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What Is A Roofing Square?

If you need to replace your roof and are in the process of gathering quotes, then you may have heard the term “square” thrown around to describe your roof’s size…

If you’re not a contractor (and don’t play one on TV!), then you may be wondering:

What is a roofing square? 

How big is one square of roofing shingles?

To save you some time here’s the quick answer: 

One roofing square, or square of roofing shingles, is the amount of material needed to cover 100 square feet of roof area. The term is used by contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers as short hand to describe a roof’s size.  For example, a 1,800 square foot roof is 18 square.

Above is the definition of roofing square put in the simplest terms, but if you’re looking for more in-depth information about roof squares pricing, size calculations, and square footage conversions, then keep reading…

How Much Does A Square Of Roofing Cost?

The most frequent application for the term “square” throughout the roofing industry is in regard to pricing and ordering bundles of shingles, so it makes sense to cover the how much a square of roofing costs on average.

In the interest of time, we’ll use the state of Massachusetts as our example. Massachusetts roofers price their projects between $5 and $9 per square foot. We can convert ‘cost per square foot’ to ‘cost per square’ by multiplying the original number by 100. So in Boston, Massachusetts and the surrounding area, the cost of a square of roofing is between $500 and $900. 

Factors that determine the cost of a roofing square

Roof pricing (per square and otherwise) is determined by a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Your home’s geographic location
  • Your roof’s size
  • Roofing material (these conversions are less applicable to EPDM and TPO flat roofing materials)
  • Material quality
  • Current market for roofing materials (this fluctuates, just like gasoline)
  • Length of warranty after the replacement
  • The contractor’s experience level and certifications
  • How quickly you need the roof replaced (timeline)

Calculating Roof Square Size

For many roof replacement projects, calculating how many squares you’ll need is as simple as dividing the total square feet by one hundred. In other cases, however, there are elements that can skew your calculations if you aren’t careful.

Headlap; 1 square isn’t always exactly 100 square feet

If you’re hiring a qualified contractor for your project, then you don’t need to worry about this, but if you’re replacing your own roof you need to understand “headlap”!

Earlier we mentioned that a roofing square is equal to 100 square feet. While true in most cases, this calculation does not consider ‘headlap’. 

What is headlap? Headlap is the overlap of a row of shingles on top of the next row, which helps protect against water penetration. Because of headlap, a square of roofing shingles never really equals exactly 100 square feet of roofing when you line all the materials up.

Put plainly as possible: one square of roofing is not 100 square feet exactly, but is enough to cover 100 square feet of roofing area. The materials themselves may, and often are, more than 100 square feet in total. 

Varying roof styles make the term “roofing square” more common

Another reason that you can’t always divide square footage by 100 to get the number of square is because every roof shape and style is different…

For example, measuring a gable roof is fairly straightforward, but measuring a gambrel or mansard style roof can be a bit more complicated. “Waste” becomes a major factor when measuring more intricate roofing types like mansard and hipped roofs. Waste happens when shingles need to be cut to fit tight spaces (like valleys and along dormers). They are not always nailed in even rows along the roof deck.

With more complex roof types, you quickly realize that not every square foot of measurement is created equal! Overall, the phrase “roof square” helps bridge the gap for projects both simple and complex. 

As long as you have an experienced roofing contractor to work with, you can breathe easy knowing that at the end of the day, the correct amount of materials will get delivered and that your roof installation will go 100% according to plan! You can skip the hassle of measuring your roof, ordering materials, and DIY’ing the project by hiring Roof Hub. Our guarantees, time-tested processes, and 50 year warranty are just a few of many reasons hundreds of homeowners have trusted us with their #1 asset. If you’d like to get started on a roof estimate, click here.

Conversions Table

How many roofing squares are needed for a 2000 square foot roof? What about a 2000 sq. ft. roof? Use the handy conversion table below to match your roofing project with the corresponding squares:

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