Woodrow Aames | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011
You probably wouldn't be reading this unless you were considering having a new roof installed. You don't want to put one in too early, but putting one on too late means risking the integrity of your home and its valuable contents. The average roof lasts around 17 years, according to the National Roofing Foundation. But the actual service life of your roof ultimately depends on three variables:
- The quality of the original materials
- The quality of the installation
- The kind of weather you've had over the years.
When determining new roofing costs, consider the best materials for your home, the total square footage of the roof you're replacing, and the prices of materials in your geographic location. Your roof size won't change, but costs of materials can vary greatly based on supply and climate.
In preparing a bid, many roofing contractors will consider the distance of your roof from the ground; the pitch, and whether that's flat, medium, steep or mansard; application difficulty of gables, dormers, valleys and cut-ups, and materials. Another consideration is whether you need the old roof torn off or stripped.
Common roofing materials
Prices for various materials quoted are estimates for a 1,700 to 2,100-square-foot roof with a gentle slope. Estimates represent a price range that will vary by region.
- Asphalt shingles: $1,700-$8,400
The least-expensive and most-common option, according to This Old House. Shingles come in an assortment of colors and with guarantees of up to 30 years.
- Metal: $11,900-$24,200
A good choice for a snowy climate. Steel is the most durable, but copper is more attractive. Add $10,000 to the above price estimates for copper. Both frequently come with 50-year warranties.
- Wood shake or shingles: $12,600-$18,900
Try cedar wood for the best results. Pine is another popular wood choice. Wood is pricey, requires expert installation and regular maintenance, such as stains, coatings and fire retardants.
- Clay tile: $11,900-$20,100
Clay holds up well to weather, insects and fire, making it a good choice for the Southwest. Installation can be extremely labor-intensive, as the roof is heavy. You may get up to 80-year warranties.
- Slate: $11,900-$18,900
Slate is durable, but must be installed by a qualified mason. Done correctly, slate roofs can last more than 200 years.
Estimates for a new roof
Get at least three estimates before narrowing down your choices. You can secure estimates from local roofing contractors by completing the form on this page. Ask around at home improvement stores or contact local builders to determine the optimal materials for your climate. Remember: contractors have some leeway in offering you a total price for labor and materials.