What is a Roofing Square?

What is a roofing square?

If you’ve ever dealt with a roofer or roofing insurance claim, then you’ve likely come across the term “roofing square.” So what is it? 

Simple! At its core, a “square” is a 10×10 area of your roof. In other words, one square is equal to 100 square feet. An insurance company uses this measurement to determine the cost of a new roof replacement, while a roofing company will order these dimensions to order the appropriate amount of new shingles for a roof.

On average, most homes these days are about 20-25 squares. However, there are a few factors determining how many roofing squares a home might be. 

What determines a square?

The biggest of these is the steepness of a roof. Let’s say you have two houses that are both 2000 square feet. The first house’s roof is a standard A-frame shape, not too steep… let’s say it is 20 squares. The second roof has a bigger pitch, which means it’s steeper. Though the houses are the same square footage, that second house’s roof might be 5 squares bigger than the first, simply because the steepness of the roof can add more square footage. 

Now let’s add some dimension to the second roof, so that it has a few valleys, maybe a dormer window… that will further increase the number of squares on the roof. Perhaps it adds another 5 squares. 

Though you began with two houses with identical square footage, the measurements of the roofs end up being very different. The second one could be 10 or more squares larger than the first! 

It’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking at redoing your roof or if you have damage that will lead to you replacing some (or all!) or your shingles. A flatter roof with less valleys and shape to it, will almost always cost less than a steeper roof. 

How to figure out the size of your roof in squares

If you have a simple roof, such as a gable roof, you can do a few rough estimates to work out how many squares your roof might be. This is for the DIY roofer! Simply, take the length of your roof and multiple it by the width. Then multiply it by 2 in order to double your total for the other side of the house. 

For example, if the length of one house was 12 feet, and the width of the roof running from the top down was 10 feet, then that side of the roof would be 1200 square feet. To account for the other half of the roof, 1200 x 2 = 2400 square feet. You simply divide by 100 to change the units from square feet into squares. So for this gable roof, you roughly have one that is 24 squares. 

Of course, when roofing, you have to account for some waste, which adds about 10-15% on the roofing project. If the roof isn’t basic, but has a lot of dimension to it, then this quick form of measuring becomes less accurate. 

Insurance companies and roofers have programs that can analyze all the dimensions of a roof to give an exact estimate for squares, and therefore, the cost of replacing a roof. However, you can certainly get an idea from that mathematical trick! 

If you’re curious about how squares relate to bundles, it comes from the way shingles are ordered for your roof. Your standard and common shingle types are ordered in a “bundle.” Three bundles come in one square. So to replace the 24 square house in the example, roughly 72 bundles of shingles would be needed. 

Will a roofer tell me my roof size in squares?

If you’re ever curious about your roof, ask a local roofing company! Most offer free roof inspections. While the roofer is there, he can take your house’s specific measurements and give you the exact answer for how many square feet the roof is. 

Hopefully, this is helpful for the DIY roofer or simply the careful homeowner who likes to be able to be informed about their house’s maintenance. Now, you can tell your neighbors you know what a roofing square is and why it matters! 


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