Shingles Looking Worn? A Complete Cost Guide to Replacing Your Roof

You can expect your typical asphalt-shingle roof to last about 20 years, though climate factors like high humidity, heavy winds, and buckets of rain will cut that lifespan short. When you confirm your roof needs replacement — either by its age, an inspection, or signs of wear and tear — don’t delay this project.

An aging roof can decrease your property value and cause a host of other side effects, including attic leaks, poor ventilation (which may lead to paint blistering and mold inside the home), and high energy bills. So, how much does it cost to replace a roof?

Here’s the short answer for you: Roof surfaces are measured in squares. The average roof in the U.S. is 17 squares, or 1,700 square feet. Most contractors will charge between $3.50 and $5.50 per square foot, which means a 1,700-square-foot roof would likely cost between $5,950 and $9,350.

According to HomeLight’s Fall 2019 Top Agent Insights report, which surveyed 435 participating top agents across the nation, the estimated cost of a roof replacement is $11,992 — with an impressive 94% return on investment.

But quotes can vary depending on your chosen roof material and location. In this guide, we’ll break down the variables that go into this project and provide pricing insights from professional roofing companies to help you create a realistic budget and alleviate any unwelcome sticker shock.

An image of a red roof to demonstrate how much it would cost to replace a roof.
Source: (Vitaly Muravev / Unsplash)

Roof replacement cost: a general overview

While there’s no substitute for a personalized quote from a licensed contractor, plenty of online sources provide cost ranges for roof replacements. Let’s take a look at what a few of the most reputable home improvement cost aggregators on the web have to say:

Source: HomeAdvisor

  • Average roof replacement cost: $5,402-$11,082
  • Average cost per square (100 square feet of roof): $250-$1,300 (labor and materials)
  • Average cost per square foot: $1.50-$3.00 (labor)
  • Low and high end roof replacement cost range: $1,000-$45,000

Methodology: HomeAdvisor gathered actual project costs from 43,847 of its members to calculate these roof replacement estimates.

Source: Thumbtack

  • Average roof replacement cost: $4,700-$9,200
  • Average cost per square (10’ x 10’): $65 to $350 (asphalt shingles)
  • Average cost for roof replacement for less than 1,000 square feet: $4,725
  • Average cost for roof replacement for 1,000-2,000 square feet: $9,192

Methodology: Thumbtack’s roofing cost estimates are based on data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), U.S. Department of Energy, and Consumer Reports.

Source: Fixr

  • National average roof replacement cost: $7,875
  • Average range: $5,250-$10,500
  • Average cost per square foot: $4.50
  • Low and high end roof replacement cost range: $3,500-$12,000

Methodology: To gather and compile pricing info for its cost guides, Fixr uses a wide variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites.

Source: HomeGuide

  • Average roof replacement cost: $7,211
  • Average range: $4,707-$10,460
  • Average cost per square (100 square feet of roof): $400-$550
  • Low and high end roof replacement cost range: $3,240-$30,000

Methodology: HomeGuide tracks millions of cost estimates that homeowners receive from local contractors, and then shares the average of those prices.

What determines the price of a new roof?

As we’ve seen in the estimates above, the high and low ranges for an average roof replacement cost seem miles apart. That’s because there are so many different factors that come into play when calculating a quote — it’s not as simple as taking some measurements and buying a certain number of shingles. So, what are the biggest cost drivers?

Materials

When you think of what makes up a roof, shingles spring to mind, but building a roof requires an array of additional materials. These include components like the underlayment, an ice and water shield, ridge vents, plywood, and flashing. All of these features should be included in the project quote and warranty.

And while asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material in the U.S., you’ve got options. If you opt for wood, metal, tile, or another material, that could cause your price to go up or down (we’ll dive into the different types of shingles further in depth below.)

Labor and installation

Pat Jewell, founder of top-rated Capitol Improvements Roofing in Bowie, Maryland, notes that the construction industry is currently facing a shortage of skilled workers willing to install roofs, which is a dangerous and difficult job.

According to a study commissioned by The Roofing Alliance, 90% of U.S. roofing contractors faced labor shortages during the past year. “This will continue to raise prices, as workers are worth more now than ever to companies in our field,” says Jewell.

Ami Feller with Feller Roofing in New Braunfels, Texas, estimates that about 30% of her price goes to materials, 30% is allocated to labor, and 40% is for overhead (and hopefully profit).

Pitch of the roof

The pitch of a roof — another term for its slope or incline — is the number of inches it rises vertically for every horizontal foot. For instance, if a roof increases by six feet for every horizontal foot, it has a 4:12 pitch. According to Omni Calculator, roof pitches can be broken down into four general categories:

  • Flat roofs will usually have a pitch from 1/2:12 to 2:12 (from 4.2% to 16.7%). These will generally be cheaper, because they’re safer and easier to install.
  • Low-pitched roofs are below 4:12 (33.3%). These will typically cost a little more than flat roofs, but are usually still walkable.
  • Conventional roofs have a pitch ranging from 4:12 to 9:12 (33.3% to 75%). These are generally safe to walk on. They are the easiest ones to construct and they are safe to walk on.
  • High-pitched roofs can be as high as 21:12 (175%), and will be more expensive due to the added safety equipment and precautions.

“If the roof is steep, we have to charge more because there are safety protocols like harnesses that have to be worn, and it slows down the install process as compared to a simple roof that would be walkable,” Jewell explains.

Height of the roof

Even if a roof has a walkable pitch, its height off the ground will also influence the overall costs. A higher roof, for example, will drive up the costs due to the equipment required.

“Height affects costs because we have to carry a 40’ or even a 50’ ladder,” explains Jewell. “Plus, the crew wants to be paid more for the added danger and difficulty of installation.”

Paul Murray, assistant manager of Suretop Roofing in Raleigh, North Carolina, says they consider a roof to be high if the gutter line is over 15 feet off the ground.

Unknown wood costs

Just as with any major home renovation, you won’t know exactly what you’re getting into until the project gets underway — in this case, until the old roof is peeled off to see what’s been happening underneath.

Every roof has an underlayer of decking, or sheathing, that provides a foundation for the shingles or other roof material. If the wood has rotted from exposure to moisture and needs to be replaced, that can drive up the cost of the roof. That’s especially true now, as the price of lumber has skyrocketed 188% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.

Roof layers

One of the most crucial steps in a roof replacement is removing all of the old layers, which allows the installer to inspect the decking for water damage and rot before the new roofing system is installed.

“Additional roof layers result in more labor required to remove them, which increases the labor cost overall,” explains Brandon Foote, the owner of Advanced Roofing and Construction, a highly rated roofing company in Alabama. “The additional weight also increases the cost of removal and disposal of the shingles, especially if a commercial dumpster is used on a job site.” Feller’s company charges an extra $15/square more for each layer that needs removed.

And if you’re wondering whether you can save money by just having the new roof installed on top of the old layers, the experts agree that’s a bad idea. “It’s always best to remove all the layers when putting on a new roof,” says Feller. “Overlaying a roof reduces the life of the new roof by approximately 50% and also negates the manufacturer’s warranty. Many reputable contractors refuse to do overlays.”

Coronavirus premium

As with almost every home renovation project, the ripple effects of the pandemic have caused roofing prices to escalate. Many homeowners took advantage of the shutdown to tackle renovations, but at the same time, many manufacturers laid off workers.

The combination of ramped-up demand and a shortage of supplies caused the cost of raw materials to spike. Jewell estimates that prices are currently up 10%-14% for materials alone. “Any construction project using wood at this time will be more costly than it was a year ago,” he says.

According to Murrary, the biggest price increase Suretop Roofing has seen is in roof decking. “In the Raleigh area, for example, the prices of OSB (oriented strand board, a stronger and thicker alternative to plywood), have more than doubled, partly due to some companies stocking up on material at the start of the pandemic and partly as a result of slower supply,” he says.

Although shingle prices haven’t shot up like plywood, Murray says it’s certainly tougher to find some colors than before COVID. “A lot of manufacturing plants cut their production down to only their most popular colors,” he notes. “I think the situation is slowly improving with getting the wide variety of colors back.”

An image of a white roof used to depict how much it would cost to replace a roof.
Source: (Saj Shafique / Unsplash)

Types of roofing

The price of a roof replacement has a lot to do with which roofing material you select. Most residential homes use one of the following types of roofs:

Asphalt shingles

In Feller’s Central Texas market, around 60% of all homes have shingle roofs. There are two main types:

  • Three-tab shingles: These are made up of three 12”-wide tabs. They usually have a 25-year lifespan and are rated for 60 mph winds.
  • Architectural or dimensional shingles: These shingles generally have a 30- to 50-year lifespan and can sustain 110 mph winds. The dimensional, contoured style mimics the look of wood-shake roofs. Feller uses dimensional shingles for 99% of her shingle installations. Her go-to is the GAF Timberline HDZ shingle.

The main advantage of shingles is that they are fairly inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to repair. “The technology is getting better and better all the time, so the sustainability and durability is increasing constantly,” Feller points out. A disadvantage of shingles is that they are more prone to hail damage.

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of an asphalt shingle roof ranges from $5,281-$10,795.

Metal

Feller estimates that 28% of her roof installs are metal. Metal roofs are generally rated for 140 mph winds. The manufacturer warranties are usually less than shingles (20-25 years), but a well-installed metal roof could actually last 50+ years.

“At least for us, metal roofs cost about twice as much as what you would pay for a shingle roof,” says Feller.

“Also, some insurance companies consider damage to your metal roof to be ‘cosmetic’ and may not cover it. If you get a metal roof, you need to ensure that you have a good installer. A metal roof is not very repairable, and if installed poorly, can be a nightmare.”

There are two types of metal roofs:

  • Screw down: This type of metal roof has exposed fasteners with rubber gaskets; the gaskets corrode over time and need to be replaced.
  • Standing seam: Standing seam roofs are constructed from interlocking panels with the fasteners concealed, and require little maintenance.

According to HomeAdvisor, the price range for a metal roof is $5,228-$14,589.

Concrete and clay tile

Only about 1% of Feller’s roof installs are made from clay and concrete tile. Although tile roofs are aesthetically beautiful and cost about the same as metal, the main challenge is that the structure of a home has to be strong enough to support the heavier weight. In most cases, it’s not possible to switch out an asphalt shingle roof for a tile roof. “Basically, the house had to have been built for it,” Feller explains.

Tile roofs can last up to 100 years if they are well installed and if the installer uses a good underlayment (preferably an ice and water shield). “The underlayment on tile roofs is critical, as the tiles may shift and water can easily get under the tiles,” warns Feller. One big advantage is that tile roofs are easy to repair: Even if you have to replace all of the underlayment, you can generally remove the tile and then reinstall it.

Per HomeAdvisor, the average cost range for a tile roof is $7,874-$23,076.

Modified Bitumen (Flat Roof)

Mod bit” is used in flat roofing applications, although it’s best if the roof has a slight pitch (1-3:12 pitch) because it is not designed to handle standing water. Only about 3% of Feller’s installations are mod bit roofs.

This type of roof comes with a base sheet and a cap sheet. It can be self-adhesive or may need to be torched down with a heat gun. Because of liability reasons, Feller says the self-adhesive application has become more popular in recent years. If both layers are installed, a flat roof has a manufacturer warranty of 15 years; with just the cap sheet, the warranty is generally 12 years.

HomeAdvisor estimates the average range for a flat roof replacement to be $3,134-$9,364.

TPO (Rubber)

About 3% of Feller’s roof installs use TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), a synthetic rubber material. This is a product designed for flat roofs that can handle ponding water (generally up to 72 hours).

“TPO used to be used primarily for commercial roofs, but we are seeing it in residential roofing more and more,” says Feller. “It generally has a 20-year manufacturer warranty and is easily repairable. It does cost more than modified bitumen, but in my opinion it’s well worth the investment.”

A rubber roof installation can cost anywhere from $6,000-$18,000, according to HomeAdvisor.

Roof replacement project: Real-life cost examples

Feller shares this breakdown of the average cost per square foot of each roof type. Keep in mind that these are 2021 prices in her Central Texas market — costs will vary based on your market and contractor.

 

  Market Share Manufacturer Warranty Avg Cost/Square Wind Rating (mph)
3 Tab Shingles 1% 25 $365.00 60
Dimensional Shingles 60% 30-50 $415.00 110
Screw Down Metal 3% 20-25 $575.00 140
Standing Seam Metal 25% 20-25 $650.00 140
Clay/Concrete Tile 1% 50 $650.00 150
Modified Bitumen 3% 12-15 $550.00 90
TPO 3% 20 $750.00 90

In Murray’s North Carolina market, a majority of the roof installations are architectural asphalt shingles. Below are his estimates for what a homeowner can expect to pay for this type of roof based on their roof size:

 

Surface area of roof Replacement shingles (accounting for waste) Roof pitch Estimated price
22 squares 24 squares (2,400 square feet) 5:12 (low roof, ranch-style home) $7,800
27 squares 30 squares (3,000 square feet) 8:12 (high roof) $9,800
29 squares 32 squares (3,200 square feet) 10:12 (steep slope roof) $11,400

Larger homes with roof areas around 40 squares and up will often be closer to the high teens and low $20K range, Murray says.

Feller also provided the below example of a quote she sent to a client for a 2,756-square-foot roof. In this example, she took 42.67 squares, which was the total square footage of the roof plus 15% waste, rounded up to the nearest third of a square.

The price was $415 per square, and then she added $600 for the chimney cricket (not all roofs have chimneys). Other charges were added for steepness, skylights, carpentry work, etc. The main roof includes all the standard roof components: underlayment, drip edge, ice and water shield, field shingle, ridge cap shingles, starter shingle, nails, pipe jacks, other flashings, ventilation, sealant, and spray paint (for pipe jacks).

An image of a chart depicting how much it would cost to replace a roof.
Source: (Feller Roofing)

Tips to maximize your roof replacement

With such a major home improvement, you’ll want to take steps to protect your investment. Below are some tips from the experts on how to get the most out of your roof replacement:

Get three quotes:

Jewell says it’s best to shoot for the middle-of-the-road estimate: “You want a contractor that is small enough to maintain quality control, but big enough to provide value.”

Choose a manufacturer-certified company:

Hire a company that is certified by the manufacturer and then read their warranties carefully,” says Jewell. “If your roofing contractor doesn’t have a manufacturer certification, they cannot file warranties.” That means a roof with “50-year lifetime shingles” that’s not installed by a certified company really only has a 10-year warranty.

Go with the better shingle:

The roof on your home protects everything and everyone underneath it — it’s not the place to just squeak by on the lowest bid,” says Feller. If you’re installing an asphalt shingle roof, the experts agree that architectural is the way to go. They will generally last much longer than the old 3-tabs, and are well worth the extra investment.

Do due diligence on contractors:

Read online reviews, check BBB ratings, and ask for proof of insurance and certification. Feller recommends going to a shingle brand’s website and using their list of certified installers as a starting point.

Get a good after-market warranty:

“A roof is a long-term investment and is one of the few home improvements where homeowners get their investment back in full when they go to sell,” says Feller. “So get a great after-market warranty that you can transfer to a new owner.”

Header Image Source: (ND700 / Shutterstock)