How Much Is the Percentage of Labor in a Roof Job?

Nailing shingles is a big part of the roof expense.

Nailing shingles is a big part of the roof expense.

Roofing is a major expense for any homeowner, whether you're building one for a new home or putting a new roof on your present home. The cost varies widely, depending on the slope or pitch of the roof, its square footage, the type of roofing material used and the labor required to install it. Labor costs vary by region, but nationally, as of June 2012, the median pay for roofers is $16 or $17 an hour.

Labor Is a Large Cost

Labor to install a roof varies from 30 to 60 percent of the total cost, even more for some steep roofs or materials like tile which are more labor-intensive. The type of roofing material affects the labor cost. Rubber membrane roofs are tricky to install but cover a large area quickly. Clay or slate tiles have to be installed piece by piece, so work goes slowly.

Steep Roofs Cost More

It takes more labor to install a steep roof than a low-pitch one. The square footage increases dramatically as the pitch rises; a 12/12 roof that goes up a foot for every foot of width has twice the square footage of a 6/6 roof and requires more safety gear and slower work in general. Dormers, chimneys or other obstructions on the roof also increase labor costs.

Add Removal Costs

Removing old roofing adds substantially to the labor expense. Tearing off old roofing can range from $175 to $250 per 100 square feet, depending on the type of material and pitch of the roof. Replacing damaged decking and installing new roofing paper increases the labor cost; it can cost $1 or $2 a square foot to install new decking.

Asphalt Shingles Take Less Labor

Traditional asphalt shingles on a low-slope or rubber membrane on a flat roof generally have lower labor costs. Some metal roofing may require $7 to $9 a square foot in labor, compared to $2 or $3 for asphalt shingles on a low-slope roof or $2.50 to $4.50 for rubber. Thicker and heavier shingles, such as 40-year roofing, can cost nearly $2 a square foot more to install.

About the Author

Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.

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