The Ultimate Roofing Cost Guide

Updated: May 24, 2020
Sunrise over a new roof

When it comes to your house, few things are more important than your roof. It protects you from rain and snow, shelters you from the heat, and keeps animals and insects out of your home. When a roof is compromised, all sorts of unpleasant things can happen to the house. Ceilings can crack, wood can rot, and entire walls can become unstable.

Simply put, if you want to maintain the integrity of your home, you must maintain the integrity of your roof.

But if you're like most homeowners, you probably have quite a few unanswered questions about roof repair or replacement.

  • How much does it cost to replace or repair a roof?
  • What types of roofing material are available?
  • Should you hire someone to do it or take on the project yourself?

In this in-depth guide, we're going to walk you through everything you need to know about roofing costs.

By the end, you'll have a firm grasp on the many details surrounding roofing replacement or repair.


Let's dive in.

Factors Affecting The Cost Of Roofing

Before we look at specifics, it's important to realize that there are a number of different factors that influence the overall total costs of roofing replacement or repair. Each of these factors must be taken into consideration when calculating total roofing cost.

Factors include:

  • Size of the roof
  • Pitch of the roof (angle/steepness)
  • Type of roofing materials used
  • Location of the house
  • Building codes
  • Chimneys, ventilation pipes, skylights, etc.

If a house is being reroofed, all the original roofing must be removed, which is an additional cost. If, after all the old roofing material is removed, structural issues with the roof are discovered that adds more to the total cost.

Average Costs For Roofing

According to data from Home Advisor, roofing costs average as follows:

  • Total Cost = $5,346 - $10,620
  • Roofing Materials = $100 - $1,000+ per square (10x10 area) depending on the chosen material
  • Roofing Labor = $1.50 - $3.00 per square foot
  • Old Roof Removal = $1 - $5 per square foot
  • Repair To Structural Damage = $1,000 - $10,000 depending on damage

Obviously, the final total cost will vary significantly depending on all of these factors that are specific to your home and your roof.

Editor's note: It's important to realize that there are factors that have a strong impact on pricing which do not depend on your roof.

One of those factors is that the price to fix or replace a roof can vary dramatically by state, by city, and even by the neighborhood within a city. Labor costs, regulations, rent, insurance and other costs that affect contractors' bottom lines vary from location to location. You should expect contractors pass those costs on to their customers.

A second factor is that you may encounter a contractor that is highly motivated for work and another contractor that has more work than they can handle. One contractor may shrink their profit margin to attract work, while the other might pad their margins.

The takeaway from these factors is that average cost is simply a starting point. At the end of the day, assuming that you are hiring someone to do the work, you're going to be best served by getting quotes from multiple contractors.

Let's look at each of the above costs in a bit more depth.

Size And Pitch Of The Roof

Most roofing professionals bid on roofing jobs by the square, with one square equaling 10 x 10 area. The average roof in the United States is around 17 squares (1,700 square feet).

Obviously, a larger roof will be more expensive to replace. More roofing materials and labor are required, both of which can significantly drive up the price.

A particularly steep roof is more difficult to work on and requires additional safety precautions, which can increase the overall cost by as much as 20%.

Types of Roofing

Now let's get into more specifics regarding roofing costs. One of the biggest factors that will determine the overall cost of a roof replacement or repair is the cost of the roofing materials. There are a large variety of roofing materials available from which homeowners can choose.

These materials include:

  • Asphalt - $3.60 / square foot
  • Vinyl - $4.40 / square foot
  • Foam - $4.50 / square foot
  • Rubber - $6 / square foot
  • Wood Shake - $8 / square foot
  • Metal - $8 / square foot
  • Slate - $14.80 / square foot
  • Concrete - $15 / square foot
  • Clay - $15 / square foot
  • Solar - $21.85 / square foot


So, with these numbers in mind, the cost of a new asphalt shingle roof on a 2,000 square foot house would be around $7,200. A metal roof would be much more expensive, at approximately $16,000. A solar roof would be the most expensive, topping out at around $44,000.

Usually, the roofing materials make up about 40% of the total roofing cost.

Roofing Installation Labor

While the cost of roofing labor can vary depending on the factors involved, it generally ends up being somewhere between $1.50 - $3.00 per square foot or $150 - $300 per square. Labor costs can increase if there are complexities with the roof (difficult angles, etc.) or the roof is especially steep.

In most cases, labor makes up about 60% of the total roofing cost.

Old Roof Removal

Before a roof can be replaced, the old roof must be removed. On average, this costs between $1 to $5 per square foot, or $100 to $500 per roofing square. The total cost depends on how difficult it is to remove the existing roof, as well as how easily the old roofing materials can be disposed of.

Repairing Damages

If there is structural damage underneath the old roof, that must be repaired before the new roof can be installed. This can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the severity of the damage.

For example, let's say that water has leaked through the roof and damaged the underlying insulation. The insulation would need to be replaced at a cost of $0.45 - $1.25 per square foot and an additional $0.95 per square foot for labor. These types of expenses can add up quickly.

Total Roofing Costs

Now, let's bring all these costs together to get a feel for how much it would cost to fully remove and replace a roof. For the sake of this example, we'll use a 1,500 square foot roof and a $2.50/square foot removal cost.

Material Total Removal Cost Total Material + Labor Cost Total Cost
Asphalt $5,000 $5,400 $10,400
Vinyl $5,000 $6,600 $11,600
Foam $5,000 $6,750 $11,750
Rubber $5,000 $9,000 $14,000
Wood Shake $5,000 $12,000 $17,000
Metal $5,000 $12,000 $17,000
Slate $5,000 $22,200 $27,200
Concrete $5,000 $22,500 $27,500
Clay $5,000 $22,500 $27,500
Solar $5,000 $32,775 $37,775

Note: these costs don't take into account variables such as an excessively steep roof, structural damage underneath the roof, or construction permits. Those costs should also be factored into the total cost.

Do You Need A New Roof?

So how can you tell if you need a new roof? There are a number of signs that indicate that something is amiss with your roof and that you either need to repair it or replace it.

Look For Leaks

The primary indicator that your roof is compromised is water damage. If you see water marks on or water dripping down through a ceiling underneath a roof, that's a sure sign that, at a minimum, your roof needs to be repaired. However, signs of water don't necessarily mean your entire roof must be replaced. Often the solution is as easy as replacing some damaged shingles, repairing a crack, or putting in flashing to keep water away from places where water is likely to leak.

To determine the extent of the damage to the roof, you need to identify the source of the leak. When looking for a leak, you need to keep in mind that water often drips at a different spot from where it enters. When water comes through the roof, it usually follows a rafter or stud and then drips from the end of it.

If the framing of your house is visible in your attic, you can simply follow the leak up the wood to the location where it enters through the roof. If the attic is finished and the framing covered by drywall, you'll need to first cut away the drywall and then trace the leak to its origin.

After identifying where the water is entering, you can examine the exterior of the roof to see if you can spot the cause (damaged shingles, compromised flashing, etc.)

If you are unable to determine the source of the leak, you will need to have a roofing contractor inspect the roof. After the inspection, they can recommend a course forward, whether that's simply repairing the leak or replacing the entire roof.

Even if you do identify the source of the leak, you should let a licensed professional handle the repairs. Clambering about on your roof can be unsafe and should be left to those with the proper experience and safety gear.

Other Indicators Of Roof Damage

In addition to leaks, there are other indicators that your roof is not in the best shape. If shingles are damaged or missing, leaks are sure to follow at some point. The total age of the roof can also guide your thinking. Generally speaking, asphalt shingles last about 20 years. If your roof is older than 20 years and not under warranty, it may be time to start thinking about having it replaced. If a leak occurs, it can damage the underlying wood which can significantly increase the overall cost of having a roof replaced.

Repair Vs. Replace A Roof

When thinking about roofing options, the first thing you need to decide is whether to repair the roof or replace it entirely. Repairs are almost always significantly cheaper than complete replacement. In fact, most repairs cost less than $1,000, which is far less than it costs to replace a roof.

Several factors should be considered when deciding whether to replace or repair.


In many cases, home insurance policies will cover some or all of a roof repair but won't cover total roof replacement. The insurance company will have an adjuster look at your roof and then estimate the total cost of the repair (including underlying framing, drywall, flooring, etc.). Money received from the insurance company can be used either for repairing the roof or toward the cost of completely replacing it.

Before starting any work, make sure you check with your insurance company so that you're clear on both your deductible and the amount of coverage you'll receive. Additionally, be sure to take into account the fact that your premiums may increase if you decide to have insurance cover the repairs.

The Existing Roof

The second factor you need to consider is the state of the existing roof. The materials from which the roof is composed will play a large factor in determining your course of action.

For example...

  • Slate - With slate roofs, it's often better to repair the roof instead of replacing it. Even significant repairs will cost quite a bit less than total replacement. You should probably only think about replacing the roof if the slate is older than 70 years.
  • Wood - Because of the short life span of wooden roofs, it's often better to replace them with more durable materials. If your wooden roof is at the point where it needs to be regularly repaired, it may be wiser to be rid of it all together.
  • Metal - Metal roofs are incredibly durable and don't usually require much repair work. If your metal roof is old enough that it does need to be consistently repaired, it may be wiser to simply replace it. If, however, it has just been damaged by an impact (like from a branch), a repair is probably more than enough.
  • Asphalt - Asphalt roofs (by far the most common type) present some unique challenges when deciding between repairing or replacing. Asphalt roofs can be repaired repeatedly, but asphalt also degrades much faster than other roofing materials. Ultimately, the choice boils down to the accumulated cost of regular repairs versus the total cost of replacing the roof.

If you're unsure of the quality of your existing roof, an independent roofing inspector can be a great help. They can give you objective advice on actions you can take to increase the life of your roof and when it may be best to replace your roof altogether.

Shopping For A Roof And Roofer

If you decide to install a new roof, you need to start the process of selecting both the type of roofing you want and the roofer to install it.

Choose Your Roofing

When choosing your roofing material, there are three primary factors to consider: cost, durability, and aesthetic. The aesthetic element is highly subjective and depends on a person's particular tastes. However, cost and durability should be weighed against each other.

Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice because they're relatively cheap, simple to install, and available in a large variety of colors. On the flip side, asphalt shingles have a shorter life slate, metal, or tile. You'll certainly pay quite a bit more for a slate, metal, or tile roof, but if you're going to be in your house for many years, it may be worth the investment.

When selecting your roofing, be sure to scrutinize the warranty carefully. Some warranties may cover both the cost of new shingles and the labor to install them, while others may only cover the cost of new shingles. Additionally, some warranties specify that they only cover the depreciated value of a roof, which means that coverage decreases as your roof ages.

Choose Your Roofer

Once you've narrowed down your roofing choices, find at least local licensed installers to give you quotes. Reputable contractors will not charge for these quotes -- if a contractor asks you to pay, call a different contractor.

Finding contractors can be done in several ways.

Our preferred approach is to ask friends and neighbors for references. They can often provide you with helpful, objective information regarding their particular experiences with local roofers. And, if a roofer knows that you are a big believer in word of mouth references, they're more likely to do a good job for you since they know you'll tell others about your experience.

Going a bit farther afield, there are often Facebook groups made up of community members where people ask for recommendations for home improvement contractors.

When word of mouth isn't an option (or when you need quotes from one or two more contractors and you have exhausted your referral options), you can search in Google or Bing for “roofing contractor near me”. This will return not only contractors but websites that review local contractors.

Editor's note: It's particularly important that you find licensed installers as many roofing manufacturers will only honor their warranties if their products are installed by a licensed roofing contractor.

Before selecting a roofer, be sure to get quotes from at least three different contractors. Though the cost of the roofing materials should be consistent across contractors, the cost of labor and other materials can vary greatly. One bid may include the cost of removing everything all the way down to the roofing trusses, which requires a significant amount of labor and the installation of new sheathing and roofing felt. Another bid may assume that the new shingles will be installed directly on top of the old ones, which is far less expensive.

This highlights the fact that it's crucial that the bids be easily comparable to each other, both in terms of the cost of the roofing materials and the labor. Every quote you receive should be broken down into the individual costs: new roofing material, labor to install the new materials, and removal of old materials. Also ask for contingency quotes if there is damage to the underlying structure.

Editor's note: Roofers are often hesitant to break down their quotes into individual costs. They fear that homeowners may use that as an opportunity to negotiate down the price.

For example, imagine that they quoted a price for shingles and the homeowner went out and found a cheaper price for those same shingles. In the homeowner's mind, the roofer should now be willing to reduce the price. However, the roofer may have buried some of their profit margin in the materials. To reduce the price on those materials means that they have to reduce their profit margin.

It's wise to ask a contractor to break the bid into its components -- but, don't take a bid off the table if the contractor refuses.

Before you select a roofer, ask them for references. This can provide you assurance that they have successfully replaced roofs in the past.

Finally, consider reading online reviews of roofing contractors. This gives you yet another perspective on those you're considering hiring. However, take reviews with a grain of salt. Every professional that's been in the business for long will have had customers that aren't happy. Generally speaking, those customers will be the most motivated to leave a review. One or two negative reviews should not disqualify a contractor. Better than considering those reviews to disqualify a roofer, ask your roofer up-front about them. The way they handle negative press will say a lot about their professionalism.

DIY Vs. Hiring A Professional

If you're skilled in home repair and handy with tools, you may be toying with the idea of replacing your roof on your own.

Of course, you can save a significant amount of money if you do roofing work yourself. The average cost to repair a roof on your own is somewhere between $2,500 to $5,000, while the average cost to hire a professional roofer can run anywhere between $5,000 - $10,000.

However, if you choose to do a roof replacement on your own, you need to be aware of a number of complications you may encounter.

You may discover that the structure underlying your roof may be damaged, requiring additional repairs. You may unintentionally use the wrong products on your roof. You may end up tearing the existing roof off only to discover that there is a delay in delivering the new shingles, leaving you with an uncovered roof. On top of all this, you're forced to take safety risks as you clamber about your roof.

This is why, in most circumstances, it's wiser to hire a professional to replace your roof. They can keep the project on pace, ensure all the proper products are used, adjust for any additional damage, and take all the necessary safety precautions.

Special Roofing Projects

There are some circumstances where roofing costs will differ significantly from standard costs.

Attic/Loft Conversion

If you have unused attic space, you may consider transforming it into a livable area. This can only be done if there is minimally 70 square feet of floor space and ceilings at least 5 feet high. At least half of this are must have ceilings that are seven feet high.

If your attic ceilings aren't that high, you'll either need to install dormers (windows which raise the ceiling and increase floor space) or change the structure of your roof. Installing dormers can cost anywhere between $2,500 to $20,000. Altering the structure of your roof can cost more than $40,000.

Solar Roof

Installing a solar roof allows you to generate your own electricity, which can save you a significant amount of money over the years.

A Tesla solar roof costs approximately $21.85/square foot, which puts the total cost for a roof at somewhere between $52,000 and $70,600. Additionally, you have to purchase two Powerwall batteries for $17,100.

Offsetting these costs are:

  • Free electricity generated - Approximately $49,000 over 30 years
  • Tax credit - $18,000 (Federal Solar Tax Credit = 26% of the total cost of any solar roof)

This puts the total cost for the roof at only around $2,100 (not including labor) over 30 years, although a significant investment is required up front. Labor costs typically run somewhere between $8,000 - $10,000.

Using Roofing Calculators

A roofing calculator allows you to estimate the cost of replacing your roof. You enter in a number of variables and then the calculator estimates how much you'll have to spend. These variables include:

  • Size of roof
  • Slope of roof
  • Presence of skylights or chimneys
  • Ridge vents
  • Overall complexity of roof
  • Whether the existing roof will be torn off
  • Number of levels
  • Chosen roofing material
  • Region (depending on the country in which you live)

Many roofing calculators will provide you with a low, medium, and high cost estimate to give you the full picture of what you might expect to pay.

Roofing Cost By Structure Type

Obviously, the total roofing cost is going to vary by the type of structure being roofed. Smaller structures will cost significantly less than a full roof. Here is what you can expect to pay for some common structures.

Note: The average prices below are based on using asphalt shingles ($3.60/square foot) and an old roof removal cost of $1.50/square foot.

Garage Roof Cost

The average cost to replace a garage roof (400 square feet) is around $2,040, with larger garages costing more and smaller garages costing less.

A one-car garage will be approximately 12' x 12' and will run somewhere around $735 for removing old roofing and installing new asphalt shingles. A three-car garage will be approximately 36' x 24' and will probably cost around $4,400 for removing old roofing and installing new asphalt shingles. If more expensive materials, such as metal or slate, are used, the cost will increase significantly.

Patio Roof Cost

The average size of a living room patio is 16' x 18', or 288 square feet. The average size of an outdoor dining patio is 12' x 18', or 168 square feet.

This puts the average cost of putting on a patio roof at around $600. This will vary depending on the materials used and whether the existing roof needs to be removed.

Shed Roof Cost

A garden shed is typically around 120 square feet (10' x 12'). The cost to put on a roof will run somewhere around $430, plus or minus based on materials used. Removing an old roof will cost approximately $180 more.

Townhouse Roof Cost

If your townhouse is around 1,000 square feet, the cost of installing a new roof will probably be somewhere around $5,100.

Mobile Home Roof Cost

Typically, mobile homes are somewhere between 600 and 1,300 sq. feet. Assuming you're installing asphalt roofing, which is the most common choice by far, it will cost between $3,060 and $6,630 to remove an old roof and install a new one.

The Importance Of Comparing Roofing Quotes

As noted above, it's absolutely essential to compare quotes before making a final selection on a roofer. Ultimately, the total cost of a roofing project is going to depend to a large degree on the services provided by the roofer.

As you gather quotes, be sure that -- to the degree possible -- they can be compared on an apples-to-apples basis. Ideally, every quote should be itemized so that you know precisely what the roofing contractor will be providing and what they'll be charging. Ask for every quote to be broken down into the following categories:

  • Roofing material cost
  • Installation cost
  • Old roof removal cost (if roof is being removed)
  • Cost of repairing underlying structure if necessary

Under installation costs, it's important that you're clear on exactly what the contractor will be doing. Will they be stripping everything off first or just putting the new shingles directly on top of the old ones?

By doing your due diligence on the front end of the roofing process, you can save yourself a lot of problems on the back end.

Tips To Follow When Looking At Roofing Costs

As you navigate the process of getting a new roof installed, consider following these tips.

Hire A Roof Inspector First

Unless you know exactly what to look for, it can be difficult to determine why you're having problems with your roof. A roofing contractor can certainly help you identify the problems, but they also have a distinct interest in getting you to purchase a new roof. It's tough to believe that their opinion is unbiased.

An independent roof inspector can provide you with an objective opinion regarding the overall state of your roof and can give you sound recommendations about the steps you should take. Most roof inspectors only charge a few hundred dollars, making it a wise investment.

Check Your Warranty

Before you shell out a large chunk of change for a new roof, check the warranty on your existing roof. If you don't have that information, check with the previous homeowners to see if they can give you guidance. If your home is brand new, your new home warranty might also provide you with coverage.

In fact, roofing contractors will often warranty both parts and labor for the first year of a roof's life.

Housing and Homeowners' Associations

Do you live in a townhouse, condominium or a designed neighborhood? You may have a housing or homeowners' association. If so, check with your housing association to get clarity on who's responsible for your roof. If you live in a townhouse community or something similar, you might not even be responsible for replacing your roof.

Additionally, you'll want to double check with your housing association regarding any guidelines you are required to follow, such as the type of shingle you must use on your house.

Explore Financing Options

It's no secret that putting on a new roof costs quite a bit of money. You may not be able to pay for it entirely up front. This doesn't mean you can't proceed with the project. You just need to explore the variety of financing options available to you.

Roofing companies often offer some sort of financing program or you could pay for the new roof using a credit card, although these options are probably less than ideal. You'll probably end up with high interest rates that significantly increase the total amount you end up paying.

Instead, check out home equity loans, financing offered by the government, or even incentives offered by your state for things like solar roofing.

Should You Remove Your Old Shingles?

One final consideration is whether you should remove your old shingles and then install new ones or simply have new shingles installed directly on top of the old ones. Obviously, if you can leave your old shingles on, you'll save money since the contractor won't need to remove them.

However, there are some important things to consider:

  • Regulations - Some states only allow one layer of shingles, while others allow two.
  • Damage - If your roof has sustained significant damage, it's probably best to have the old shingles removed. This allows the roofer to inspect the entire structure and make repairs if necessary.
  • Future Plans - Many inspectors will report double-layered roofs to home buyers during the home inspection. While in a seller's market it's hard to imagine that this would raise any eyebrows, it could be a different story in a buyer's market. To protect yourself, make sure that you disclose this in a seller's disclosure.

Don't Put Off Your Roofing Project

Unfortunately, roofs aren't like the human body. They don't naturally repair themselves over time. If you're experiencing problems now, you should expect those problems to get worse over time. As problems worsen, more damage is done to the house itself, which greatly increases the overall costs.

So don't wait to get your roof repaired or replaced. The longer you wait, the more you'll end up paying in the long run.

If the thought of undertaking such a large project intimidates you, start small and take it one step at a time. The first step is probably to have your roof inspected by an independent inspector. From there, you can determine if you need to repair or replace your roof and begin the process of getting quotes.

The important thing is that you get started. Both your house and your budget will thank you.