If it's time to repair or replace your roof, you need to make sure you're getting the right materials for your house. Roofing is expensive to buy and install. Make sure you're getting your money's worth by working with a trusted, experienced local contractor who's knowledgeable about roofing. 


Roofers don’t use the common "square foot" measurement that most contractors and DIYers use. They use the term "squares." A square is equivalent to 100 square feet in area or a 10x10 area of roofing. 

In roofer's terms, a roof that measures 1000 feet means 10 squares. If a roofer talks about a material costing $20 a square, that means it costs $200 to cover that 1000-square-foot area. Keep in mind that this refers to a flat roof with no peaks, gables or dormers. Those details add to the amount of material you'll need.

That cost does not include installation. 

The price of your roof depends on the grade and type of material you choose. How do you know if you're buying good-quality materials? Read on to learn more.


You often see construction items like roofs, windows, doors and roofing materials marked as "builder's grade" or "custom grade." What do these terms mean? Here's how these levels rank from bottom to top.

Builder Grade or Contractor Grade

The cheapest, lowest-quality items in the home repair store are those that are labeled "builder's grade" or "contractor grade." 

Don't let these terms fool you. When manufacturers call these products "builder's grade," it sounds like these products are of the quality that's considered acceptable to a builder or contractor. In reality, they are the lowest-quality items that most contractors wouldn't put in their own homes.

Most builder-grade shingles are asphalt. Of these, the least expensive type is three-tab asphalt. These tiles last about 15 years, which sounds good but doesn't compare to the 50-plus years that some roofing materials last.

The average cost for these is $25 to $40 a square. 

Quality Grade

If you're going with asphalt shingles to save some money, that's understandable. Roofing materials and repairs are expensive. If you want to use asphalt shingles, choose architectural shingles.

Architectural shingles are considered "quality" level materials. When choosing your asphalt architectural-grade shingles, thicker shingles are generally better in quality. You can also check how many years the warranty lasts.

Just make sure your roof can hold up the heavier, thicker shingles. Don't forget to factor in the weight of snow on the roof when winter hits. To be sure you're getting the right product for your house, talk to a roofing expert.

The cost for quality shingles averages $50 to $60 a square.

Custom Grade

Most metal roofs fall into the category of custom grade. Roofs made from aluminum, steel, copper, tin and lead are all high-quality and nearly indestructible. Metal roots have made a strong comeback in recent years. Their excellent quality is reflected in the high price of these materials.

Metal roofs are among the best investment you can make. Copper and steel roofs are nearly indestructible. You can't go wrong with any metal roof, but you have to be sure that your roofing contractor knows how to install it.

The cost for metal roofs starts at $250 a square. 

Ultra-Custom Grade

This category is strictly for those who have extravagant tastes and the budget to pay for them. Ultra-custom materials include those that are heavy, hard to find and difficult to install. Some examples are cement and tile. They look great and last forever. They can also add excess weight to your house.

Another example is slate, which makes a wonderful roofing material and adds a distinctly elegant look. Is it worth its $800 a square price tag? Only you can decide that.


Replacing your roof involves a lot of big decisions. Make it easy on yourself with one call to Last Call Exteriors. We're an award-winning local contractor with hundreds of satisfied customers in Ashburn, Leesburg, Loudoun County and the surrounding areas. Call us for a free roofing consultation today.