Understanding Roofing and Window Costs

Understanding Roofing and Window Costs

Given the costs involved, it’s no surprise that making the decision to replace your roof or windows can be a tad intimidating. And while they might be expensive projects, knowing what’s involved and what to look for is the surefire way to guarantee you’ll make the right decision for your budget and your needs.

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When installing a new roof, the biggest decision you’re going to have to make, outside of choosing which roofing pro to hire, is what material to use. If you’re replacing an existing roof this will likely be an easier decision, as there’s a good chance you’ll go with the same material you’re replacing. It gets a bit more complicated if you’re building a new home.

Understanding Your Options

The most popular roofing option is asphalt. Inexpensive, durable, and easy to install, asphalt shingles are available in a number of different colors and styles so you can be sure you’ll be able to find an option that complements your home.

Composite shingles are becoming an increasingly popular option, as they give you the look of more expensive materials such as slate, tile, and wood, without the expense that goes with it. However, you’ll have to open up the checkbook as composite shingles cost significantly more than asphalt shingles.

If you have a historic home or are looking for a more upscale look, you’ll want to consider going with wood shingles and shakes. (Quick tip: wood shingles are thinner than shakes and provide a smooth appearance, whereas shakes are rough split and highly textured.) Wood shingles are typically made of cedar and will last about 25 years.

If you’ve got the budget and want to give your home a truly upscale look, look no further than slate roofing. Fire-retardant, incredibly tough, and nearly maintenance-free, slate is one of the most durable roofing materials available, so much so that you can expect it to last your lifetime. And while slate looks fantastic, it is heavy, so it might not be a viable option for your home.

Metal roofing does it all. It’s durable, noncombustible, energy efficient, and available in a number of different styles. If there’s one downside to metal it’s that it’s you have so many options - aluminum, steel, and copper being the most common.

Last but not least, tile or concrete roofing is an option worth considering if you’re looking for an upscale look or have a Mission or Spanish Colonial style home. It looks great, is available in a number of different styles and colors, and is very durable. The downside is that it’s spendy and heavy, so it might not be the right choice for your home.

Additional Cost Factors

Not surprisingly, the size and layout of your roof plays a big role in determining the project cost. While many contractors base their estimates on square footage, roofing pros go by squares, where each square is 100 square feet. So if your roof is 2,000 square feet it will be 20 squares. The more squares, the more the project will cost (most of the time).

As you might imagine, the simpler the roof, the lower the cost. If your roof is steep, loaded with chimneys, and features many other elaborate architectural elements, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be spending more on your project. An additional factor that could come into play is the condition of your existing roof and decking (the base over which the roofing is applied). If the decking is damaged, any repairs or replacement costs will be added to your budget.


New windows do more than simply trim the fat from your utility bills. In fact, while efficiency is an important factor to consider, it’s equally important to consider how new windows will positively affect the comfort of your home, as well as its value. Doing so will help you figure out the right windows to buy for your budget.

So, how much can you expect to pay? If the window frame is intact you can expect to spend about $300 - $700 per window, including tear out, disposal and installation (for standard window sizes). If you’re going with custom windows, that figure can quickly jump above $1000 per window. If you need to replace the window and frame you can expect to spend up to twice as much per window.

High-End Windows: Worth the High-End Prices?

As is the case with most products, higher quality equals higher price. Expensive windows will likely be wood or fiberglass and feature triple glazed, argon or krypton gas filling and low-E coatings. And while it might be tempting to go with the least expensive windows possible, there are a few reasons you might not want to.

For one, cheap windows generally don’t last as long as higher quality windows. In general, windows are built to last between 20 and 30 years. However, many homeowners have found themselves replacing inexpensive windows within ten years.

Second, inexpensive windows typically don’t look as good. When you consider how visible windows are and how much they affect the look of your home it’s wise to spend more to ensure you select windows that complement your home.

Third, inexpensive windows won’t be as soundproof and energy-efficient. If you live near a busy street or in an environment prone to excessive heat or cold, it’d be worth it to invest in nicer windows with low U-factors (two or three).

That being said, just because you don’t want to go with the cheapest option doesn’t mean you should automatically go with the most expensive option, especially since the ROI will be incremental. Unless you have the budget to spare or like the aesthetics afforded by more expensive windows, save yourself the cash and go with mid-grade windows.

As for whether or not it’s worth it to get new windows…the answer depends on your situation. Does your home have old, drafty, single-pane windows that barely open or have rotted frames? Do you plan on staying in your home for the next ten years? Are you tired of dealing with high utility bills? If so, they’re worth it. Just remember to get quotes from at least three contractors. Our ProFinder tool will help you find a screened and rated pro in your area.

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