Should You Use 3-Tab or Architectural Shingles for Ridge Caps?

how many 3 tab shingles for ridge cap

When getting a new shingle roof, one important decision is what type of shingles to use for the ridge caps. The ridge caps are the shingles that cover the hip and ridge of your roof. Your options are typically using standard 3-tab shingles or architectural shingles to make the ridge caps. But which is the better option for your roof? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of using 3-tab vs. architectural shingles for your roof’s ridge caps.

Using the right shingles for your roof’s ridges and hips is an important part of proper roof installation. The ridge caps not only provide an attractive finish to the roof’s edges, but they also provide an essential weatherproof seal over the roof’s vulnerable peaks and ridges. So it’s worth taking the time to understand your options when it comes to the best ridge cap shingles for your roof.

Should You Use 3-Tab or Architectural Shingles for Ridge Caps?

There are pros and cons to using either 3-tab or architectural shingles when making ridge caps for your roof. Here are some things to consider:

Cost and Availability

  • 3-tab shingles are generally the most affordable option. They are readily available from most roofing suppliers.
  • Architectural shingles are more expensive than 3-tabs. Make sure your roofer has access to enough architectural shingles for the ridge caps.


  • 3-tab shingles usually look different than architectural shingles. This may create a mismatched look on the roof’s ridge.
  • Using matching architectural shingles for the ridge can provide a more seamless, uniform look.


  • 3-tab shingles are less durable than architectural. They may wear out faster on the roof’s high points.
  • Architectural shingles are thicker and more durable. They can better withstand weathering along the roof ridge.

Ease of Installation

  • 3-tab shingles are easier for roofers to cut and install along the roof hips and ridge.
  • Architectural shingles are thicker and can be harder to work with. Cutting and bending them takes more skill.

As you can see, there are good reasons for using either type of shingle for your ridge caps. Keep reading to learn more about how 3-tab and architectural shingles are installed on the roof ridge.

How to Make Ridge Cap Shingles from 3-Tab and Architectural Shingles

Both 3-tab and architectural shingles require some custom fitting to cover the hip and ridge of a roof. Here is how roofing contractors approach making ridge cap shingles from each type:

Making Ridge Caps from 3-Tab Shingles

  • Start by calculating how many bundles of 3-tab shingles you’ll need. Each bundle covers 33.3 sq ft.
  • Open the bundles and cut the shingles in half vertically, or into thirds diagonally.
  • Bend each cut shingle piece over the hip or ridge. 3-tab shingles are flexible and conform well.
  • Nail the 3-tab ridge cap shingles with a 6″-8″ exposure. Use plastic cement to seal the joints.

Fabricating Ridge Caps from Architectural Shingles

  • First calculate how many full architectural shingles you’ll need for the ridge caps.
  • Snap a chalk line the length of the ridge cap to follow when cutting.
  • Use a circular saw with an old blade to cut the architectural shingles. Make sure to account for overhang.
  • Each shingle will need to be trimmed and bent over the ridge carefully to create a uniform look.
  • Nail the architectural ridge cap shingles with a 6″-8” exposure and seal the joints with roofing cement.

As you can see, fabricating ridge cap shingles takes some work no matter what type of shingle is used. The roofing contractor must measure carefully, cut, bend and nail the shingles precisely along the roof’s hips and ridge.

Key Benefits of Using Architectural Shingles for Ridge Caps

While 3-tab shingles may be a suitable option for some roofs, there are several benefits that make architectural shingles worth considering for your roof’s ridge caps:

  • Architectural shingles are thicker and more durable, allowing them to better withstand weather, sun, and foot traffic along the roof ridge.
  • Their layered design provides enhanced dimension and shadow lines along the roof ridge and hips.
  • Matching architectural shingles provide a seamless, uniform appearance where the roof’s field shingles transition to the ridge caps.
  • The extra effort is worthwhile when it comes to properly finishing the roof with detailed ridge cap shingles.

For many homeowners, the upgraded appearance and durability of using architectural shingles for their roof’s ridge is well worth the additional cost. Consult with your roofing contractor to decide what option makes the most sense for your roof installation.

Installation Tips for Ridge Cap Shingles

Once you’ve decided on the right shingles, proper installation is key to getting a watertight, durable finish:

  • Make sure the roof decking is in good condition at the ridge. Replace any warped or damaged boards.
  • Install a ridge vent if desired prior to shingle installation.
  • Calculate the number of cap shingles needed to finish the ridge with the proper overlap. Having enough on hand is crucial.
  • Use plastic cement to seal the joints where ridge cap shingles meet.
  • Avoid nailing into the same spot as the shingles underneath. Stagger your nail points.
  • Try to work from one end of the ridge to the other to avoid a disjointed look.

Your roofing contractor should take care to properly install the ridge caps, as they play a critical role in weather protection and roof longevity.

What to Look for When Buying Ridge Cap Shingles

When it’s time to purchase the shingles for your roof’s ridge caps, here are some things to consider:

  • Hip and ridge shingles should match or complement the color and style of your roof’s field shingles. Mismatched ridge caps look sloppy.
  • Buy from the same manufacturer to ensure proper color matching. Variations can occur between brands.
  • Look for a dimensional design. Architectural shingles with multiple layers create depth and shadow lines along the roof ridge.
  • Consider warranty coverage. Ridge caps take a beating. Look for at least a 30-year manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Review the wind rating. Your ridge caps need to withstand high winds. A wind rating of at least 60 mph is preferable.
  • Inspect the sealant strip. The sealant helps create a watertight barrier along the vulnerable roof ridge. Make sure it’s adequate.
  • Calculate how many bundles you need based on your roof’s linear feet and the shingles’ stated coverage. It’s better to have extras than to run short!

Buying quality ridge cap shingles specifically designed for hips and ridges is worth the investment in terms of performance and aesthetics. Don’t try to cut corners with the wrong shingles on the ridge.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Ridge Cap Shingles

Here is a basic step-by-step guide roofers follow to properly install ridge cap shingles:

  1. Install drip edge flashing along the edges of the roof deck if not already done.
  2. Install underlayment over the decking area. Make sure the ridge area is covered.
  3. Install the field shingles up to the hips and ridge – leave these areas uncovered.
  4. Place the first ridge cap shingle at one end of the ridge, centered over the peak.
  5. Nail the shingle in place while leaving a 6″-8″ exposure.
  6. Apply a bead of roofing cement along the inside seam edge.
  7. Install the next cap, overlapping the previous by the desired exposure. Repeat steps 5-6.
  8. Install ridge vents if needed, spacing cap shingles to allow for proper ventilation.
  9. Finish covering the full length of ridge, maintaining exposure spacing.
  10. Repeat process to install hip cap shingles along hips and roof edges.
  11. Seal all seams and edges with roofing cement. Press shingles firmly into the cement for a tight seal.
  12. Use care when walking on the new ridge caps to avoid damage.

Be sure to inspect the ridge caps and hips periodically and perform any needed repairs to prevent leaks. Your roofer should provide guidance on proper maintenance. Properly installed ridge caps protect the roof and enhance its curb appeal.

Key Takeaways on Using 3-Tab vs. Architectural Shingles for Ridge Caps

  • Consider factors like cost, appearance, durability and ease of installation when deciding on 3-tab vs. architectural ridge cap shingles.
  • Cut 3-tab shingles easily conform along hips and ridges, while architectural shingles require more precision to work with.
  • Matching architectural shingles can provide a more seamless look and greater durability along the roof ridge.
  • Proper installation of the ridge caps with adequate overlap and sealed joints is crucial to prevent leaks.
  • Ridge cap shingles protect the roof’s most vulnerable areas and contribute to the roof’s overall appearance.

Consult with a professional roofing contractor on the best options for your roof. They can explain the differences in detail and help select the right shingles to meet your needs and budget. With the right ridge cap shingles properly installed, your roof will perform well for many years to come.

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