Various types of building-related materials and products are often described as being "architectural". I have seen windows, doors, roofing tiles, etc. all described this way.

One possibility is that this is just meaningless marketing gobbledygook meant to convey an impression of high quality.

Or it might have real meaning, but not necessarily a consistent meaning in all cases.

But if there is a real, meaningful definition that would help navigate through myraid product choices - what is it?


  • 1
    ....we are going to mark this one up 900% and laugh all the way to the bank.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 22, 2016 at 14:03
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    @Ecnerwal so you agree with my first hypothesis then :) Jul 22, 2016 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


It does not have a consistent meaning, but in the context of building materials/products is usually intended to suggest a higher level of quality or prestige. I think this comes from the suggestion that this particular material might be specified by an architect, who wants a quality project and doesn't care much about price. In contrast, builder-grade products are low-quality, low-price, generally acceptable items available at low cost for builders who want to limit expenses.

In some areas a more specific meaning has evolved - the shingles you point out are an example, where architectural shingles are a class with a typical design (in contrast to cheaper 3-tab shingles).


Your second link has a good working example,

Architectural roofing shingles provide stunning three-dimensional appearance.

Architectural is being used in the context of someone saying,

Oh @DaveInCaz the architecture in this neighborhood is so quaint!

I believe a related term might be functional. This would be used in the context of:

@DaveInCaz those cabinets look ugly but they're functional. They are well organized and durable.

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