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Why (or Not) to Install Rolled Roofing


Roll Roofing

Roll Roofing

Copyright Lowe's
Installing rolled roofing is just about the easiest way to roof a structure. But as with anything in life that is easy, it has disadvantages. More importantly, rolled roofing is intended for specific purposes, and will not work for just any situation.

Let's first look at rolled roofing material, its application, and then how it is installed, to help you better decide.

What Is Rolled Roofing?

The conventional way of roofing a house is with individual composite (asphalt) shingles. Rolled roofing is essentially the same material but thinner and installed in long strips.

Several types of roll roofing are used as supplements to other roofing materials; one example is saturated felt, which is builders-grade felt impregnated with asphalt, and used mainly as underlayment. But the type of roofing material we are referring to in this article is a stand-alone material often called mineral-surfaced roll roof.

Sizing and Cost

A roofing roll will be one "square" (100 sq. ft.) and about 36 feet long by 36 inches wide. So in terms of quantity, a roofing roll is commensurate with a composite shingle "square."

Black roll roofing, at the very low end, will cost about $35-$40 per square (100 sq. ft.).


Rolled roof is used on roofs that are low-sloped. If your roof pitch declines 2 inches or less vertically per 12 feet horizontally, it is a candidate for roll roofing.

It is also used on roofs where aesthetics aren't much of a consideration, such as worksheds, garages, out-buildings, and the like. Because low-slope roofs are less visible due to their angle, this type of material works well here.

Pros and Cons of Rolled Roof

  • Least expensive roofing material, even compared to low-cost composite shingles.
  • Best, and sometimes the only, way of covering low-incline roofs.
  • Applies quickly.
  • Good for protecting against rainwater.
  • Little variety of colors.
  • Generally considered a less attractive roofing material than shingles or other types of roofing systems.
  • Short lifespan of about 5-8 years. Compare this to a lifespan of about 20 years or even more for composite shingles.
  • Poor resale value on residences using this type of material.
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