The biggest bang for your buck. That’s what Asphalt Shingles on a roof can provide to you, the homeowner. It’s not the most durable material. Durability and longevity belongs to metal roofing and natural slate. For the value, though, Asphalt Shingles are hard to beat, especially when viewed through the prism of its low upfront cost and near-term home improvement ROI. An asphalt shingle roof can often be installed for under $10,000 on a small or mid-sized single family house. For a relatively modest upfront cost, you can expect to get at least 10 to 15 years of roof protection for your home.
A Wee Bit Of History
For a long time, slate tiles were the cream of the crop when it came to roofing a house or building. In the early 20th century, that changed. America went from using slate and cedar (wood) shakes and shingles as predominant materials for covering their homes, to what was at the time the newly unveiled asphalt shingles. The reason for this was two-fold; The new asphalt shingle was made to look very similar to the slate tile, but at a much more affordable cost. Like all things mass production, it allowed millions of homeowners to enjoy decent roof quality without the need to spend a whole lot of money on a roof. Yet, like many things associated with mass production and usage, it lead to a significant, and ongoing issue with the disposal of old asphalt shingles.
Understanding Asphalt Shingles Roofing Options
Back in the day, it used to be that asphalt roofing was rolled onto roofs. Cloth-like paper, with layer of asphalt, coated with stone granules. In the early 1900’s, the rolls were sliced into individual pieces. Add in the political pressure from the National Board of Fire Underwriters, who thought this material was much better for a home covering than the popular wood shakes alternative, and a monumental industry was born! 😉
Strip shingles, or what we call 3-tab today, used to be the standard for nearly half a century. They offer a single layer, uniform look for the roof. They are light-weight even in today’s market. But, they are considered cheap and less durable than the next step up, or what we call architectural shingles.
Architectural Shingles are thicker, heavier and offer far more variety than their predecessor. With 50% more weight than a 3-tab shingle, architectural shingles come at a higher cost. Though, the cost is easily justifiable with more durability, service lifespan and the idea that shapes of shingles can be different. Architectural shingles are also known as laminated or dimensional shingles, because there is an appearance of more depth to the roof than what 3-tab/strip shingles provide.
Many routinely refer to architectural as the premium product, but they are really middle of the road product.
Premium shingles can offer even more depth and variation. These are luxury shingles are known for their totally different look. Truly premium shingles are designed to be as durable and long lasting as possible. Here, multi-colored options exist, along with cool-roof asphalt shingles, and other cutting edge technological advancements.
To be clear, the architectural shingles are the predominant product in the asphalt shingle market today. The other two options are also being sold, and are quite popular in their own right. 3-tab makes for a great starter row on any type of asphalt shingle roof. Plus 3-tab is sufficient wherever economical considerations may outweigh quality, such as on some low-priority commercial buildings and value residential roofs. Premium shingles are deemed by many as too luxurious, but there are people willing to pay nearly twice the cost for a better designed, longer lasting roof, which the luxury shingles provide.
Another consideration which each of the three options has to do with how the product can perform during storm weather and strong wind uplift. Essentially, the cheaper the product the less wind it can withstand before the 3-tab tiles curl or are even blown off. This pertains directly to product warranty. Here’s a quick rundown:
- 3-tab shingles are rated for 60 to 70 mph wind uplift, usually holding to a 20 to 30 year product warranty
- Architectural shingles are rated for 110 to 130 mph winds, with 30 to 50 year warranties
- Premium shingles are rated for up to 110 mph uplift, and usually come with limited lifetime warranty
For more visuals and info on the three variations of Asphalt Shingles, see this page from the IKO Roofing Manufacturer’s website.
Costs and Value of Asphalt Shingles
First things first. It helps to know who the major manufacturers of asphalt shingles are. This includes:
- Owens Corning
- Sherriff-Goslin Co.
- and more
Buying the Materials
Owens Corning and GAF make their products available at mega home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. CertainTeed and other manufacturers normally offer their products through the local building supply stores aka suppliers, which generally means that their products are available for sale to contractors only.
Is Asphalt Shingle a Viable DIY Option?
While installation of Asphalt Shingles is certainly a product that a DIY’er can handle, it’s still wise to consider going with a professional contractor. Roofers, are often contracted with supply stores of some sort and buying their products in bulk, and so are likely getting shingles at a discount. Plus they can do the job much faster, handle all the waste, overcome problems during the installation much quicker, and offer warranties.
With that said, the price of just the roofing material is often conveyed in terms of bundles. A bundle amounts to about 33.3 sq.ft. As that is an odd number to keep track of, roofers usually go with a “square.” A square equals 100 sq. ft, so 3 bundles per square for 3-tab shingles, 4 bundles per square for architectural shingles, and four or five bundles per square for premium shingles. A roofing surface covering 2,000 sq. ft., would be 20 squares.
- 3-tab shingles cost about $75 to $90 per square
- Architectural shingles cost about $120 to $160 per square
- Premium shingles cost about $200 to $250 per square (and up)
Then there are the accessories like fasteners/nails, underlayment, ridge cap, ventilation, flashing, drip edge, and possibly more. These aren’t terribly expensive, but if sticking with a 3-tab shingle, then the price is closer to $125 to $150 per square for all the materials required for the job.
So, a 20 square (2,000 sq. ft.) roof would cost $2,500 to $3,000 for the materials, not including plywood or wood boards. That’s relatively low compared to most other roofing materials, and well under the $10,000 number we started with. But, that’s without the cost and the hassle of pulling the building permit, performing the tear-off, having the benefit of general liability or worker’s comp insurance. Essentially, this the bare-bone cost to expect should you decide to go the DIY route.
Understanding How a Roofing Job is Priced
When it comes to any roofing job, there are a few things that need to be determined before any material is bought, and a pro will have these down to standard operating procedure. Items like: pitch (or slope) of the roof matter in terms of how efficient the overall job will be and how much area of the roof needs to be covered. Is a tear-off of the previous roof needed? Usually, it is not, which means an extra layer of protection. Yet, if it is needed, that will likely be an added cost of about $150 per square to remove and dispose of the old roof. — A pro knows the answers to the above questions, and when he tackles the above items, he does so in a fashion that is likely the most economical. With added weight, especially with premium shingles, it is wise to understand if the structure of your home can handle the extra weight. And what is sufficient amount of material to get? If you get the exact amount, but waste even a tiny bit, you will have under bought in materials. If you overbuy, that obviously impacts cost.
It’s challenging to quote costs for roofers as that varies by location, and really how prevalent such contractors are in your area. A fair range is $250.00 to $400.00 per square for labor. So, double or even triple the earlier prices. Such that a 2000 sq. ft. roof, would be $375.00 to $550.00 per square installed, or $7,500 to $11,000 overall. The latter number is over the $10,000 figure, but a more competitive pricing would likely be closer to the $7,500 – $10,000 range.
Most roofing products will last a minimum of 10 years, and that’s being very conservative, if it is properly installed, which is what pros do. 15 to 20 years is a more fair minimum for a 3-tab shingles roof. It’s also a reasonable number for a limited warranty on the materials. Some manufacturers boast as high as 50 years material warranties, yet our research shows that to be mostly a gimmick. Then, there’s the warranty on workmanship or what the contractor is providing in terms of proper installation. If something is going wrong, it’ll usually occur sooner rather than later, as in 5 years or less. Though some contractors will think they are doing you a service with a 6 month or a full year warranty. We’d suggest you strongly consider a 5 year or longer labor warranty as the standard. If a contractor is offering you a low overall cost (say $6,000 total on our earlier numbers) with 1 year warranty, then they may not necessarily be providing you a fair deal.
Finally, it is the return on investment or ROI you get from a roof. A new roof does not have the highest ROI in terms of home improvement, whereas a kitchen renovation or an additional bathroom scores higher. But where’s the curb appeal in those projects? Where’s the long lasting, low maintenance value in those options? Both of these interior remodeling projects are going to cost well more than $10,000. For the biggest bang for your buck, a new roof is arguably offering the best ROI. You can generally translate around 70% of the cost (what you spent) into the added value of the home, assuming the roof is in very good condition or better.
Advantages of Asphalt Shingle Roof
- Economical roofing, great ROI
- Multiple options, colors, textures, technological advancements
- Ease of installation, likely very easy to find a competitively priced contractor
- Durable enough to be walked on, likely to last no less than 10 years
Disadvantages of Asphalt Shingle Roof
- Compared to other materials (i.e. metal and stone), it isn’t all that long lasting
- Disposal is huge drawback in that asphalt shingles add millions of tons to landfills annually, while other longer lasting materials either contribute far less or can be recycled more efficiently
- Unless inspected annually, cracked, curled or missing shingles can lead to repairs beyond needing a new roof covering