(855) 321-7473

M-F 9am-5pm Eastern

2020 Roofing Guide

The Ultimate Roofing Guide for 2021

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Feb 4, 2020

Putting on a new roof is one of the most expensive home repairs or renovations most homeowners have to face during their house's lifetime. In the United States, the average size of a residential roof is 1,700 square feet, with an average installation cost of $4.50 per square foot. On average, people should expect to spend anywhere between $4,707 and $24,000 for a new roof, depending on your home's size and the type of roofing material you chose.

However, a new roof can drastically improve your home's aesthetics, sustainability, and energy efficiency. If an unexpected hail storm ruins your old asphalt shingle roof this year, this ultimate Rise roofing guide will help you determine the most sustainable way to replace it!

Table of Contents

  1. What Should a Roof Do? 
  2. What Is the Difference Between Price per Square Foot and Price per Square?
  3. How Long Does a Roof Last?
  4. What Is the Most Popular Roofing Options?
  5. Asphalt Shingles 
  6. Metal Roofing
  7. Slate Roofing
  8. Composite Roof Shingles
  9. Composite Slate Roofing
  10. Terracotta Tile 
  11. Green and Living Roofs
  12. Solar Roof Shingles

What Should a Roof Do? 

Before we start to look at the pros and cons of the most common types of roofs on the market, it is crucial to have a basic idea of what homeowners should expect from their roofs. A rooftop needs to protect your home from the elements. Leaking roofs can cause significant damage to the plywood, roofing beams, attic insulation, and ceilings. According to one estimate, “water intrusion makes up more than 70 percent of construction litigation,” and roof leaks are a significant part of that figure.

A roof also plays a significant role in insulating your home from both noise and the temperature outside. A high-quality roof is an essential acoustic solution for a quieter home. It is necessary for homes located in urban areas, where noise is a problem, or in places where high winds and heavy rains can cause unwanted noise within the home.

A good roof should also offer extra insulation for your house. About one-quarter of all heat loss in a home is through the attic or roof. High-quality insulation can undoubtedly help to reduce the total amount of heat loss. However, certain types of roofs, such as green roofs, offer natural insulation capacities. A roof also provides aesthetic quality to a home. A terra-cotta tile roof placed on top of a typical suburban home will undoubtedly add a touch of elegance to distinguish the home from others on the block.

What Is the Difference Between Price per Square Foot and Price per Square?

As you begin shopping for a new roof, you'll likely come across manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and roofing installers that will quote either price per square foot or price per square. The price per square = the price per 100 square feet. For example, if you are quoted $3.50 per square foot, the price per square = $350.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

The lifespan of your roof depends on the roofing material you use and your local climate. If you reside in an area prone to inclement weather, such as snow, hail, or hurricanes, your roof may not last as long compared to roofs installed in moderate climates. Tile, metal, or slate roofs often last for more than 50 years. Wood shake and fiber cement shingles last 25 to 30, and asphalt or composite roofs last 15 to 20 years. It is common for architectural asphalt and composite to last about 30 years.

What Is the Most Popular Roofing Options?

At least seven out of every ten American households have asphalt shingle roofs. However, other roofing options are becoming increasingly attractive and cost-competitive. Below, we briefly look at some of the pros and cons of the most popular roofing options in the country.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs

Asphalt Shingles 

There are several reasons why asphalt shingle roofs are the most popular roofing option on the market. Asphalt shingles are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and can last for 10-15 years or more. They also provide adequate protection from the elements and are relatively resistant to high winds and extreme weather.

On the downside, asphalt shingles are significantly less durable than other types of roofing options. Even the most well-protected asphalt shingle roof will last for 20 years at most. Consequently, this means that homeowners can expect to change their roof at least once during their lifetime and possibly more often. From a sustainability perspective, asphalt shingle roofs are a petrochemical industry product and come with a sizeable carbon footprint. On the plus side, asphalt shingles are recyclable, and the asphalt content can be converted into pavement for roads and driveways.

How Much Do Asphalt Shingles Cost?

Asphalt shingles are often viewed as the least expensive roofing option, with an average price per square foot of $3.50 installed. Homeowners with an average roof size of 1,700 square feet can expect an asphalt roof to cost approximately $5,950‬.

Metal Roof

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are among the most durable roofing options on the market and can easily last for 50-60 years or more. Most homeowners will only have to think about installing a roof once in their life with this expected lifespan. The upfront cost of a metal roof will almost certainly be more expensive than asphalt shingles. However, because it is a one-time investment, a metal roof can be cheaper than asphalt shingles in the long term. Galvanized steel metal roofing usually comes with a zinc coating, virtually eliminating the possibility of rust occurring.

The main downside of metal roofing is that the mining of steel and zinc can lead to a relatively high embodied energy footprint for this roofing option. Fortunately, many metal roofing manufacturers incorporate large amounts of recycled metal into their products, thus reducing the need for mined minerals.

How Much Does Metal Roofing Cost?

According to one estimate, the average cost for metal roofing is about $10.00 per square foot, which would come out to roughly $20,000 for a 2,000 square foot home.

Slate Roof

Slate Roofing

Slate roofs are made from natural rock mined and cut into square or rectangle shingles with virtually zero additives. Slate has been a popular choice for cathedrals, libraries, and homes for centuries.

While they can easily last 125 to 200 years and require very little maintenance, the cost to quarry, produce, and transport is high. They can also be quite fragile during installation. Many homeowners wishing to install a slate roof onto an existing home might have to reinforce their roof structure with extra beams and support. Of course, slate roofs are charming and add an unmistakable aesthetic quality to the house.

How Much Does Slate Roofing Cost?

The average cost of material and installation ranges from $22.00 to $43.00 per square foot. This does not include potential structural changes that may be required for load-bearing.

Enviroshake Composite Roof Shingles
Composite Roof Shingles. Photo Credit: Enviroshake

Composite Roof Shingles

Composite roofing is available in shingles and shakes and can be made to look like almost any other type of roofing material on the market. The most common roofing materials replicated by composite roofing are slate, wood, or terracotta roofing. Composite shingles are usually made with asphalt, fiberglass, and recycled paper products and are available in a wide range of colors. Keep an eye out for manufacturers that use recycled materials during their manufacturing process. Composite roofs can last between 30-50 years if installed properly.

How Much Do Composite Roof Shingles Cost?

While composite roof installation costs are similar in their respective markets, the composite roof shingles' cost can vary greatly depending on location, manufacturer process, materials used, and quality. Once installed, the average cost of a composite roof in the United States can range between $8.50 to $12.50 per square foot.

Certainteed Symphony Synthetic Slate Roofing
Synthetic Slate Roofing. Photo Credit: Certainteed

Composite Slate Roofing

Composite slate roofs look almost identical to real slate roofing but can cost significantly less. Many come with 50-year warranties and are manufactured to last 100 years. Composite slate roofs are water-resistant, fire retardant, durable, and lighter in weight than slate roofing. Many composite slate roofing shingles are made using recycled material, so make sure to ask the supplier about the manufacturing process and materials.

How Much Does Composite Slate Roofing Cost?

Composite slate can be purchased for $3.50 to $4.00 per square foot on average. Installation is often $6 per square foot; however, this installation cost varies from city to city.

Terra Cotta Tile Roof

Terracotta Tile 

When people think of Mediterranean villas, the first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful copper color of the terracotta tile roofs. Entire villages are defined by this distinctive aesthetic of white walls and orange roofs. Besides being beautiful, however, terracotta roofing is considered sustainable as they are made from fired bricks. Terracotta roof tiles also enjoy a long lifespan and are made to last 50 to 75 years.

How Much Does Terracotta Roof Tile Cost?

Like slate roofs, though, terra cotta tiles are heavy and expensive. Terracotta ranges from $2 to $10 per square foot and is available in several styles, including Flat, Pantile, Spanish, Roman, French, Riveria, and Barrel Tile. The installation of Terracotta tiles ranges from $8 to $15, which is dependent on style. One estimate finds that a 2,000 square foot home might spend between $25,000 and $45,000 for a new terracotta tile roof.

Houses with Garden Roofs

Green and Living Roofs

Green or living roofs are specialized roofs that incorporate vegetative material on the roof surface. Usually, an impermeable membrane covers the roof sheathing, covered with a lightweight substrate where plants are grown. Imagine a roof exploding in color with flowers, shrubs, and other unique vegetation. These types of roofs are not only aesthetically pleasing but also reduce your heating, and cooling load as the growing medium offers superior insulation. Green roofs do require optimum roofing angles to facilitate drainage and stable support structures. When installed incorrectly, they can lead to leaks that could damage the structure of your home.

How Much Do Green Roofs Cost?

The average extensive green roof costs $10.00 per square foot, while the average intensive green roof costs $25.00. Annual maintenance can also be estimated at around $1.00 per square foot of roof space. Intensive green roofs allow larger plants than extensive as they have a deeper soil system to accommodate roots.

Tesla Solar Roof
Photo Credit: Tesla, Inc.

Solar Roof Shingles

Instead of placing solar panels on top of the roofing material of your choice, why not make shingles that act as mini-solar panels? The company Tesla recently released its solar shingles, an innovative roofing option incorporating clean, renewable energy into the roofing material that protects your home from the elements. Tesla solar shingles look like slate or asphalt shingles, which is a significant benefit for homeowners who dislike the look of regular rooftop solar panels.

How Much Does a Solar Roof Cost?

The main drawback of solar shingles is the price. According to one estimate, “the new roof design will cost around $42,500 for a 2,000-square-foot roof with 10 kW of solar capacity before tax credits (or about $21.25 per square foot).” That might sound like a lot of money for most homeowners. However, this is the only roofing option that can pay for itself in energy savings.

The bottom line is that the best type of roof for your home in 2020 will largely depend on your budget, the style of your home, and the sustainability objectives that you wish to incorporate into your home. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-06-04T02:50:33+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.