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Why are Roof Replacements Expensive?

Why are Roof Replacements Expensive?

You may already know this if you've read any of our other blogs, but most roof replacements cost between $8,000 and $20,000, with most of the ones we do here in Raleigh falling between $10,000 and $15,000. 

I don’t think I need to tell you this, but that’s a lot of money! So, why? 

Today, we’re answering a question we get more often than anything else. Why is it so much more than other home improvement projects? 

It’s not so simple an answer, as you might expect. But don’t worry! That’s what we’re here to do. 

In the rest of this article, we’ll go over what makes a roof replacement expensive by talking about the materials used, labor costs, and some of the factors that increase the price. Also, we’ll give you some tips on how to keep your own roof replacement costs down. 

Let’s get started! 

What makes a roof replacement expensive? 

Materials of a roof replacement 

If you’re looking at a roof, the only part you’re likely seeing is the roofing material, which could be shingles, or metal, but there is a whole lot more going on underneath the surface. 


Roofs also have ventilation, roof decking, gutter systems, and other protective elements like ice & water shield, flashing, and drip edge. All of these things add on to the cost of your roof replacement, which may make it seem like more than you may have expected, if you were just thinking about the top layer of material. 

That being said, the bulk of the material cost comes from that top layer, whether its asphalt or metal, the homeowner’s choice roofing material is what we see cause the greatest variation in the price of a roof replacement. 

Before we talk a bit about the prices for these common roofing materials a key bit of information to know is that asphalt roofs are measured in “roofing squares,” or 100 square feet, while metal roofs are measured using linear feet. 

Typically, asphalt shingles are by far more affordable, but even then, there are cheaper, and more expensive options, which you can read all about in our blog on The Three Different Kinds of Asphalt Shingles. But for our purposes today, you should know that asphalt shingles can cost anywhere from $90-$180 per square in 2022, or $0.90-$1.80 per square foot, with the majority of our roof replacements using shingles in the low $100 per square range. 

Metal on the other hand, usually can cost $10-$12 per linear foot for standing seam panels. Truthfully, it’s difficult to use estimates to compare the prices, and you’d really need your roof measured for each material to know exactly what either material would cost for your replacement. 

The next big material cost that you’d have to face will depend on the amount of other materials that you have to replace, which we will talk about later, when it comes to ways you can lower the price of your roof replacement. 

Roof replacement labor costs 

For a lot of roofing jobs, (and pretty much every service job), the majority of the costs come in the form of labor.  

roofing contractors working on a roof replacement_WebP

Labor costs are usually between $150 and $300 per square, as a rough estimate. The things that typically cause labor costs to fluctuate are often out of a homeowner’s control, like the slope of a roof. 

Roofing costs also increase depending on the amount of damage there is done to a roof, or if a roof has been installed over a pre-existing layer, also known as a “nail-over.” If the damage done to a roof is enough to require the replacement of a few pieces of roof decking, that will drive up the costs some more. We’ll also talk about this in the section about keeping your costs low, but we’ll go ahead and say it here as well: take care of roof repairs and issues when they happen to avoid further damage, and more expenses down the road. 

Other roof replacement costs 

Some of the other items that determine how much your roof replacement will cost are: 

  • Roof Size 
  • Slope 
  • Complexity 
  • Disposal Costs 

It’s pretty easy to understand how the size of your roof will affect the price, as the company will need more materials, and it will take the crew more time to complete the job. Similarly, the slope, or pitch of your roof will be taken into account, since the slope increases the roofs overall size, but also the care and time needed to tear-off and install a particularly steep roof. The complexity of your roof will also increase your estimate, as more materials will be required to roof over valleys, and around penetrations.  


An often overlooked portion of a replacement is the price of disposing of the old roof, which will also increase with the size of your roof. Roofing contractors often rent dumpsters from other companies, who charge based on the size of the dumpster, as well as the weight of its contents, so naturally, the more the dumpster has to hold, the more it will cost to haul it. 

How to lower roof replacement costs 

Though there is no perfect solution or way to reduce the cost of your roof replacement, you can keep costs down for the future by catching and completing repairs early, and continually maintaining your roof so small problems don’t become big ones. 

If you leave a problem for too long, there’s a good chance a leak will form and cause damage to your roof decking, which will make a replacement necessary, when a repair could have done the trick earlier on in the process. Keeping an eye on your roof, and keeping your gutters clean can do wonders for your replacement budget later on down the line. 

Want to learn about replacing your own roof? 

Whatever stage you’re at in your roofing project, you may be feeling the need to talk to a roofing company. If this is something you want to do, reach out to us at On Tops Roofing. 

Our mission is to provide useful information to homeowners, at no cost to you, so that you can make the best decisions for you, and your home. If you want to talk to us, click the “Contact Us” button below, fill out the form on that page, and we’ll get you in touch with our representative for your area! 

We’ve got over 30 years of roofing experience in the Raleigh area, so whatever your project requires, we’ll be happy to help! 

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