Roof Installation Prices Guide

When it comes to installing a new roof, homeowners typically look at the overall price, without giving much thought to what goes into that number. In this guide, we will discuss how roofers come up with their numbers, and how you can determine if you are getting a fair deal.

I will first mention that you should (in most cases) choose a roofing contractor who is licensed, insured and has a good reputation with their past clients. It is important for you – the homeowner, because you will be buying a new roof for many years to come, and don’t want to replace it within a few short years.

Quality VS Price: All too often, a cheap roof means that it will NOT last you a long time, and when it leaks, a “cheap” contractor will usually not honor their warranty, and the cost of repairs or replacement will be on you. The bottom line – a roofing company needs to make money to stay in business, to be able to repair your roof if or when the need arises.

Average Roof Replacement Cost:

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Mid Range
High End

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In fact, because most contractors compete on price, cutting corners has become the norm in the industry, which for years has been torn to shreds by uninsured crews hiring illegal labor, with very little expenses. It has become immensely difficult to compete in such an environment for honest, licensed and insured roofers, who do not cut corners when installing protection for your most expensive investment – your home. In order to get enough work, even these good crews had to drop prices, and to compensate for lost profits, they too began cutting corners and reducing quality of work.

Roof Installation
How contractors determine your roof replacement price

A typical roofing contractor looks at the following factors:

  • Roof size
  • Roof slope
  • Roof complexity
  • Number of existing roofing material layers
  • New roofing material to be installed
  • Roofing underlayment and accessories
  • Material waste
  • Ventilation to be installed
  • Roof flashing to be done
  • Trash disposal costs
  • Labor costs
  • Overhead costs (insurance / advertising / trucks /cost of doing business / etc)
  • Profit

Most roofers already have all these figured out, and adjust prices for each individual job, based on these factors. A typical contractor has a base price per “square” (1 square is a roof area of 10*10′ or 100 sq. ft., and is used in the industry to simplify communication between suppliers, architects, sub-contractors and customers). On top of the base price per square they add additional factors, such as complexity of the job, amount of flashing to be done, and other items such as ventilation, etc.

What goes into the cost of new roof installation

Let’s look at an example: typical roof – a ranch house that is 26 feet wide by 48 feet long, and has a roof pitch of 5 in 12. The size of such a roof is 1350 sq. ft., and with waste of 10%, the roofer will need about 1485 sq. ft. (15 squares) of shingles or other roofing material.

Cost of materials and labor:

Whether the roofer calculates their job per square of roofing area or per square of roofing materials to be installed, the overall number should be about the same.

First, the total amount of materials is calculated. On top of materials (usually roof shingles), the roofer calculates the underlayment (felt or synthetic underlayment and/or ice and water shield), ventilation, flashing, and accessories (nails, caulking, pipe flashing, etc.) needed.

roof installation

The above items give the contractor cost of materials / square, needed for the job.

Having the cost of materials in mind, the contractor already knows how long such a roof should take to install, and how many roofers he/she will need on the job – this provides the cost of labor, including taxes and workers comp insurance.


Cost of doing business, or overhead cost is what can differ the most among roofing contractors. However, these are still similar for most licensed / insured contractors. What affects the overhead costs is the type and amount of advertising that a contractor does, office expenses, equipment / trucks / fuel, and cost of Worker’s Compensation insurance.

Worker’s Comp can range from 25% to over 40% of the payroll, depending on the state in which the company operates and past incidents. If the company had on the job injuries, the Worker’s Comp rate can jump over 10% easily.

  • Think of it this way – an installer gets paid say $20 / hr. Working full time, that would be $48,000 / year. On top of that a 40% (or $.40 per dollar of payroll) would be ADDITIONAL $19,200 per year per worker, that a contractor has to pay just for worker’s comp insurance. In Massachusetts for example, a typical Worker’s Comp rate for ROOFING, starts at around 38%, before any incidents. If there are any incidents, it can easily go to almost 50%.

Additional and UNAVOIDABLE overhead is income taxes. Uncle Sam takes 35% flat rate form any corporation, and then taxes personal income of the roofing company owner. Of course there are ways to pay a lower rate, or avoid double taxation, using S-Corp, but still, most of the time, the personal tax rate of the business owner is around 35%.


Of course, any roofer wants to charge as much as they can get away with for a roof installation. However, reality dictates its own terms.  Competition from other contractors who are uninsured, and do not carry any worker’s comp. insurance (or inadequate workers comp. such as SIDING, which is only about 13% vs. 38% for roofing) is tremendous. Contractors have to “sell” based on quality, against LOW PRICES, meanwhile, most homeowners typically look at the total price (LOWEST PRICE), without much concern for what’s included in it. With all the competition and expenses, a contractor needs to make at least 25% NET profit on each job to stay in business. They also need volume to support needed income. If volume is low, net profit must be higher than 25%.

Profit can and will vary among different roofing outfits, and will in great part depend on the volume, but once again – a roofing company that does not make money will not be around to uphold the warranty – that is just how it is.

So, how much does it cost to install a roof?

There is no magic number, and it varies greatly depending on your geographic location, as well as local economic conditions and competition. This is reflected in our roofing estimator, which calculates an “approximate” price of roof replacement. However, we can look at the formula used in our calculator to see how much an average roof would cost.

Cost of roofing materials and accessories:

1 square of Lifetime or formerly known as “30 years” architectural asphalt shingles is about $100. This is set to be increased by an average of 5-9% in the spring of 2013, as indicated by the “roofing materials price increase” notices, that suppliers are now sending out to contractors.

Underlayment and accessories cost another $40-50 / square.

Dump fees can range from $30-100 per ton (2000 lbs.) depending on where you live. 1 square of 1 layer of shingles weighs ~ 250 lbs., or 8 squares per ton. a 15 sq. roof is about 2 tons for one layer to be removed. A typical dumpster rental fee is $350 with 2-3 tons of debris allotment. If a roofer has his own dump truck, disposal cost is about 5-0-60% that of dumpster rental cost (includes salary of the driver and fuel).

Overall, material cost is about $150 / square + $350 for dumpster + $50-100 for building permit. Read our complete Asphalt Roofing Shingles Prices Guide here.

Labor cost:

If a typical roof installer gets $15/hr, and a foreman gets $20/hr, and you need say 6 guys to rip and install a 15 square roof in one day, that gives you 5 guys * $15/hr * 8 hours = $600. Add a foreman at $160 / day, gives us $780 in payroll. Add another 65% (workers comp, unemployment insurance, payroll taxes).

An average labor cost would then be $1285 to install 1 roof.

Overheads costs of a typical roofing contractor:

Lets say a roofing contractor hires 1 secretary / office manager at $18/hr, rents an office / storage for about $1,000 / month, buys liability insurance for $7,500/year, and spends $500 / month on advertising, and about $200/ month on utilities, as well as $1,000/ year in office supplies and equipment.

On top of that each truck insurance is about $1,500 / year, + $1,500 / year in maintenance and repairs.
Fuel costs for an average work truck is say $4 per gallon of diesel fuel. Having a 15 MPG, and driving 30,000 miles per year, a truck will use 2,000 gallons of fuel / year, which is $8,000 - Estimate Reroofing Cost.jpg

Lets calculate a hypothetical roofing contractor’s overhead cost:

Office manager salary: $36,000 + 18% for Workers comp, taxes, unemployment insurance = $42,800 / year.

Office / storage rental: $12,000 / year + $2,400 in utilities = $14,400.

Advertising: $6,000 / year.

Insurance: $7,500 / year.

2 Trucks: $9,500 / year * 2 = $19,000.

Office supplies: $1,000 / year.

Miscellaneous: $1,000 / year.

Total overhead cost: $91,700 or $251 each day of the year!

Figuring out total contractor’s cost to install one 15 squares roof:

Materials: $150 / square.
Labor: $86 / square ($1285 / 15 squares).
Overhead: $17 / square (assuming that a roofer does only 1 roof per day).
Dumpster + permit fees: $400 or $27 / square.

Total contractor’s cost: $4,186 to install a typical 15 squares ranch house roof, or $279 / square, before ANY profit.

If we consider that a roofer makes an average 25% NET profit on each job, before taxes, then our hypothetical roof above would yield $1,046 in profit. Total cost of such a roof would be $5,232 or $350 per square.

Average roofing costs across US and Canada:

It just so happens that in most places and according to most roofing contractors that I’ve spoken to, the average cost per square that they charge ranges between $300 and $400 / square, so our calculation of $350 / square falls right in the middle of that average.

Our roofing calculator formula is in large based on these calculations, but also takes into account additional items, such as chimney / skylight flashing, different roof slopes, houses that are 1, 2 or 3 stories high, different roofing materials, and overall  job complexity. Therefore, you will get different “prices” depending on your home’s conditions.

Other factors affecting roof installation prices across US and Canada:

Among many factors that can affect your total cost, a major one is your geographic location and local cost of living, as well as local economic conditions.

For example, $15 / hr in Boston or NYC is probably a bare minimum on which a working person can “survive” because of high rent and food / clothing prices, while somewhere in the Midwest, or recession-torn areas, $15/hr, can provide a person with a very decent level of comfort. Additionally, in urban areas, cost of materials, insurance and other overhead costs are typically higher than in suburban “away from civilization” places.

On top of local costs of living, there are many uninsured roofers, who hire illegal workers, and have a much lower overhead. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see prices for a new installed roof to be around $250-275 / square even in the Boston / NY / NJ / DC stretch.

Regional Roofing Price Differences in USRegional differences:

Although roofing prices and contractor’s cost differ depending on the region (for example in the midwest and the south, roof prices are impacted in large part by the insurance companies, as there is a lot of insurance work there, due to storms, and thus are much lower than in the northeast or the Pacific regions (see our Local Roof Prices Guide for details).

Additionally, here is a separate article about insurance work, and how it affects roofing market as a whole, the quality of work, and price levels – how insurance companies manipulate residential roofing prices

Average Roof Replacement Cost:

Low End
Mid Range
High End

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23 thoughts on “Roof Installation Prices Guide

  1. I would like to replace roof’s shingle… Cost to Install a Shingle Roof. 40′ x 20′ roof, about 1,500 sq ft.

    1. Reinaldo

      15 squares seems too much for 40×20′ roof … unless you have wide overhangs.

      You can just plug those numbers in the calculator, and it will give you approximate cost.

      We do not replace roofs or do “estimates”. This tool is merely for homeowners to estimate APPROXIMATE cost of roof replacement.

  2. My name is Bryan Parker I own my small roofing business and a 40×20 roof is only 8 squares and also depends on what yo have for pretrussions for waste I would say to get 9 square which is 27 bundles. My business is **** roofing services and am insured with photos and references available on request of every job I ever had done. I am willing to travel and would be more than happy to do it for you I charge very low prices and work with the customer. Customer satisfaction is my number one goal. If interested please call my cell at (REMOVED) or my house at (REMOVED). Thanks

    1. Bryan,

      First – you don’t know how to count! A 40×20 roof also has a slope which typically adds 15-40% to the total roof area! This is before waste.

      Second – this website is to educate homeowners – not for blatant self-advertising.

      Next time, if you do not have anything constructive to add, please spam comments elsewhere.


  3. I hired my brother in law to do my roof. He has never done a shingled roof before but wants to call himself a contractor though he is not. He spent 155 man hours to do 2272 sq feet roof and charged me $2520. They averaged 122 sq feet per 8 hour day. what would you say to him ?

  4. You are pretty much spot on here. I don’t understand why so many people want to challenge what is written here. Overhead is an important number. A quarter of my roofing business is repairing other companies mistakes that gave the homeowner a 10 year warranty and then went out of business two years after the install.

    My brother scraped all of my ceilings, retextured them and painted my entire house for the cost of the materials…..hence the reason that I didn’t look up how much it would cost to hire a drywall contractor. :)

    Thank you for informing people that might otherwise have no idea. I am going to direct my potential customers to this site so they have a better understanding.

  5. hello gordon something is wrong
    2272 sq feet / 155 hours =14,6
    14,6 x 8 hour day=116,8 sq feet per 8 hour day

  6. Quite informative and useful. It would be even more so if you added a rough cost comparison among the various roofing types, i.e. standing seam, shakes, asphalt, tile, etc..

    1. Hi Tim,

      Thank you for feedback. We are working on a material for such comparison. In the mean time, you can check out our Metal Roofing Costs guide, which covers Metal Shingles, Standing Seam, Corrugated Steel, and Stone Coated Steel roofing.

      Best regards

  7. Every person makes all prospective and cost estimation detail sheet before installing a new roof for his home. Roofing installation cost estimations conclude average material costs, individual labor productivity rates and national average hourly labor wages.

    1. Kate,
      Try getting a free roofing estimate here – not sure bout “low price”, but should be very competitive. How ever, low price usually means lower quality, so consider that.

      Good luck

  8. If your in ny state with the labor law 240-241 coverage on your GL insurance then you better Jack those numbers up on the labor end by another 50 per sq, a typical 2 story 8/12 pitch roof will go for around 450 per sq in central ny state if you properly insured.

  9. For the people looking for pricing on Flat Roofs like EPDM , TPO , PVC , the price starts with the system your taking off and what type of beck is there. If you have a structural concrete deck the price will go up on the removal process. If it’s a metal deck then the cost will go down. This is the same for labor cost to install the ISO board it’s cheaper to install over a metal deck (no pre drilling). the cost of tapered insulation is much higher then flat ISO. So it’s in posable to have a basic price per SQ every job is different. Copper standing seam as a rule on new construction using 20oz copper 8/12 pitch and Grace underpayment on the deck will average 800 per sq. Hand split cedar white cedar or red with grace underpayment and 30lb felt at each coarse will be 700-825 sq. By the way if you need someone on the Internet to give you prices your really not ready to tackle these types of projects. The comments I have made above are just my opinions and should not be used in any estimating.

  10. Hi,
    my contractor gave me a total new Timberline 30 yr roof replacement estimate for 15 1/3 squares, that includes an additional extra charge for a “high roof” of $75.00 per square. The house is 2 stories, 2000 sq ft living space. Is this amount, an extra $1,150.00, much too high? Also, NO Metal Drip Edge was installed in the rear, causing water to drain against the siding and foundation. Should the Drip Edge be included in the total roof replacement cost, (no extra charge)? Thanks.

    1. Hi Beverly,

      2 stories is not really “HIGH” … but 3 stories is. Typical up charge for 2 stories is $30-50 / sq. But this also depends on the total cost – maybe this was included in the total TWICE.

      As for drip edge – yes it should be included all around … that’s what manufacturers spec. However it’s not always installed. But, if it’s included in the front, it MUST be in the rear as well, free of charge.


  11. Beverly

    Alex is comment seems to be accurate. As far as the drip edge…that’s just poor supervision on the roofers part. Ran out of material?…couldn’t put it on because? Bottom line is, It doesn’t matter what the excuse is, they should have finished it properly. Sorry to hear about your bad experience…we’re not all bad guys :)

  12. You give a very detailed information and as a woman alone I feel if I study this I can go to a contractor without fear thank you so mu h I will put this in my favorites

    1. Hi Inda,

      Thank you. We wrote this guide exactly to help homeowners understand the behind the scene of the roofing and how not to get “screw”


  13. I tried to charge similar rates in my area but found that everyone uses the “going rate” which isn’t enough to cover my expenses let alone make a profit. I now stick to commercial work were having workers comp and liab ins is the norm and not the exception.

  14. Finally somebody that knows what I deal with on a daily basis giving estimates and they say well I talked to somebody that will do it for this and I try to explain u get what u pay for I have been in business since 96 and the only reason I can compete is because I still roof alot of my roofs along side my crew saving me 3-400 a day in payroll alone I subcontract from contractors alot to and if I can get 75.00 a sguare for most roofs I can still make a profit I do pay 1800 a month for liability and work comp nor on myself tho cant afford that but some how I still make it but the most I can get for roofs I sell on my own is about 250 pr sg homeowners just won’t pay it I wish they would c this site because they don’t have a clue what it takes to operate so I’m gonna pin this site and the next time they say I can get Joe blow to do it for this um gonna have them check out this site thank u

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