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Guide to Asphalt Roof Shingles Prices & Costs per Square Foot

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National Roofing Costs

$0.50 per sq. ft. Minimum Cost
$2 per sq. ft. Maximum Cost

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Guide to Asphalt Roof Shingles Prices & Costs per Square Foot

Asphalt shingles are among the most common types of roofing in the United States. They are inexpensive, easy to install and maintain, weather-resistant, and relatively long-lasting. Many homeowners often purchase asphalt shingles in bulk to cover their own roofs. 

However, there are several different options available from which homeowners can choose. These options will have different cost points, as well as different functional benefits and downsides.

The Costs 

  • Minimum Cost: Approximately $.50 per square foot
  • Maximum Cost: Approximately $2 per square foot

The size of roofs vary immensely from a standard, urban roof measuring about 800-square-feet to suburban roofs, which often range above 1,500-square-feet. Ranch homes, mansions and larger homes may have around 2,000 square feet of roof space. The cost of roofing material is often measured in what are known as "squares" consisting of 100-square-feet each.

A homeowner can find the square footage of the roof in one of several ways, depending on comfort level and safety. The easiest way may be for the homeowner to get a helper and go up on the roof with a tape measure. The helper can hold the tape while the homeowner measures. A homeowner may also calculate the square footage if the pitch of the roof is known. By measuring the base square footage of the house, geometry may be used to figure it out. Finally, homeowners may opt to pay a professional to measure the roof.


The differences in the cost of asphalt shingles have to do with the materials used to make them as well as the overall construction of the shingle. For instance, what are known as 3-tab shingles tend to be the least expensive option versus architectural shingles, which comprise all asphalt shingles that aren't classified as 3-tab.

The distinguishing feature of 3-tab shingles is that they consist of plain, modular strips or sheets of rectangular tiles. They are inexpensive and will protect against mild weather, sun and wind. However, they are not recommended for areas with high humidity, extreme weather, rapid temperature changes or heavy sunlight.

When it comes to architectural shingles, there are many different options. The most common ones are dimensional shingles and interlocking shingles. These add a level of aesthetic layering as well as provide sturdier durability.

Dimensional shingles are heavier weight and offer improved warranty protection. While 3-tab shingles often only offer 10 to 20 years warranty protection, warranty protection for dimensional shingles may last 30 years to a lifetime. These will almost always be more than $1 per square foot (or $100 per square). However, they will hold up to most severe weather and sun exposure as well as high winds.

Interlocking shingles are similar to dimensional shingles, but they are applied one at a time rather than in strips or sheets. This makes the cost of the shingles comparable but will generally increase the difficulty and installation cost. Interlocking shingles are even more weather-resistant than dimensional shingles and are recommended for resisting high winds, rain and extreme weather events.

Premium architectural shingles are also an option for those with money to spend who want their homes to look their best. These shingles are often laminated for extra weather resistance and may be crafted to look like natural slate or wood shakes but provide the functionality of asphalt. There are premium options that improve impact resistance or reduce home energy costs. These are likely going to be above $2 per square foot ($200 per square).

The appearance of shingles is also a major factor in their cost. While the standard, dark gray shingle is the most common and usually most affordable, asphalt shingles come in many different colors. Light colors are ideal for solar reflectivity but may be slightly more expensive. The homeowner may also wish to choose a color that complements the house's exterior paint and trim, which may be more expensive as well.

Other options that may impact the cost of asphalt shingles include:

  • Solar reflectivity to reduce air conditioning costs

  • Wind resistance for high-wind areas

  • Hail resistance

  • Fire resistance for hot, dry areas

  • Algae resistance for humid areas

  • Locking shingles for easier installation and general durability

Finally, shingles may be either fiberglass or organic material. Organic asphalt shingles are slightly more expensive but provide greater water absorbency, ideal for cold-weather climates that receive a lot of snow. Fiberglass shingles provide better fire and heat resistance, so they are ideal for warmer climates. Both organic and fiberglass shingles are available in 3-tab, dimensional, interlocking and any other style for a wide range of aesthetic and functional choices.

Advantages of Asphalt Roof Shingles

The advantages of asphalt shingles are numerous and have led to their use as one of the most popular types of roofing for new construction and home renovation. Asphalt shingles can be among the most economic choices and are often used on rental properties, but they can also be expensive, long-lasting choices in a wide range of climates. They can mimic the appearance of certain Old-World styles that may be impractical but otherwise fit the home's aesthetic. Finally, asphalt shingles are among the best choices for homeowners seeking to save a bit of money and install their roofs themselves. There are many DIY guides for installing asphalt shingles.

Disadvantages of Asphalt Roof Shingles

While asphalt shingles may be able to mimic other styles, there is no substitute for the real thing. Furthermore, they are limited for use on pitched roofs rather than flat roofs, making them less common in urban areas or other spaces where flat roofs are common. They are durable but not quite as durable as other options such as slate, ceramic or metal, though the homeowner will have to weigh the aesthetic, practical and cost benefits against materials like these as well. Finally, because of the relative commonality of asphalt shingles, they may not be the ideal choice for homeowners who want their house to stand out from the crowd.

Asphalt Roof Shingle Popularity

Asphalt roof shingles are the most popular roofing material on the market, but they are by no means your only choice. The other top roofing materials are:

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Last updated on Nov 8, 2018

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