A Complete Guide to New or Replacement Roof Projects
Few things are as important as a roof over your head. Roof replacement is big investment, but the expense is unavoidable every 15 to 30 years or so. Put it off and you could end up with a leaky roof – or worse, a collapsed roof.
The cost of roof replacement depends on the materials you choose, the size and pitch of your roof, your geographic location and more. Very generally, the average job with mid-grade materials will cost about $5,000 to $10,000. However, you could spend as little as $2,000 for a small roof with asphalt shingles and only one layer of old roofing to be torn off, or as much as $25,000 for a slate or metal roof.
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The most important decision you’ll make, aside from choosing a contractor, is the roofing material. There are many options, all at varying price points. Before you hire a roofer, take some time to educate yourself on the various types and their pros and cons.
- Asphalt shingles (also called composition or 3-tab shingles) are the most popular of roofing materials, claiming 70 percent to 80 percent of the market share. Asphalt shingles are affordable and easy to install but less attractive than other types.
- Architectural shingles are also made of asphalt, but they mimic the look of higher-end roofing products such as cedar or wood shake. They’re more expensive than regular asphalt shingles but less expensive than real wood.
- Wood shakes are made of natural wood. They are energy efficient and add character to your home, but they’re high maintenance. Without regular care, they are prone to rotting, warping, mold and insect infestation.
- Slate is a natural stone product that is beautiful and durable. It adds tremendous curb appeal and boosts resale value. However, slate is heavy and extremely expensive.
- Clay roofing tile is commonly seen on Spanish-style or southwestern homes. It is available is a variety of styles, including barrel, interlocking and shingles. Clay is easy to maintain and has a long lifespan, but it’s pricy and heavy.
- Concrete tile is a newer roofing material that is less expensive than clay but similar in character and almost as durable.
- Metal roofing, typically made of steel or aluminum, is very strong and durable. Steel is low maintenance and the roof will likely outlive you, but the price is high.
Cost of Roof Replacement
Roofing materials are typically priced by the square, or 100 square feet. Here is what you can expect to pay per square for various materials, including installation. All prices are meant to be guidelines, not exact figures, because prices vary so much among regions.
- Regular asphalt shingles: $140 to $320 per square, depending on type, quality and local labor rates. The average roof requires 20 to 30 squares, which brings the total cost to $2,800 to $9,600.
- Architectural asphalt shingles: $200 to $400 per square, or $5,000 to $10,000 for a roof that requires 25 squares.
- Slate: $700 to $1,000 per square, or $17,500 to $25,000 for 25 squares.
- Wood shakes: $500 to $1,000 per square, or $12,500 to $25,000 for 25 squares.
- Clay tiles: $700 to $900 per square; $17,500 to $22,500 for 25 squares.
- Metal: $500 to $1,000 per square.
In addition to those costs, tear off and disposal of the old roofing usually costs $100 to $150 per square. You’ll pay less for a single layer and more for multiple layers. Lighter roofing materials will cost less to remove than heavy roofing materials.
Extras such as an ice/water protection membrane or replacement of plywood decking cost about $50 to $100 per square foot. City or town permits can run several hundred dollars, and they’re required in most places.
How Many Squares Do I Need?
Estimating the total square footage of your roof is fairly easy. Measure the length and width of each plane, then multiply the length by width to get the square footage of each plane. Add the square footage of each plane together to get the total square footage.
A plane is essentially each flat surface of the roof. For example, a gable roof, which has two two sloping sides, has two planes.
Choosing a Contractor
Among roofing contractors, you’ll find various levels of expertise and professionalism. Look for a company that guarantees its work for 5 to 10 years, and get that guarantee in writing. The guarantee should cover any damage or defects related to the installation process. Faulty materials are another matter – roofing products come with separate warranties.
Before hiring any company, make sure to do some background research. Ask for references and check the company’s background with consumer organizations like the Better Business Bureau. One complaint doesn’t necessarily mean the company is shady, but steer clear of any roofing contractor with a long list of complaints.
Finally, make sure any roofer you hire is knowledgable about local building codes. In many areas, there are restrictions on how many layers can be put on a roof before it needs to be replaced. Some cities or towns restrict the type of roof you can have. You certainly don’t want to find out after the fact that your roof violates building code.