Architectural roof shingles, also known as dimensional, laminated, or composite shingles, were introduced by the residential roofing industry in the 1970s, when manufacturers were looking to create a higher-end product for homebuilders and consumers.
As time goes on, more and more homeowners are choosing architectural shingles for their new homes, as well as when they need to repair roofs on older structures. They are quickly becoming the product of choice because of their three-dimensional appearance, their enhanced durability, and the added insulation they provide.
For most of the last century, the standard roofing shingle was of the “3-tab” variety, so-called for the three tabs or flaps with quarter-inch grooves between them in each panel. These standard 3-tab shingles were made with a single layer of material, generally asphalt or fiberglass, on top of a glass mat. They lay flat against the roof and were typically arrayed in a straight line.
In contrast, architectural shingles are manufactured in such a way to produce a three-dimensional appearance. Unlike flat "3-tab" shingles, architectural shingles are laminated together offering a more aesthetic design. Architectural shingles are thicker and heavier than traditional "3-tab" shingles and consequently are more effective and better at withstanding higher winds.
In addition, because of their relative thickness, architectural shingles don't show irregularities in a roof deck like traditional thinner shingles can. Some architectural shingles are also treated with copper, or zinc mixture, to help protect against the streaks and stains that algae can cause.