Roofing 101: What is a Roof Square, and What Does it Measure?

If you’ve ever had a roof replaced, you may have heard the term “roofing square.”

This is just one of many phrases that a contractor will use during the roof installation process. And, while not all roof-related jargon is critical for you to understand, learning what a roof square is may turn out to be beneficial in the long run.

So, what is a square in roofing? It is a unit of measurement that contractors use to calculate how much material they need to replace your roof.

But this, of course, is a simplified answer.

In this blog, we’ll examine how the term is used in roof measurements and what it indicates to a contractor and homeowner.

What Is a Roofing Square?

The first thing to note is that a “roof square” isn’t shorthand for “square foot” or “square yard” but its own unit of measurement.

One roofing square roughly equals 100 square feet. This makes it very easy to convert from roof square to square feet and vice versa. For example, a 2,000-square-foot roof amounts to 20 squares.

The roof square is used by professionals to determine the size of a roof, how much material they will need to carry out repairs or replacements, and to calculate labor requirements.

Understanding this unit also makes it easy for a homeowner to estimate how much a new roof will cost, especially since many contractors use this measurement instead of square feet.

If you are told that the average residential roof installation in California costs $400 and $1100 per roof square, then you can expect to spend $4 to $11 per square foot.

What Is a Roofing Square

How Is a Roof Measured?

A professional will first divide your roof into planes, or individual flat surfaces that comprise the total roof area. They will then measure the length and width of each plane to arrive at a figure in square feet. The square footage of all planes is added together and used to determine the size in roof squares.

Professionals also use a level to account for pitch, or the incline of each plane. Depending on the distance between the middle of the level and the roof, the pitch can be classified as high, medium, or low.

Each of these has a corresponding value:

  • Low pitch: 1.07
  • Medium pitch: 1.185
  • High pitch: 1.36

The pitch value is multiplied by the original roof squares to arrive at a total size.

So, in the case of a low-pitched roof that’s 20 squares (2,000 sq ft), the total size will be:

20 x 1.07 = 21.4 squares

While this is simple enough to understand, homeowners are strongly advised against carrying out roof measurements on their own as it is dangerous without proper tools and training.

How Much Material Does One Roof Square Need?

As mentioned earlier, contractors use roof square to determine how much material will go into repairing or replacing a roof.

To understand how this works, let’s take a look at how roofing materials are sold. Most manufacturers package and sell shingles by the bundle. Each of these contains between 15 and 30 shingles, depending on their size.

How many bundles of shingles are in a square?

In most cases, contractors use three bundles of shingles for one square. Of course, this figure differs depending on the brand in question or the kind of material.

In the case of wood shakes, you may need five bundles to make up a square. In the case of tiles, 80 to 100 pieces make up one square.

So, if we assume that three bundles of shingles are needed per square—which is often the case—a roof measuring 20 squares will need (20 x 3) 60 bundles.

How Much Material Does One Roof Square Need

How Does This Affect Cost?

What can a homeowner take away from all this information?

In most cases, a roofing company in California will quote costs to clients using square as a unit of measurement. This quote will include the cost of materials and labor.

Figuring out how much material goes into one square of shingles, or how to properly measure your roof’s size, can thus be exceptionally handy.

That said, there are a few equally critical factors to consider when estimating how much roof installation services in California can end up costing:

  • Complexity: A roof with multiple slopes or chimneys will be more expensive to replace, even if the relative square value isn’t as high.
  • Materials: Roofing materials range from asphalt shingles to tiles, wood shakes, metal, or even concrete. Each comes with its own associated costs and pros and cons.
  • Location: Labor and material expenses depend on which part of the country you live in. The expertise of the contractors in that region can also affect how much they charge.
  • Warranties: The warranties and guarantees initially offered by your contractor can determine the average life of a roof, as well as the cost of replacing one.
  • Maintenance: How well a roof is cared for after installation could also impact the cost of a new roof. To determine whether your roof was maintained properly, we suggest reading up a bit on how often you should replace your roof.

Once you have a clear picture of which of these factors affect you, along with how to measure the size of a roof, check out our roofing cost calculator for an estimate.

The Bottom Line: Seek Shelter with AMECO

Replacing or repairing a roof is a massive investment for any homeowner—requiring multiple complex factors to be considered.

Understanding measurements like the roofing square, and how it can be used to break down the cost of materials and labor will help you make smart financial decisions.

As one of the leading roofing companies in California, no one understands this better than AMECO. For almost 50 years, we have assisted customers from across the state with our dynamic roofing solutions.

For any further questions about the roof installation process, materials, or labor costs, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experts today!