface of the dimensional shingle give it a distinctive look and style. It is usually more aesthetically pleasing, and some neighborhoods expect a dimensional roof. They are available in over 20 colors and multiple styles.
With dimensional roof shingles, you’ll find a broad range of lifespan, warranties, and costs. They generally last longer than standard roofing as they can bend slightly to prevent the water from entering the home quickly.
When appropriately maintained, they typically last around 25 to 30 years, but 40- or
50-year-old shingle roofs aren’t unheard of with higher-end types like the designer shingle.
Dimensional shingles are installed on roof decks like regular asphalt roofs but slightly less precision and care during installation.
While the installers need to cover the whole roof, the inherent design of the shingles allows them to stack on top of one another more easily to cover up imperfections.
Still, the roof needs to be precisely covered to provide ample protection from the elements. It’s
recommended that a professional complete the job to ensure the shingles are attached correctly to
prevent leaking or premature damage.
Dimensional shingles are compatible with most common roof setups and pitches, making them the
ideal choice for many different properties.
However, even they have limits. In general, asphalt shingles (and dimensional shingles) require a roof pitch from 2:12 to 12:12 (10 to 45 degrees).
Low-pitch and flat roofs will cause early deterioration, and high-pitch roofs require more complex installation to ensure that shingles remain intact.
Dimensional shingles are an excellent roofing choice to help improve your home's energy efficiency by reducing costs to keep your home cool.
Some dimensional shingles include special, extremely reflective granules to lessen the roof’s temperature by redirecting more U.V. rays back to the atmosphere. This process helps to reduce cooling system use during the summertime.
Lower temperatures can increase shingles longevity and underlayment, extending the roof’s service.
As a result, dimensional shingles might last longer in temperate climates that experience freezing
Did you know? The main types of asphalt shingles are fiberglass and organic. Fiberglass shingles have several layers comprising a base coat of fiberglass mat, then a layer of asphalt, and on top of that, a layer of ceramic pieces.
Organic shingles are developed from recycled felt paper saturated in asphalt. Most homeowners opt for fiberglass as it’s cheaper, straightforward to make, and lasts longer.
Cons of Dimensional Shingles
Dimensional shingles aren’t perfect and are not suitable for every roof. If some of these features
don’t work for you, consider another roofing materials, such as a metal roof.
Existing Roof Needs to Be Removed First
Dimensional shingles can't be applied over other roofing materials. It must be installed on a clean roof substrate; thus, the existing roof should be stripped first.
Susceptible to Algae and Mildew
The notches in shingle design mean they're more susceptible to mildew and algae. Unfortunately,
the organic material used in its construction is one of mold's favorite foods.
Higher Upfront Cost
Due to advanced manufacturing, these shingles are pricier than the basic 3-tab asphalt shingles.
Usually, a dimensional shingle roof costs about 20% more upfront than a regular 3-tab one.
However, they’re still typically less expensive to procure and install than other roofing materials.
Dimensional vs. 3-Tab Shingles
For decades when people discussed asphalt shingles, they usually meant the 3-tab type. Traditional
3-tab or regular shingles are classed as single-layer shingles.
They are constructed using a fiberglass mat embedded in asphalt and coated by mineral granules. 3-tab features a repetitive roofing pattern.
Dimensional and 3-tab shingles both have their plus-sides. They’re relatively cheap, add character to your home with various styles and colors, and are easy to maintain and repair.
Here’s a closer look at 3 tab vs dimensional shingles.
Dimensional Shingles Can Withstand Bad Weather Better
An investment in dimensional shingles means extra product per square as they can weigh 50-100%
more than 3-tab shingles.
Dimensional shingles offer more impact resistance and will withstand frequent freeze-thaw phases in colder climates.
Over the years, shingles tend to develop tiny fissures, and water in the cracks expands when frozen and widens over time.
The heavier and thicker design of dimensional shingles equates to better endurance during this process. 3-tab’s single-layer construction makes it thinner, weaker, and less durable in areas with frequent extreme weather.
Dimensional Shingles Are Less Susceptible to Storm Damage
In some climates, the weather can occasionally get intense. Severe ice storms and hurricane-force
winds can take down heavy branches and damage shingles.
Also, shingles can loosen and fly off a roof by high winds alone. Dimensional shingles have a high wind rating of 130 mph, while 3-tab shingles usually have a rating of only 60 mph.
While a 60 mph wind rating is enough in common snow and thunderstorms, it is usually not suitable for hurricane strikes.
Dimensional Shingles Increase Property Value
Dimensional shingles generate more curb appeal. Future homebuyers prefer the more dimensional
and highly textured look of dimensional shingles instead of the flat look of 3-tab shingles.
Therefore, selling a home could mean a faster sale or higher offer. In addition, investing in higher-quality dimensional shingles demonstrates that you take pride in your property.
Did you know? Despite asphalt shingles being a relatively new roof material (invented circa 1900), it has by far become the most popular roofing material in America.
Today, asphalt shingles are used in more than 80% of residential roofing and re-roofing projects.
Dimensional Shingles Offer Better Warranties
The warranty cover is generally a good sign of durability and quality. When major roofing
manufacturers are confident in their offerings, they tend to offer lengthier warranties.
When you consider the lifespan and decreased upkeep costs of dimensional shingles, property
owners ultimately find the dimensional type to be the better choice. For example, the yearly price of a roof with a 20-year lifespan is $50 per $1,000 roofing cost.
On the other hand, a 50-year roof costs $20 per $1,000. Therefore, dimensional shingles offer better long-term value.
Contractors Prefer Dimensional Roofing Shingles
Contractors prefer to work with dimensional shingles as opposed to 3-tab shingles since they do not
require a tab slot beneath them. In addition, due to their weight and sturdiness, they don’t need
Moreover, the staggered, multi-dimensional design conceals slight layout mistakes, whereas 3-tab requires side-by-side placement with high accuracy.
Dimensional vs. 3-Tab Shingles Installation
Dimensional roofs are affixed using screws for endurance and to reduce the need for as many holes.
3-tab shingles, on the other hand, are typically installed with nails.
Reasons for Choosing 3-Tab Shingles
There are two main reasons you might consider 3-tab over the more premium dimensional shingle
roof, and both are very edge cases.
When Dimensional Shingles Are Unsuitable
The 3-tab option is useful for fixing or re-roofing an existing 3-tab shingle roof. The thickness of the dimensional shingle would be incompatible with the thinner 3-tab shingle roof.
The roof would need to be stripped to re-roof a 3-tab shingle roof using dimensional roofing.
When Working With a Tight Roofing Replacement Budget
3-tab installation is the more affordable option of the two. So if you need a new roof on a budget,
consider your options and how much you are prepared to spend.
Dimensional vs. 3-Tab Shingles Cost
Dimensional shingles typically cost more than 3-tab because of their construction and the
On average, you can expect to pay approximately $100-$150 per square, $30-
$50 per bundle, or $1-$1.50 per square foot. for three tab shingles.
On the other hand, dimensional shingles cost approximately $480 per square, $160 per bundle, and $4.88 per square foot.
Did you know? Asphalt shingles do not seal straight after being nailed into place—they seal quicker using the sun’s heat.
Therefore, the time it takes for the asphalt to activate and seal together is dependent on the temperature, roof slope, and roof direction compared to the sun.
Dimensional vs. Designer Shingles
Designer shingles are top-of-the-line asphalt shingles, and their concept stems from the dimensional
design with additional creativity.
Like dimensional shingles, they are made with extra layers of asphalt or fiberglass. However, designer shingles use additional superior materials.
Designer shingles offer decorative shapes and cuts. They are usually cut, colored, or lavishly shaped to be exceptionally decorative.
Manufacturers have shaped designer shingles to mimic premium roof types like wood shake, terra cotta, natural slate, or tile.
Today, there are so many choices available you can create practically any look or ambiance from old world to Victorian.
The roofing industry defines designer shingles using an array of terms like high-definition, architectural, premium, and ultra-premium.
Designer shingles are also ecologically-friendlier due to a higher sunlight reflection index. They meet the Energy Star requirement to reduce energy costs which saves money and resources in the long
Since designer shingles are essentially a high-end version of the dimensional design, they share
many features. However, there are slight differences.
Designer Shingles Require Less Maintenance
Designer shingles require slightly less upkeep than their dimensional counterparts. And thanks to
their superior materials, they do a better job withstanding strong winds, excessive rainfall, and
of extreme heat.
Some materials used in construction of designer shingles are specially rated for their capacity to resist hurricane damage, tears, and impact.
In addition, designer shingles are more resistant to black and green algae and mold that dimensional
shingles fall victim to during their lifespan.
Designer Shingle Lifetime Warranty
One of its most significant advantages of designer shingle roofs are their common lifetime
Most designer roofs are intended to last over 25 years. But with proper maintenance
and regular care, they can easily last a lifetime.
Dimensional vs. Designer Shingles Cost
Designer shingles are considered high-end asphalt; therefore, they are more expensive than
dimensional shingles deemed mid-range on the scale.
Depending on the additional materials used, designer shingles cost approximately $800-$1,800 per square, $270-$1,800 per bundle, and $8-$18 per square foot.
However, you get what you pay for, and designer shingles offer an opportunity to
increase the value of your property even further than a dimensional shingle roof could.
Pro Tip: When deciding on a roof color, factor in your house’s color scheme. Redbrick houses are complemented by dark brown, black, or deep gray shingles.
A light gray house will look brilliant with a dark gray roof. Cream or beige houses look great with warm gray, brown, or colored shingles.
If you’re considering changing your house color, now is the best time to consider the whole color
Avoid choosing your roof’s color based on a small color chip or on the colors displayed on a
screen. Gather a few large samples to see what it looks like at different times of the day.
Things to Consider in the Total Cost of a New Dimensional Shingles Roof
Here are a few other costs to include in the end price to give you a rough idea of how much the total project may cost.
Number of Shingles Required
To find out how much roofing material is required for your project, you'll need to work out the
square foot of your roof and its pitch.
To measure the square foot, take the length and width of each plane on your roof, then multiply the
numbers. Your roof’s pitch is determined by how much it rises for every foot it runs. Take a 6-inch 12 roof pitch, for example.
This means the roof rises 6 inches for every 12 horizontal inches of length.
And to account for waste, add approximately 10% to 15% in additional materials. For an accurate
estimate, consider using a roofing calculator.
The hourly cost of shingle installation ranges between $45 and $100. However, the prices may vary
depending on the roofer’s experience, location, and quality of work. Roofs with a complex design,
for example, can incur extra installation costs.
Cost of Installing A Complex Roof
Roofs with varying steep angles or pitches may create additional risk for the installer, increasing the installation cost.
Roofs with complex designs often need specialist equipment to complete the job safely and, in turn, increase the end cost.
Cost Of Flashing
The flashing offers a protective liner around the base of items that protrude from the house, like
vents and the chimney.
Its approximate cost is $5 per square foot or around $10 to $20 per piece. Flashing is made from rubber or metal, and as these materials will crack or rust over time, they need replacing whenever a new roof is installed.
Cost of Removing Old Shingles
When installing a roof, the old roofing will need to be stripped and taken away. This can cost
approximately $1 to $5 per square foot. In total, the job costs around $1,000 to $1,500.
A warranty could be required to help cover any issues with the installation. Dimensional roofing will come with a manufacturer’s warranty, but this covers the product and does not include installation costs.
Defects in the workmanship are a common reason a new roof installation may fail. Therefore,
an additional warranty with the contractor can help ensure you're covered comprehensively, just in case.
Select Dimensional Shingles For A Win-Win Roofing Material
Dimensional shingles are a preferred roofing material and they continue to grow in popularity throughout the U.S.
These shingles offer a solid construction that can last up to 50 years, are highly impact-resistant against extreme weather, and offer excellent curb appeal.
Dimensional roofing shingles are available in dozens of looks and colors that will increase the value of your property.
Overall, the dimensional shingle is a middle of the road asphalt-based roofing material. As a result, it graces the roofs of millions of American homes.
For over 20 years Leo has run a successful roofing business in New England, specializing in metal roofing, as well as cool flat roofing technologies. Having replaced and installed hundreds of roofs in New England, Leo has first hand experience with pretty much every residential roofing material and roofing manufacturer available in the US.