How much does a Roof replacement cost?

Your roof is a vital part of your home, and like most parts, it has a limited lifespan. Once you realize that it's time to install a new roof on your home or garage, it's natural for your thoughts to turn to figuring out how much it will cost. To help answer those questions, we've just updated our homeowners' roof pricing guide with the latest figures.

The obvious place to start in talking about roof pricing is to note that roof prices vary widely based on the materials used, the roofer doing the work, and the region where the home is located. We can start by considering the average cost of the most common sort of roof replacement in the United States, the installation of a new asphalt shingle "composition" roof. In most places, this is going to cost something between $3.50 and $5.50 per square foot. (You may also see this cost listed as $350-$550 per square; see below for an explanation of square pricing.)

To condense that figure even further, you can use the midpoint of the price range listed above as a fair rule of thumb. That would be $4.50 per square foot or $450 per square.

Most roofers pricing a roof replacement will include the cost of removing old shingles (up to two layers) in their estimates. There are many other common additions that you should expect to see in any roof replacement quote. These include the installation of new underlayment (typically 30-pound roofing felt), re-flashing chimneys and other through-roof projections, and installing shielding on the roof's valleys and eaves. Most such features are required by your local building codes. You should also expect a roofer to include a warranty on his workmanship; both five and 10-year warranties are common.

Homeowners who live in large cities, particularly on the East and West coasts, can expect to pay significantly more for a roof replacement. (Cities with notably high roofing costs include New York City, Washington DC, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland.) In areas like this, the average pricing for residential roof replacements start at $4.50 and can easily go as high as $7.50 per square foot. Prices in these cities are driven up by a range of different factors, including higher operational costs for roofers and higher costs of living. The elevated prices of residential property in general also contribute to this cost inflation, as all professional renovation services tend to cost more.

The average residential roof in the United States has an area of about 1,700 square feet. Larger homes may have twice as much roof area, or even more.

Professional roofers deal in larger units when measuring roofs and estimating the cost of installing new roofing materials. The standard measurement throughout the industry is the "square," which equals 100 square feet. The use of the square extends to the manufacturers that sell roofing materials; a majority of the materials and supplies used in roofing are sold "by the square."

Roof replacement cost

 Basic Pricing By The Roof

Combining the average figures given above -- the fact that re-roofing the average home needs 17 squares of asphalt "composition" shingles installed and the fact that roofers charge, on average, $350 to $550 per square -- we can use a little multiplication to produce a normal price range for a typical roof replacement project. 

That price range goes from $6,000 to $9,350. In the case of a larger home with a 30-square roof, a roof replacement would cost between $10,500 and $16,500.

roofing replacement

Pricing Different Roofing Materials

There are a lot of different types of roofing materials that can be installed on both steep and low-slope roofs. But there's a reason we went ahead and started by pricing out composition shingle roofs; this particular material is dominant in the US residential market. Almost 70 percent of the new and replacement roofs in the country today use composition shingles.

The term "composition," by the way, merely refers to the other materials added to asphalt to make up a modern  shingle. These include a fiberglass mat for structural integrity and mineral granules for weather resistance.

Here's a list of price ranges for a 17-square roof in a range of different materials:

* 3-tab composition shingles (25-year): $6,000 to $7,500

* Architectural shingles (30-year): $7,000 to $9,500

* Premium shingles (50-year): $8,500 to $12,750

* Steel shingles (G-90) or steel tiles with stone coating: $11,900 to $17,000

* Aluminum shingles: $12,750 to $18,700

* Cedar shingles/shakes: $13,000 to $20,400

* Standing-seam metal roofing: $14,450 to $20,400

The following materials have higher prices due to the need to reinforce the roof frame to bear their weight:

* Synthetic slate tiles: $13,000 to $20,400

* Concrete tiles: $13,600 to $23,800 

* Natural slates: $15,300 to $30,600

* Clay tiles: $17,000 to $30,600

Materials Vs Labor In Roof Pricing

Professional roofers tend to follow a "40/60" rule in most of their pricing. This means 40 percent of the total price goes to paying for materials and 60 percent goes to the labor costs associated with the installation. Details can vary from contractor to contractor or even job to job. As a basic example, roughly equal numbers of contractors fold their overhead costs into labor or calculate it as third, separate part of their price.

Breaking Down Pricing Specs For Different Types of Asphalt Shingles

As you likely noticed in the tables above, different average prices are quoted for three different shingle products, all of which are based on asphalt. These are 3-tab compositional shingles, architectural shingles, and premium shingles. What makes costs vary so widely for these closely-related materials? Let's find out by going into more depth.

1.

3-Tab 25-Year Shingles

As already noted, this is the most common roofing material in America. The average cost of the materials required for this type of roof tends to be between $150 and $200 per square. Besides the shingles themselves, this typically includes underlayment (roofing felt or equivalent), ice-and-water shields, ridge vents, nails, flashing for a variety of different areas (e.g. chimneys, gables, valleys, drip edges, etc), and caulk. On certain jobs, contractors will also need to buy new roof decking (plywood sheets or wood planks) to repair damaged areas.

asphalt-shingles

Many roofers will include other by-the-job expenses under the heading of materials. Examples include trash removal and permitting.As noted above, a proper roofing contractor (licensed and insured) will usually set aside 60 percent of the total cost of a new roof to pay for the labor involved in installing it.
Add it all up and you get an average range of $350 to $450 per square as the cost of a new roof using 3-tab composition shingles.

Normal installation costs assume a straightforward roof shape (hip and gable combination) on a single-story house. Most average houses in the US are built with 15 to 20 squares of roof surface, so installing a new composition shingle roof will cost anywhere from $6,725 to $9,000 in total. Most roofing contractors will guarantee their workmanship with a 5-year warranty.Be aware that damage to the underlying roof structure can increase the cost of a roof replacement significantly. Your roofing contractor may need to replace damaged or rotten wood underneath your shingles, or possibly install an entirely new roof deck. Such steps will, naturally, increase both the labor and material costs of your roof.


Dealing With Roof Penetrations

Many contractors charge homeowners extra to deal with additional roof penetrations that require additional flashing and additional labor. Flashing a single chimney is usually included in a roofer's basic pricing; do not be surprised to see extra charges appear for additional chimneys. Many roofers charge an additional fee for flashing skylights, too. A surcharge of $200 per skylight or additional chimney is a useful guideline.

3-tab shingles are the most affordable, most basic way to roof a home. Yet it may surprise you to learn that the installation process for 3-tab shingles is, in many ways, more complex and difficult than installing heavier, more expensive shingles. This is because the installer has to exercise additional care with 3-tab shingles to ensure that they line up neatly and produce an attractive, even pattern when the installation is complete. Installing architectural or dimensional shingles (see below) does not require such precision because they have a more random pattern.

2.

30-Year Shingles (Architectural/Dimensional Shingles)

30-year architectural shingles, also known as dimensional shingles, always cost a little more than 3-tab shingles. They deliver a longer useful lifespan because they are significantly thicker. When a homeowner is looking for better value in their replacement roof, using architectural shingles is a common suggestion offered up by roofing contractors.

The cost of an architectural shingle roof, installed, is generally about $50 to $100 more than a 3-tab roof. The difference in material price between the two is not so great; contractors generally include a mark-up on the more upscale roofing material. Roofers may justify this as representing a "premium quality installation," despite the fact noted above that 3-tab shingle installation is actually more labor-intensive.

Installing a new architectural shingle roof on an average-sized single-story home will likely cost you between $7,850 and $11,000. Variables affecting your final price will include the standards of the company you hire, the complexity of your roof, the quality of the installation work, the warranty details offered by both the shingle manufacturer and the contractor, and pricing standards in your community. You may even change the price of roofing replacement (for good or ill) by negotiating with your chosen roofing contractor.

3.

50-Year Premium Shingles

Any shingle built to hold up for a full 50-year lifespan counts as a premium shingle, though terminology may vary considerably from product to product. Total installation costs range between $450 to $700 per square, thus, between $9,000 and $15,000 for an average roof. Again, your specific price will be influenced by your home's location, the contractor you hire, and all the other variables described above.

Premium shingles derive their extraordinary durability from installing significantly more shingle material than in cheaper roofing options. Covering a single square properly will require four or five bundles of shingles, depending on the design. With costs going as high as $50 per bundle, you can expect to pay $200 to $250 per square simply on the shingles themselves. The other materials required to install them properly will drive up the total cost of materials even further.

Be aware that you'll also be paying higher labor costs for premium shingle installation. Your roofer is charging you for high-quality work. In exchange, you have every right to expect a more extensive warranty from your contractor. If you are paying extra for a premium shingle roof, look for a 10-year warranty on the contractor's workmanship -- at a minimum!

asphalt-shingles

It's also worth bearing in mind that regardless of the quality of the installation and the product used, it's exceptionally rare for any asphalt shingle roof to last for more than 30 years before it needs to be replaced.

Examine 50-year material warranties with a healthy grain of salt. Such agreements are usually geared more toward marketing than giving you actual performance guarantees. In most (in fact virtually all) cases, warranties this long are heavily prorated, reducing the amount of money you can claim even if you can establish conclusively that your roof failed due to manufacturing defects.

The truth is, it is very difficult and often downright impossible to prove that a given roof failure was caused by material defects rather than installation errors or exceptional environmental circumstances. 

Another point worth considering is the fact that manufacturer's warranties typically only cover the cost of replacing the materials that fail, not the cost of materials required for a full roof replacement -- and they certainly do not cover labor costs!

With all those qualifications given, there are some cases where contractors and manufacturers work together to provide a comprehensive warranty on both materials and workmanship. These typically come through manufacturer certification programs. The GAF Master Elite certification is a useful example. If you have a GAF roof system installed by a certified contractor, you get the GAF Golden Pledge Warranty, which is a formidable quality guarantee. 

The flipside with manufacturer certification programs is, of course, that you can expect to pay a premium for certified installation and/or an extended warranty.

Here's an important tip: To give your manufacturer's warranty more strength, talk to your contractor and make sure that the condition of your roof deck and the ventilation of your attic meet the manufacturer's recommendations. These are two very common reasons for warranty denials, and you can protect yourself from them by anticipating them during the roof replacement process.

​Geographic Price Considerations

The region your home is located in is often the single greatest factor in determining how much your next roof replacement will cost. Average prices in the deep South, for instance, can come in as low as $3.00 to $3.50 per square foot, installed. Compare this to roofing prices on the West Coast or in the Northeast, where prices of $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot are common.



Alternatives To Asphalt Shingles

Despite their great popularity, asphalt shingles are not your only roofing option. You should look into other materials, particularly metal, if you're seeking a long-lasting, energy-efficient alternative.

Metal roof

Why does pricing vary so much from Contractor to Contractor

Once you start soliciting quotes and examining the roofing contractors who respond to you, you may turn up some questionable characters at the bottom end of your price range.
Some contractors make low bids because they are just starting out in the industry and are hungry for work. This is not necessarily a bad thing; new roofing companies often have minimal overhead, allowing them to offer competitive prices without compromising on the quality of materials or workmanship.

However, sometimes a low bid indicates that a contractor is operating in ways that could be a short or long-term liability to you, the homeowner. "Weekend warrior" and "storm chaser" roofers cut their costs in dangerous ways by operating without worker's comp or liability insurance.

The premium prices you see are typically charged by highly-reputable companies that offer full warranties, premium products, and reliable manufacturers' certifications. Examples of premium manufacturers include CertainTeed Landmark PRO and Malarkey.

In the middle of the price range, you'll often find smaller contractors who can deliver good workmanship and quality products at an affordable price. Look for installers who carry manufacturers' certifications from solid mid-range brands like GAF or Owens Corning.

You'll often find the very best value comes from smaller companies that earn their profits by keeping overhead low. The ideal roofing contractor is one that holds manufacturers' certifications on quality products, has been working in your community for at least five years, never uses subcontractors, and is capable of giving you impeccable references from homeowners who live near you.