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Asphalt Roof Shingles - Types, Average Costs & Hiring Tips

Everything You Need to Know about Asphalt Roofs

Asphalt shingles are by far the most popular of roofing materials. By some estimates, some 70 percent to 80 percent of homes in the United States have asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are popular because they are affordable and easy to install.

Shingles are sold in many different sizes, brands and colors. Some actually look like asphalt, while others closely resemble higher-end roofing products such as slate or wood shakes. There is a significant difference in quality between brands of asphalt shingles, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase.

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The price of an asphalt shingle roof depends on the type of shingles, the size and pitch of your roof, and local labor rates, among other things. Generally, budget anywhere from $150 to $400 per square (100 square feet) installed. For a house that needs 25 squares, which is fairly typical, that works out to $3,750 to $10,000.

Types of Asphalt Shingles

There are two types of asphalt shingles: fiberglass and organic. The primary difference between the two is the makeup of the core.

  • Fiberglass shingles, the newer of the two, are coated with asphalt but have a woven fiberglass mat core. They are lighter in weight and less expensive. They have a higher fire rating and hold up better in very hot climates. They’re better for the environment, too.
  • Traditional organic shingles are popular in regions with cold weather. They have a felt-like paper core that is coated in waterproof asphalt, then top-coated with an adhesive asphalt. Organic shingles are heavier because they contain more asphalt, and they’re more expensive. They’re considered more rugged, but they’re also more absorbent, which can lead to warping.

Both types are available in architectural or three-tab styles. Architectural shingles have a heavier base mat and several layers of shingles, which makes for a multi-dimensional look. They are stronger and more attractive, yet more expensive. Three-tab shingles, which consist of one flat layer, are cheaper and easier to install.

Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Cost of Asphalt Shingles

Three-tab asphalt shingles typically cost about $140 to $320 per square, including installation. That works out to $3,500 to $8,000 for a roof that needs 25 squares. The price range is so wide primarily because the cost of labor fluctuates from one region of the country to another. Prices vary among brands, too.

Architectural asphalt shingles are a bit more expensive at $200 to $400 per square installed, or $5,000 to $10,000 for a roof that requires 25 squares.

Tear off and disposal of your old roofing usually adds about another $100 to $150 per square. Not surprisingly, removal charges will be higher if you have multiple layers of roofing.

Extras such as an ice and water protection membrane or replacement of plywood decking cost about $50 to $100 per square foot. City or town permits can run several hundred dollars.

Choosing a Contractor

While most roofing contractors are reputable, some are not. When you’re spending thousands of dollars on a roof, it’s important to weed out the companies that are inexperienced or unscrupulous. Here are some tips.

  • Ask for references - and check them. If a company can’t or won’t provide them, keep looking.
  • Make sure the company you hire is licensed and insured, and ask for proof. If there’s an accident on your property and the company is not insured, you could be liable.
  • Look for a company that guarantees its work for at least five or 10 years. The guarantee should cover any damage or defects related to the installation process. However, material defects are a separate matter - the responsibility for those lies with the manufacturer.
  • Do some background research on any company you’re thinking of hiring. Check the contractor’s track record with organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the National Association of Home Builders.
  • Ask for a written estimate that includes an itemized breakdown of all materials and labor costs.
  • Never work with a company that demands the entire fee upfront. The industry standard is to make a deposit of one-third of the total cost.

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