Home > Roofing > Rolled Roofing: Cost, Comparisons, & Pros & Cons

Rolled Roofing: Cost, Comparisons, & Pros & Cons

Updated Oct 28, 2022

Updated Oct 28, 2022

Home > Roofing > Rolled Roofing: Cost, Comparisons, & Pros & Cons

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A new roof can give a home a facelift, bringing it from a worn-out, dilapidated-looking building to a newer, modernized home. Of course, paint and some TLC can help, but the roof can make a significant difference. So, if you’re planning on re-roofing your home, you’ll need to select the perfect material.

There are multiple options available on the market today, some more aesthetically pleasing (and expensive) than others. Although rolled roofing isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing option in the pool of choices, it offers a low-cost, functional option to homeowners seeking a budget-friendly material. This article reviews rolled roofing and its ins and outs, so continue reading to learn more and determine if this material is the best for your home.

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What Is Rolled Roofing?

Rolled roofing, also known as mineral surfaced roofing (MSR), is a type of material similar to asphalt shingles used as an inexpensive roofing material. It consists of a mineral-surfaced base with an oil-based asphalt product. Some types include fiberglass. As the name implies, the product comes in rolls, usually 100 square feet per roll. Each roll of this material weighs about 75 pounds, making it easy to manage during installation.

Rolled roofing is available at nearly every home improvement and hardware store, but many online retailers also sell it. As mentioned, rolled roofing is similar to asphalt shingles due to its composition. However, rolled roofing is substantially cheaper than asphalt shingles but is nowhere near as durable or thick.

Where Rolled Roofing Is Commonly Used?

Since rolled roofing is a thin, more affordable alternative to other types of roofing, people often use it in unoccupied structures. It works well enough to keep the structure dry, but most people avoid using it on their homes. Instead, they use it for roofing shops, sheds, garages, and other outbuildings around their homes.

Rolled Roofing Pros & Cons

Every roofing material has an impressive list of pros and cons, which can help determine the best option for your home or building project. As you browse through roofing material options for your home, consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option. The following table outlines the notable pros and cons of rolled roofing. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Great for shops, gazebos, sheds, shops, garages, and other outbuildings
  • Easy to install
  • Ideal for low-sloped roofs
  • Works for re-roofing an existing structure
  • Easy to transport

Cons

  • Lack of design choices
  • Less durable than other options
  • Short lifespan
  • Can detrimentally affect home resale value
  • Difficult to install around skylights
  • Sub-par warranty

Rolled Roof Pros

Rolled roofing is a strong contender as an inexpensive material for small roofing projects, like shops, gazebos, sheds, garages, and other outbuildings. The material comes in easy-to-work-with rolls, so DIYing a rolled roofing project is doable.

You won’t need any special equipment to move the rolls up to the roof, as they’re not overly heavy. Plus, you can complete the project without extra hands (although it’s helpful).

Many people use rolled roofing for low-sloped roofs on small outbuildings, but some folks also use it as a temporary covering for their homes while they wait for their new roofing material. It is usually not meant to be an underlayment.

Rolled Roof Cons

Although rolled roofing is a solid, inexpensive option for your next roofing project, it has a few downsides. This roof surface doesn’t last very long, as it usually deteriorates within 5 to 8 years. Compared to other roofing materials, the lifespan of rolled roofing is a drop in the bucket.

Aside from its short lifespan, rolled roofing isn’t a durable option for your project. The material deteriorates rapidly and may not hold up as well under harsh weather conditions.

In addition, rolled roofing doesn’t come in any different designs like other roofing materials. For example, tiled roofing comes in different shapes and materials, so customers can choose what works best for their homes. With rolled roofing, homeowners have access to a few different colors, but there’s no variation in shaping or materials, as it comes in regular rolls.

If you plan on selling your home in the near future, installing rolled roofing could detrimentally impact the value of your home. In many cases, real estate agents recommend that homeowners replace rolled roofing with an alternate material, such as shingles, as it can negatively impact the house’s value.

Rolled Roofing Cost

As mentioned, rolled roofing is one of the most inexpensive materials available. Compared to other popular materials, rolled roofing is extremely cheap, as a complete roof installation on an average-sized home usually costs less than $3,000. The chart below summarizes the cost range, average cost, and other factors that can affect the total expenses associated with your project.

Cost BreakdownCost ($)
Typical Cost Range$1,500 to $3,000
Average Cost$2,250
Materials Cost$30 to $100 per square (100 square feet)
Labor (Per Square Foot)$1.50 to $3
Removing Existing Roof (Per Square Foot)$1 to $5

Factors That Affect Rolled Roofing Cost

Although rolled roofing tends to be an inexpensive option across the board, the final cost of a new roof is different for everyone. Multiple factors can affect the total price you pay when all is said and done, including the material quality, roof considerations, and your local area.

Material

Like nearly any product, rolled roofing is available at various price points. Some rolled roofing materials are cheaper than others, with some as low as $30 per square. While you could opt for an inexpensive option to cut costs, the quality often goes hand-in-hand with the price.

On the expensive end of the spectrum, rolled roofing materials usually cost about $100 per square. These materials include rolled roofing material, roofing cement, sealant, and other accessories. If you choose a more expensive option, expect to pay more in total.

Labor

While rolled roofing is easy to install, some people may outsource the project to a roofing company. If that’s the case, you will need to pay extra to have the company install the roof replacement. Since installing this material is straightforward, outsourcing the installation usually doesn’t tack on excessive cost. 

On average, labor for this material costs anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot, which is reasonable compared to many other roofing material installation costs.

Size of the Roof

The size of your roof plays an integral role in the total price of your project. The larger the roof, the more material you’ll need and the more expensive it’ll be. Smaller homes and roofing projects are generally less costly than larger projects. Of course, pricing might be similar between a small project with high-end materials and a larger project with budget materials, but as a general rule, you can expect to pay more for larger projects.

Roof Slope and Shape

Steep roofs with numerous peaks and valleys often cost more to complete the roofing project. This is primarily due to the added difficulty of the task, as more time will likely be necessary to complete the new roofing. This directly correlates with labor costs – the longer it takes, the more you’ll have to pay.

Removal of Existing Roof

When replacing an existing roof with rolled roofing, you’ll need to remove the current roofing material first (including the shingles and all the roofing nails). While you could do this part of the project yourself, many folks choose to have their contractor handle the entire process, from start to finish.

So, if you decide to replace an existing roof and choose to outsource the removal process to your roofing contractor, you can expect to pay $1 to $5 per square foot of removed material. In addition, you may have to pay for disposal, although this varies based on the material and company.

Local Area

When you re-roof your home or finish a new building project, you’ll need to ensure the project meets the local building code. In some areas, you may need to obtain specific permits before starting the project and meet certain regulations with its completion. You might need to pay to get these permits, which can add additional fees to your final cost.

Rolled Roofing vs. Other Materials

As you browse for the perfect roofing material for your project, comparing and contrasting materials doesn’t hurt. This way, you can isolate the best option based on factors like cost, longevity, and durability. The table below outlines rolled roofing and how it compares in specific sectors to other roofing materials.

Roofing MaterialDurabilityCostInstallationStyle or Color Variety
Rolled RoofingLimitedLowEasyGood
ShinglesGoodLow to MediumManageableGood
Modified BitumenGoodMedium to HighDifficultGood
Rubber RoofingGoodMedium to HighManageableLimited
TPOGoodMedium to HighManageableGood
Torch DownGoodMedium to HighDifficult (due to torching)Good
MetalGoodMedium to HighManageable to DifficultExcellent

Spectrum: Easy, manageable, difficult; Limited, good, excellent; Low, medium, high.

Rolled Roofing vs. Shingles

Many homes utilize asphalt shingles as an inexpensive roofing material. However, although asphalt shingles are affordable in the grand scheme of things, they’re still more expensive than rolled roofing. Installing roofing shingles is usually more involved than rolled roofing, so on top of more costly materials, shingles often rack up more labor costs.

Aside from pricing, asphalt shingles last considerably longer and offer a more sophisticated appearance. In addition, asphalt shingles are available in more colors and designs, so consumers can choose the option that works best for their homes. With asphalt, you will generally need fewer roof repairs too.

Rolled Roofing vs. Modified Bitumen

Like rolled roofing, modified bitumen is an asphalt-based roofing system often used for low-slope roofs. However, this particular building system is closely related to the built-up roofing (BUR) system. Modified bitumen roofing systems are superior to rolled roofing in durability and longevity, as these systems can last two to three decades before substantially deteriorating to the point of requiring replacement.

Although modified bitumen is the better option in those aspects, it’s trickier to work with than rolled roofing. Installation is more involved and complex, and repairs are complicated. This increases labor costs, making it a more expensive alternative to rolled roofing. On top of that, some contractors won’t work with modified bitumen materials due to the complexity of the material.

In general, modified bitumen is more expensive than rolled roofing, both in material and labor costs.

Rolled Roofing vs. Rubber Roofing

Rubber roofing, also known as EPDM rubber roofing, is another popular material for roofing made of rubber and plastic polymers (usually recycled from tires, sawdust, and slate dust). This particular material is long-lasting and durable with correct installation and maintenance. Compared to the 5- to 8-year lifespan of rolled roofing, rubber roofing can last almost a lifetime, as it will hold up for 50 years or more.

Of course, the longer lifespan and durability come at a cost. Rubber roofing systems can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $18,000, which is well over double the price of rolled roofing systems (on the low end).

Rolled Roofing vs. TPO

Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofing is very similar to rolled roofing. This type of roofing is made of recycled rubber and is often used on commercial buildings with flat roofs. Like rolled roofing, TPO roofing is sold in rolls.

The seams are glued together with heat, which creates a watertight seal. On average, these roofs last a few decades but usually no more than 30 years. Compared to the 8-year lifespan of rolled roofing, TPO lasts considerably longer.

Again, this longevity comes at a cost, as one square of TPO can cost anywhere from $350 to $1,400, which is substantially more than rolled roofing.

Rolled Roofing vs. Torch Down

Torch-down roofing is another alternative to rolled roofing, but instead of material, “torch down” refers to the installation method. With this particular method, installers use an open-flame propane torch to seal the material to the roof surface.

In many cases, installers use sheets of modified bitumen for the material, as it offers a tough waterproof covering over the roof. On average, roofs with this installation method last about 20 years before replacement is necessary, which is over double the lifespan of regular rolled roofing.

In their lifespan, torch-down roofs are virtually maintenance-free, as the hard, durable surface withstands the elements well. Again, the added durability and longevity make torch-down roofs a pricier alternative to rolled roofs. Whereas rolled roofing costs about $3,000 on the high end, torch-down roofs can cost as much as $14,000.

Rolled Roofing vs. Metal

Metal roofing is an excellent roofing material that offers an extensive list of benefits. This type of roofing is made of metal sheets, which can last decades with proper care. In addition to the decent lifespan, metal roofing is durable, pest-resistant, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly.

While rolled roofing offers sufficient durability, it cannot compare to the abundant perks of metal roofing. Of course, metal roofing has cons, such as noise (loud when it rains or hails), thermal contractions, rust, and dents. On top of that, metal roofing is considerably pricier than rolled roofing.

Other Considerations

When you’re re-roofing your home or adding a roof to an outbuilding, there are a few additional aspects to consider. For example, if you live in a historical district or Homeowner’s Association (HOA), you’ll need to consider the regulations associated with each.

In many cases, HOAs restrict certain roofing materials and require homeowners to use a specific roofing material, as this ensures consistency throughout the neighborhood. So, check with your HOA before proceeding if you’re re-roofing your home or shed.

Or, if you live in a historic district, you might need to follow specific guidelines for roofing, as these areas often strive to preserve the historical element. You can check with your city for rules and regulations surrounding these rules. Your local building authority should have answers for you, so if you’re unsure, check before starting your roofing project.

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