Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Roll Roofing vs Asphalt Shingles Roofing Installation Cost & Price Guide

Asphalt roofing remains a popular roofing material for residential, commercial and utility applications. It offers affordable cost with good durability.

Introduction to Asphalt Roll & Asphalt Shingle Roofing

This asphalt roofing guide compares and contrasts asphalt roll roofing with asphalt shingles, with their pros and cons, to assist you in making the best choice for your project. Let’s start with an overview of each.

What is Asphalt Roll Roofing?

Asphalt roll roofing shouldn’t be confused with tar paper, which is an underlayment.

The construction of asphalt roll roofing includes:

  • Thick organic, felt or fiberglass mat
  • Saturated with asphalt
  • Topped with colored mineral granules for looks, impact resistance and sunlight reflection
  • Cut into rolls typically 3’ wide and 33’-36’ long (about 100 square feet of material)

Asphalt roll roofing is sometimes called mineral-surfaced roofing because of the granules. Another popular name is 90-lb or 90-pound roofing because it weighs about 90lbs per roll.

Roll asphalt roofing is suitable for all sloped roofs including those with a nearly flat 1:12 pitch. Rolls are typically overlapped by at least 2 inches, fastened to the roof deck with nails and sealed at the seams.

Roll roofing is more utilitarian than it is attractive, so you’ll typically find it on sheds, storage facilities and similar buildings where aesthetics aren’t a concern. It has limited use for residential installation and, in fact, might not meet code or building regulations for homes in some communities. Asphalt rolled roofing is available in a limited number of colors such as black, gray, brown, dark green and dark red.

What are Asphalt Shingles?

The most popular roofing material in North America has similar construction to roll roofing but with more variety.

Asphalt shingle construction includes:

  • A base mat of organic material (less common), felt or fiberglass (more common)
  • Saturation in asphalt
  • A top layer of asphalt mat
  • An additional layer of asphalt mat in architectural asphalt shingles
  • Covered in colored granules made from ceramic, quartz, stone or another mineral

Because they are built in layers, these are also called composite shingles. Asphalt shingles are installed one at a time, starting at the low edge of the roof and working toward the peak. Each row partially overlaps the row beneath it. Shingles are suitable for roofing with a pitch of at least 4:12.

Three-tab asphalt shingles offer moderate to good protection against impact and wind. Architectural (aka dimensional) shingles are thicker, so provide improved impact and wind resistance. Both types are available in a wide range of colors.

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Pros and Cons of Asphalt Rolls and Shingles

Each material has advantages and disadvantages, and they are summarized in the chart below.

Asphalt roll roofing pros

  • Least expensive roofing material
  • Quick installation means low labor cost
  • Can be used on sloped and nearly flat roofs
  • Good wind resistance
  • Transports easily from store to home
  • Recyclable

Asphalt roll roofing cons

  • Durability is just 5 to 15 years
  • Poor impact resistance
  • Not considered attractive
  • Little variety in color
  • Shouldn’t be installed in very cold weather, because it becomes brittle
  • Isn’t permitted on homes or businesses in some communities
  • Roll ends damaged before installation leave seams vulnerable when installed
  • Might diminish the resale value of a home or retail building

Compare those with the pros and cons of asphalt shingles.

Asphalt shingle pros

  • Good affordability compared with steel, tile, concrete or slate
  • Levels of quality and price to fit most budgets
  • Variety of styles and colors
  • Durability of 15 to 30 years based on quality and the local climate
  • Shingles for high-wind applications offer resistance to 150mph
  • Recyclable

Asphalt shingle cons

  • Reduced lifespan in sunny, hot climates or when the attic is poorly vented
  • Shouldn’t be installed during very cold weather
  • Not suitable for flat and nearly flat roofs
  • Not as durable as steel, tile, concrete or slate
  • Must be installed properly to assure expected durability

This table compares asphalt roll roofing to shingles in important areas.

Asphalt Roll Roofing / Asphalt Shingles Costs
 Roofing Costs Asphalt Roll roofing Asphalt Shingles
Material cost: Low Low to moderate
Install cost: Low Low to moderate
Durability: Poor (5-15 years) Good (15-30 years)
Impact resistance: Poor to good Good
High wind resistance: Good Poor to good
Variety/aesthetics: Poor Good to excellent
Maintenance: Low Low
Repair cost: Low to moderate Moderate
Removal cost: Low Low to moderate
Two layers permissible: Yes Yes (per most building codes)

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How Much Roofing Material Will You Need?

To determine this, you first need to know the square footage of your home’s exterior footprint. If you have a flat roof, you’ll need the same amount of roofing as the square footage plus about 10% extra for trimming and to have shingles left over for repairs in the future.

Note: Simple roofs require up to 10% extra; roofs with complex features such as multiple valleys, hips or dormers require up to 15% extra.

For sloped roofs, take the square footage of your home and use a multiplier from the chart below. The lower the slope, the less material needed. Note: A 3:12 pitch roof is one that rises 3 inches for every 12 inches it runs toward the peak. If you don’t know the pitch, a “guestimate” will get you in the right ballpark.

    • 3:12 – 1.035 (14 degrees)
    • 4:12 – 1.055 (18.5 degrees)
    • 5:12 – 1.085 (22.5 degrees)
    • 6:12 – 1.12 (26.5 degrees)
    • 7:12 – 1.16 (30.5 degrees)
    • 8:12 – 1.205 (33.75 degrees)
    • 9:12 – 1.25 (37 degrees)
    • 10:12 – 1.305 (40 degrees)
    • 11:12 – 1.36 (42.5 degrees)
    • 12:12 – 1.415 (45 degrees)

For example, shingles for a 2,000 square foot home would be determined with these equations factoring in the pitch and the 15% extra material:

  • 4:12 roof: 2,000 x 1.055 x 1.15 = 2,426.5 square feet or about 25 squares
  • 8:12 roof: 2,000 x 1.205 x 1.15 = 2,771.5 square feet or about 28 squares

Roofing material and installation is estimated by the square; a square is equal to 100 square feet of coverage.

Comparing Asphalt Roll Roofing and Asphalt Shingles Cost

Roofing prices online vary quite a bit and often don’t specify what is included in the estimates. These asphalt roll roofing and shingle costs break down all the costs, so you will get a good idea of what your roofing costs will be.

We’ve given prices by the square (100 square feet of coverage) To determine the cost per square foot, simply divide each by 100.

Asphalt roll roofing costs:

  • Asphalt 30# roofing felt (tar paper) underlayment: $18 to $33/square
  • Roofing nails, flashing and additional materials: $3 to $6/square
  • Asphalt roll roofing: $35 to $50/square
  • Installation labor: $145 to $255/square

Total asphalt roll roofing cost: $200 to $350/square


  • Removing shingles (called a “tear off” by roofers) $115 to 200/square
  • Ridge vent (if needed): $9.00 to $20.00/linear foot
  • Starter shingles (if needed): $0.60 to $0.85/linear foot

*Ridge vents might already be in place if you are reroofing a structure, though might not be needed on a utility building

*Starter shingles are not needed if you are applying the second layer of material to the roof

Asphalt shingles costs:

  • Asphalt 30# roofing felt (tar paper) underlayment: $18 to $33/square
  • Roofing nails, flashing and additional materials: $6 to $10/square
  • Asphalt shingles: $90 to $300/square (with most in the $125 to $200/square range)
  • Installation labor: $200 to $325/square

Total asphalt shingle cost: $315 to $670/square (with most jobs $400-$600/square)


  • Ridge vent (if none present): $9.00 to $20.00/linear foot
  • Starter shingles (if installing the first layer of roofing): $0.60 to $0.85/linear foot

The cost of asphalt shingles varies so widely due to the significant difference in quality between the cheapest three-tab shingles and the costliest architectural shingles.

In addition, who installs the shingles will affect cost. If you hire an unlicensed handyman, for example, the cost will be low. The quality might also be low, and if the roof begins to fail, you may have no recourse but to pay a professional roofer to make repairs.

The best strategy is to get estimates from three or more licensed roofing professionals in your area. Check references, drive by homes they’ve roofed and ask about the experience of the crew that will be working on your home or building.

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Roof Design and Roofing Cost

The design of your roof will have a moderate effect on labor costs. Single-story homes with four walls are the least costly to shingle. Multiple-story homes with elaborate designs have higher roofing installation costs because the upper stories must be reached with ladders and there is more trimming and intricate installation work involved. Roofs with a steep pitch might also produce higher estimates due to the increased difficulty of the work.

Asphalt Roll and Shingle Roofing Maintenance

Both are low-maintenance roofing materials. These roll and shingle roof maintenance tips will ensure the roof lasts as long as possible.

  • Inspect the roof or have it inspected twice a year for damaged or missing shingles, roll seams that are separating, gaps between the roofing and second-story walls and other protrusions and for general signs of wear.
  • Inspections should also be done after storms with high winds, large hail or failing debris such as twigs and branches
  • Repair damaged or missing roofing material immediately
  • Remove leaves and other debris from the roof to prevent staining and the growth of mold and/or algae
  • Ice dams should be removed by a professional roofer for safety considerations and to avoid damaging the roof and causing a leak
  • If ice dams develop, it is an indication that your attic needs more insulation
  • Make sure your attic is properly vented with ridge vent, soffit vents and gable vents to ensure the best roof longevity

Are you Looking for a Roofer?

Asphalt Roofer Installation / Repair ContractorWhen it’s time to hire a professional roofing contractor, we can take the hassle out of it for you. The service we offer is quick and convenient.

You fill out one short form with information about the roofing project, and you receive written estimates from three of the top roofing installers in your area. There is no cost or obligation for using the service.

The screened and experienced roofing contractors provide competitive bids because they know you’re getting multiple estimates.

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