If the inside of your house is as weepy during a rainstorm as your Aunt Cecelia is when she watches a sappy movie, you know it's time to fix the roof. Even if things haven't gotten that far, sooner or later you'll need to replace the roof and you'll almost certainly be slapping asphalt shingles on it when you do. They're the most common roofing, because they're attractive, inexpensive and can last up to 30 years. You'll get asphalt roofing priced by the square, 100 square feet of roof, for both shingles and installation. You can guess your square footage by multiplying the length of your roof by its width, counting the slope.
A typical house with 1,500 square feet of living space will have about 2,100 feet of roof, if it's a medium slope. If your house has a steep roof, it will have more square feet and take more out of your pocket. Not only will it take more material, but installation is more expensive on very steep roofs because they are harder to work on.
You'll pay more for a new asphalt shingle roof if you have to take off old roofing first. Most building codes and insurance policies won't allow more than one or two layers of shingle. It'll cost you from $110 to $250 a square to remove old shingles, depending on how many layers there are. If you have to repair or replace the wood decking and put down new roofing paper or waterproofing, add that many more dollars.
The kind of shingle you buy will affect your cost. Most people use three-tabs, which are long strips with three tabs at the bottom that make them look like individual shingles. These are cheaper to install. Architectural shingles are thicker, heavier and may look better; you'll have to shell out more for them, though, because they're more expensive and cost more to install since they're individual shingles, not strips.
Weight and Warranty
Your cost will vary, too, with the kind of shingle and warranty. Basic asphalt shingles just have a couple of layers of asphalt with a gravel top. Some sturdier types incorporate fiberglass reinforcing between the asphalt layers; they're stronger and more expensive. You can get warranties from 10 to 30 years -- the longer the warranty, the more you'll pay. Expect to fork over from $115 to $135 a square. Roofers always buy extra because there's always waste. You'll probably pay from $2,700 to $3,300 for shingles on a 2,100 square foot roof.
Save a few bucks by scheduling your roofing job during the off-season. Roofers are busiest in spring and fall, so that's when installation prices are highest. You'll get a better deal in late fall or winter, if weather allows. Work with your neighbors, too. Roofers like to put together neighborhood packages so they do several roofs in the same area. If you can get half a dozen jobs in the neighborhood, you'll all save a bit.
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.