Why Are Asphalt Shingle Roof Installation Costs Lower than Those for Other Roof Types?

Each year, around five percent of American homeowners replace their roofs. Despite the ever-increasing options for roofing materials, the vast majority of homeowners still choose asphalt shingles.  

Keep reading now to find out why and learn what role asphalt shingle roof installation costs play in the decision-making process. 

Replacing a Roof

Replacing a roof is a big investment. It can cost anywhere from $5,000 to more than $150,000. 

Roof age and quality play a direct role in a building’s value, particularly near the time of sale. Strong, intact roofs are also a crucial part of keeping buildings from suffering costly and untimely wear and damage. 

When it comes time to replace a roof, most property owners look at the same handful of deciding factors.  

  • Cost
  • Longevity
  • Durability
  • Appearance 
  • Ease of maintenance 

Cost is inevitably a factor as most homeowners have a limited budget for the project. Longevity and durability are equally important. No one wants to have to repair or replace their roof more frequently than necessary.

Appearance also counts. Not only do homeowners want attractive homes, but they may also be required to comply with local codes or guidelines when it comes to roofing colors and materials. 

In short, they want to get an attractive roof that will last with a minimum of maintenance for the best possible cost. 

Popular Roofing Materials

Asphalt shingles are far from property owners’ only option when it comes to roofing materials. Other common roofing options include:

  • Metal roofs
  • Slate or imitation-stone roofs
  • Wood shakes or cedar shingles
  • Clay tiles

Within each of these categories, there are numerous sub-types and styles. For example, metal roofs can be made of tin, copper, aluminum, steel, or other metals. They can be installed in the form of flat sheets, seamed sheets, or shingles. 

There are also less common but up-and-coming options, such as total solar coverage, for those with the budget and inclination. 

Why Buyers Choose Asphalt

With such a wide variety of options, why do so many homeowners choose asphalt shingles? There are many reasons. 

Appearance 

Almost every Home Depot asphalt shingles section consistently carries shingles in attractive color options suitable for almost any home. Homeowners willing to look a little further afield can find even more custom colors and designs. Ordering premium shingles can expand one’s options exponentially. 

This flexibility allows homeowners to inexpensively create a clean, cohesive, and personalized look for their homes and properties. 

Durability and Longevity 

Well cared for, asphalt shingles can last up to 40 years. In mild climates, they may even last for 50 years.

Unless they are subjected to severe and damaging weather, asphalt shingles generally require little or no maintenance. When maintenance is required, it can be inexpensively done in small patches as needed. Overall, asphalt shingles offer long term protection with a minimum of fuss. 

Cost 

Compared to the longevity they offer, asphalt shingles cost surprisingly little. This makes them one of the most cost-effective roofing options available in every climate. Their affordability holds true even for homeowners with large homes and complex roof designs.

Average Pricing of Asphalt Shingles   

Roofing materials vary widely in price. Even among asphalt shingles, there are different pricing levels.

Asphalt shingles come in three primary styles. These are:

  • 3-tab
  • Dimensional
  • Premium

Within the 3-tab category, there are multiple sub-styles. For example, homeowners can purchase 3-tabs that come with built-in ice-and-water shielding, ridge vents, or distinctive flashing designs. On average, all of these variations cost between $150 and $200 per standard 10-foot by 10-foot square.  

Dimensional shingles are slightly thicker than standard shingles. They typically last an average of five years longer and cost between $225 and $300 per standard square.

Premium shingles are the most durable and last the longest. They also often come in colors and designs not available in the less-expensive shingle types. Installing premium shingles can cost between $450 and $700 per standard square.

For owners of average-sized homes, these figures can translate into total costs between $5,00 and $13,000 per roof replacement. Obviously, very large or complex buildings will cost more than smaller homes with simpler designs.

Average Pricing of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing comes in sheets, standing seam panels, or shingles. Metal roofing sheets typically come in 8-foot, 10-foot, or 12-foot sections. Custom sizes are available but are more expensive. 

Metal roofing can be flat or corrugated. It comes in an array of colors and can be painted as desired. The exact pricing of metal roofing can vary widely, as metals that are more rare or exotic will cost significantly more than standard options.

For example, copper and tin will cost notably more than steel or aluminum. Generally speaking, metal roofing materials start at $75 per standard square and can run as high as $1,000.

Sheet metal tends to create a rough-spun look, and typically costs between $75 and $600 per standard square. Standing seam panels are thought to have a “modernist” appeal and cost between $200 and $1,000 per square. 

Metal shingles look very much like other roofing shingles, but cost between $200 and $600 per standard square. When considering metal roofing, it is also important to keep in mind that the pricing can change due to changes in metal market status

For example, if the price of steel or aluminum jumps due to changes in supply or demand, the price of metal roofing can also skyrocket. So the affordability of metal roofing is much less consistent than that of asphalt shingles. 

Average Pricing of Less Common Roofing Materials 

Pricing among less common roofing materials can also be highly variable. This is true between regions and over time. Some general ranges can be relied upon for comparison, however.

To do a roof in cedar shakes, for instance, the average homeowner can expect a total cost between $13,000 and $20,500. For comparison, here are the average total roof replacement costs using other common materials:

  • Stone-covered metal tile – $11,900 to $17,000
  • Concrete tile – $13,600 to $23,800
  • Clay tile – $17,000 to $30,600
  • Organic slate tile – $15,300 to $30,600
  • Artificial slate tile – $13,000 to $20,400

It is important to note that several of these options are extremely heavy. As such, they require the roof to be reinforced before installation. Roof reinforcement costs are not included in the estimates provided. 

Depending on the type of material involved and the style of roof in question, homeowners can find that that they need between 5 and 20 percent more material than their base roof size suggests. This is due to the need to customize pieces and the resulting waste. 

How is Roof Installation Cost Determined? 

The cost of roofing material is only one factor in the total cost of a roof replacement. The other primary factor in determining roof replacement costs is labor. 

Exact labor costs can be challenging to estimate. This is because they are influenced by a variety of factors. 

Geographic Location 

Labor rates in the Northeast and along the West Coast are notoriously higher than they are elsewhere. Homeowners living in these areas can expect to pay approximately twice the price of homeowners getting equivalent work done in other areas of the country. 

For instance, labor rates in the South routinely run between $2.50 and $3. In the Northeast and Northwest, they commonly run between $5 and $7. 

Roof Design

Not all roofs are created equal. Some require roofers to take extra safety measures. Others are difficult to access, adding time and labor to the job. 

Roofs with complicated features such as skylights, vents, and chimneys can also be challenging. They multiply the amount of specialty work to be done and require additional materials, such as flashing. 

Contractors take these considerations into account when pricing a job. As a result, homeowners with particularly steep or complex roofs can expect to pay more. 

Tear Off

Best practice when replacing a roof is to remove any pre-existing shingles before laying down the new set. This provides an opportunity to assess the underlayment and make any necessary repairs. It also prevents unnecessary weight from building up on the roof supports. 

Homes with multiple layers of shingles that need to be removed take extra time and labor to strip. The added weight of the removed shingles also increases removal costs. 

Other Factors That Influence Cost

Other factors that can influence the total cost of a roofing job include shipping, permits, and extras. As with other costs, these can vary by geographic area. 

Shipping

Shipping refers to getting the required roofing materials to the property where the job will take place. Properties that are close to a supplier or in a well-trafficked area less expensive to ship to than more isolated properties.

Shipping costs typically start at $75 but can run much higher for hard-to-reach areas or particularly heavy roofing materials. Clay tiles, for instance, will cost notably more to ship than asphalt shingles. 

Permits

Some jurisdictions have restrictions in place on what types of building materials may be used for roofing projects. Many also require permits before work can begin. On average, these permits cost $150 to $400 for an average-sized roof. 

Historic buildings, complex roof designs, and other special circumstances may increase the amount of time and cost associated with permitting. 

Damage

Roofers will need to repair any damage they find on the roof before they can lay down new roofing material. Homes with heavy or extensive damage, such as the kind which can result from leaks in a roof, will take longer and cost more to complete. 

Extras

Like any job, roof replacements require tools and resources. At a minimum, these tend to include:

  • Garbage bags
  • A dumpster
  • Tarps
  • Plywood 
  • Wooden boards 

Contractors may tack on a modest fee to cover these supplies, particularly if a job requires more of them than is standard.  

Why Asphalt Shingle Roof Installation Costs Are Lowest

Asphalt shingle roof installation costs are consistently lower than those of other roofing materials. As explored above, this is the result of numerous factors.

Low Materials Cost

First, they simply cost less to manufacture and purchase. Home depot asphalt shingles and other low-cost buying options make them affordable and accessible, even for homeowners with large roofs to cover. 

Asphalt shingle roof installation costs are also kept relatively low by the fact that they are installed using standard roofing nails. No brackets, clips, or other expensive or complex hardware is required as can be the case with metal or tile roofs.

Flexibility

Second, they are suitable for all roof types. Asphalt shingles can be applied to any style of roof, regardless of the incline, shape, or design. No reinforcement of the roof or its supports is necessary. 

Ease of Installation

Third, there are fewer complications involved in how to install asphalt shingles than in many other types of roofing. Homeowners can reliably count on any good-quality roofer in their area to install them. The same cannot be said for specialty roofing materials or even less common ones such as clay tiles. 

This also means that homeowners who select asphalt shingles do not have to pay for specialized crews that command higher labor rates to install them. 

Lower Shipping Costs

Fourth, asphalt shingle roof installation costs are lower than other materials because the shingles, while heavy, typically cost less to ship than many alternatives. Since they are readily available, they do not need to be special-ordered or shipped very far. Their durability means they don’t require cost-intensive packaging or shipping arrangements, either.  

Putting Asphalt Shingles on Your Roof

Now that you understand asphalt shingle roof installation costs, you may be thinking it’s time to consider updating your roof. If so, don’t get caught using an unprepared, uninsured, or inexperienced contractor. Contact the roofing experts today and get an estimate on re-roofing your home. 

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