How much do roof repairs cost? Whether to replace or fix yours

If your home doesn’t require a roof replacement, what will different roof repairs cost you?

Tab styled asphalt roof shingles
(Image credit: Getty Images: Douglas Sacha Creative #: 919303760)

Your roof protects your entire home from the elements. It takes a beating from wind, rain, hail, and snow and sometimes suffers damage. Repairing a roof is much less costly than a total replacement, but how do you know if a repair is all you need? This post will take a look at what can be repaired on your roof, and how much it should cost.

How much does it cost to replace an entire roof?

According to the home services website Angi: the average roof installation or replacement cost in the US starts at $5,589 and can go up to around $11,664. It depends on the type of roof you have and on your local roofing company rates also. Flat roofs tends to be typically cheaper, with tile roofs more expensive.

  • To replace a flat roof: $3,132 - $9,888
  • To replace a metal roof: $5,431 - $15,235
  • To install a slate roof: $5,806 - $24,381
  • To replace a tile roof: $7,789 - $23,807

Is it worth getting your roof inspected?

Whether you're installing a new roof or upgrading yours as part of a house renovation, keeping your roof well maintained and having an annual inspection by a professional are the best ways to prevent any roof leaks and other problems. Roof maintenance includes removing debris like leaves and fallen branches and cleaning out the gutters. You can inspect your attic yourself for moisture or leaks and look for missing or broken shingles after a storm. Otherwise, according to Derek Huntziger, general manager of Midwest Roof and Solar in Minneapolis, Minnesota,'Any reputable roofing company will inspect your roof for free.' During an inspection they should look for the following:

  • Any changes since the previous inspection
  • Granular loss on the shingles
  • Wind damage
  • The condition of the flashings
  • That all seals are intact
  • Exposed fasteners

They’ll also use a drone to look for any anomalies in the shingles. 'Warping, buckling, or evidence that someone has been walking on the roof when it was hot, will show us areas to address,' he says. He also said they’ll compare the condition of the roofing material with the installation date and calculate a life expectancy for the roof. 'That way homeowners can begin to save for a roof replacement for when the time comes.'

The parts of a roof

On top of the roof trusses, lays a plywood or OSB roof deck. Underlayment covers the deck and the shingles, or other roofing material like metal or tile, are fastened on top of that. The fasteners must be sealed. Along the ridgeline are vents that promote airflow in the attic. Metal flashing surrounds the vent stacks, chimney, and lays in the valleys to direct water away from areas that may leak. Other components include the fascia, to which gutters attach, and possibly box vents, skylights, and copper strips to prevent algae growth.

'A roof is installed in layers. There’s a sequence to the assembly and it’s all interconnected,' Huntziger says. For that reason, it’s not advised for a homeowner to just swap out shingles here and there and call it good. 'When you try to piece things in, you can cause roof failure down the road.'

The difference between repair and replacement

If your roof is leaking, of course, something needs to be done. But whether to repair or replace is a decision best left to professionals. 'The starting point for all roof leaks is pinpointing where moisture is coming in and evaluating if a repair is possible,' says Huntzinger. Since a roof typically needs to be replaced every 20-30 years anyway, a professional will consider the age of the roof before making any decision.

'Due to roofing code, installation guides, and manufacturing standards,' says Huntzinger, 'when there is damage to shingles the underlayment needs to be inspected, too.' Not following these codes and guidelines when making repairs could nullify the materials warranty. So, to protect the manufacturer’s warranty, roofing contractors often advise replacing all the materials on the entire slope where the damage is located. Otherwise, there are some roofing components that can be repaired independently.

Areas of the roof that can be repaired

According to Huntzinger, the roof components that can be repaired without disrupting the order of things include:

  • Flashings
  • Roof vents
  • Plumbing ventilation stacks
  • Areas around the chimneys
  • Any areas that don’t impact the performance of the shingles and underlayment.

The average cost of a roof repair

According to Angi, the average cost of a roof repair in the US is $985, with a range from $150 for a small repair to over $7000 for a major job.  Of course, the final cost depends on the cost of materials, labor charges, and the size and design of your roof. Some small repairs a homeowner can do themselves. The DIY cost of a few simple repairs includes:

  • Cracked or leaking flashing—$20
  • Cracked vent boot—$10-20
  • Leaking skylight or roof vent—$25-80

The average cost to replace parts of a roof

If your roof needs more attention than these simple fixes, the average roofer labor cost is about $75 per hour, according to the home services website Fixr. For larger jobs, a roofer may quote the job by the “square” which is the number of shingles required to cover a 10-foot by 10-foot measurement. If shingles or metal needs replaced, the cost depends on the cost of materials. Some online estimates include the cost of a square of shingles only so Huntzinger cautions that these estimates can be misleading. He says that the cost also needs to include:

  • The complexity of the job
  • The pitch of the roof
  • Ease of access
  • Ease of the installation
  • Cost of permits and debris disposal

However, if you’re skilled enough to DIY your own shingle replacement, here are the average roof repair costs by type, according to Angi.

  • Metal roof—$1600
  • Slate roof—$1570
  • Tile roof—$1000
  • Asphalt shingles—$875
  • Wood shakes—$750
  • Composite shingles—$450

Because the roof is your home’s first line of defense against the elements, roofing professionals advise homeowners to have a fund to cover the necessary cost of repairs to help a roof last as long as it's designed and supposed to. And, if their roof is approaching the 15-year mark, to start saving for a total replacement.

Carol J. Alexander

Carol J. Alexander writes website copy, blog posts, and feature articles on home remodeling and construction topics from her home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. In addition to Real Homes, notable clients include, This Old House, Family Handyman, and Florida Roofing magazine.