Home > Roofing > Composition Roof: Cost, Types, Installation (2023)

Composition Roof: Cost, Types, Installation (2023)

Updated Mar 8, 2023

Updated Mar 8, 2023

Home > Roofing > Composition Roof: Cost, Types, Installation (2023)

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While the roof isn’t something most of us look forward to choosing material for or replacing, it’s something we need to do. The roof is a vital part of the house, as it keeps the house underneath dry and comfortable. So, it’s essential to choose a suitable material.

As you browse through available materials, you might come across composition shingles. So, is composition roofing a good option for your roofing project? It can be an excellent option, but you should know a few things before deciding, so continue reading to learn more.

Thinking of installing a composition roof? Find a local contractor to get started.

What Is a Composition Roof?

Composition roofs are a different roofing type that consists of multiple roofing materials. These materials can include various things like asphalt, fiberglass, and recycled paper. They come in several colors, styles, and designs, so finding an option that works for your home is doable.

Manufacturers usually make these shingles by coating a sheet of fiberglass with mineral fillers. Once the fillers adhere to the fiberglass, the manufacturer covers the product in layers of asphalt for a waterproof layer. On top of the asphalt, they apply ceramic granules.

Some types of composition roofing materials have added features, such as modified asphalts, moss retardants, water retardants, and corrosion resistance. However, these are usually only in higher-end composition roof materials, like Premium shingles.

Composition Roof Types

Composition roofing materials come in a few different categories: 3-tab, laminate, and architectural. The table below gives a basic outline of each shingle option, but continue reading beyond the table for a more detailed view.

Composition Roof TypeSummary
3-Tab ShinglesThese shingles are a budget-friendly option and have a cut-and-dry design without added features.
Laminate ShinglesThese or the mid-tier option, as they offer better features than the 3-tab shingles but aren’t quite as high-end as premium shingles.
Premium ShinglesThese are the high-end shingle option of the trio. They’re bigger, thicker, heavier, and usually have extra features.

3-Tab Shingles

As the least expensive option in the bunch, 3-tab shingles have the fewest features. These shingles feature three individual tabs, each approximately one foot wide. Upon installing these shingles, they create the appearance of a one-layer product featuring a tabbed design.

The vertical notches in each shingle create a distinctive pattern, which divides the lower portion of the shingle into three tabs. While inexpensive, these shingles still come with a decent warranty, usually lasting between 20 and 30 years.

Laminate Shingles

These shingles, also called dimensionals or architecturals, are a go-to choice for composition roofing. They feature an extra later fused at the base, which creates a thicker shingle that offers better durability.

Laminate shingles are a step up from 3-tab shingles, as they feature essential advantages the 3-tab option doesn’t have. For example, the second tabbed layer fused to the base gives laminate shingles an edge over the 3-tab option.

Manufacturers often offer laminate shingles that closely resemble other materials. For instance, these shingles are available in a design that mimics the appearance of wood shakes. These shingles are also available in a wide range of colors, so homeowners shouldn’t have any issues finding a color they like.

Premium Shingles

These shingles, also known as Grand Canyons, Presidentials, Grand Sequoia, or Premiums, are the gold standard of composition roofing materials. They’re heavier than other options and serve as the top-tier choice of the available options.

Architectural shingles are often thicker, heavier, and larger overall than standard laminates. They usually feature add-ons like modified asphalts, moss retardants, water retardants, and corrosion resistance.

In many cases, these shingles feature a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts anywhere from 50 years to a lifetime.

Pros and Cons of Composition Roofs

Like any product, composition roofs have pros and cons. As you weigh your options, it’s essential to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each roofing option, including composition roofs. The table below offers a general overview of the highs and lows of composition roofs. Continue reading beyond the table for a detailed look at each side of the spectrum.

Pros & Cons of Composition Roof


  • Impressive lifespan
  • Often features manufacturer’s warranties
  • Cost-effective roofing solution
  • Customizable
  • Multiple design options
  • Easy to replace
  • Durable


  • Deterioration over time, accelerated by inclement weather (heavy storms and intense heat)
  • Require regular maintenance
  • Susceptible to damage and high winds
  • Not entirely fire-resistant

Pros of Composition Roofs

For some folks, a composition roof might be the perfect solution, as this type of roofing offers multiple benefits. For example, these materials can last for decades, with some lasting around 50 years or longer. Many good-quality products have warranties that cover them for several decades, and some even feature lifetime warranties.

While low-quality composition roofs might only last 20 years, many can last much longer. The durability of these materials lends well to the lifespan as long as you complete regular maintenance. With regular maintenance, there may come a time when replacements are necessary. Luckily, replacing sections of the roof is simple, as the layered design offers easy access to damaged areas.

In addition to their durability and longevity, these materials are a cost-effective solution. Although they’re pricier than some roofing options, they offer an excellent lifespan for the cost.

Customers can select the style and design that matches their aesthetic preferences, creating a customizable experience.

Cons of Composition Roofs

Like any roofing material, composition roofs aren’t without drawbacks. Unfortunately, these roofs are susceptible to damage from excess heat, heavy rains, strong winds, and hard impacts. Sometimes, you may need to replace damaged portions to repair the issue.

In addition, they aren’t fireproof, so if that’s a priority for you, these materials might not be your best option.

Aside from these factors, composition roofs require regular maintenance to ensure there’s no damage. If you complete maintenance yourself, it shouldn’t cost too much, but if you decide to hire someone for maintenance, it can add up fast.

Composition Roof Cost

Although composition roofs aren’t the cheapest roofing option on the market, they’re far from the pricer options, like copper or zinc roofing, but comparable to asphalt shingles. The table below outlines the cost basics for new composition roofs.

Typical Cost Range$10,100 to $41,850
Average Overall Cost$25,975
Average Cost Per Square Foot$4 to $8

Factors That Affect Cost of Composition Roof

Since every home is different, the total for your new composition roof will vary based on a few factors, including the following:

Roof Size

The size of your roof plays a significant role in the final cost of your new roofing system. Larger homes with more extensive roofs will cost more than smaller homes, as more materials, time, and labor are necessary to install a new roof.

Installation Complexity

The complexity of your roof can raise or lower the project’s cost. Roofs with multiple peaks and valleys or penetrations generally cost more to install than simple up-and-over roofs. If your roof is more complex, you can expect to pay more for the installation and extra roofing shingles.


Composition roofing comes in a few different materials, including several shingle types. The type of material you choose will impact how much you pay. For example, if you decide on a 3-tab shingle, you can expect to pay less than if you choose a Premium shingle.


In some areas, labor costs are higher, so the installation cost may be higher than in others. If you decide to hire a roofing contractor, they should give you a price estimate so you know what to expect.

Composition Roof Installation

Composition roofing is a lightweight material that is easy to install. However, while the installation process is doable, it isn’t a suitable DIY project for inexperienced individuals. Generally, it’s best to have a contractor handle the roofing process, as they can guide you through the entire process from start to finish.

Hiring a roofer eliminates guesswork throughout the roof replacement, including shingle choice and installation questions. While hiring a residential roofing company will cost more, it’s usually the best option for most individuals.

The average cost to install a composition roof ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot, although this can vary based on several factors. In some areas, costs may be as high as $15 per square foot, and in others, it may be less than $4 per square foot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Composition Roof Good?

Composition roof shingles are a popular choice due to their durable nature, ease of installation, and relatively low price. They’re versatile, available in numerous styles and designs, and work on nearly any home and weather condition, so most folks don’t have an issue finding an option they like.

What is the Life of a Composition Roof?

A lower-quality composition roof usually lasts around 20 years, but better-quality composition roofing materials can last upwards of 50 years. Generally, manufacturers offer a warranty that extends anywhere from 20 years to a lifetime, so the product may be covered for decades.

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