What Is a Roofing Square?

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 12, 2024

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Knowing what to expect during a roofing project can help you feel more empowered and confident, even if you’re new to the world of home improvement and don’t know anything about roofing a house. One component to understand when installing a new roof or updating an existing one is the concept of a roofing square. A roofing square is one of the factors that go into determining the cost of your new roof. This guide will provide a handy reference point, breaking down what a roofing square is and how it’s calculated.

Understanding Roofing

A roof is one of the most important parts of your home. It provides safety and security, protecting you and your loved ones from the elements and helping ensure you feel comfortable. There are many different types of roof shingles, but in general, most roofs include shingles, ridge vents, a roof deck—which provides the structural foundation—and eaves, which compose the lower border of the roof that slightly hangs over the outer wall of your home.

Routine maintenance can help your roof stay in good condition. It’s recommended to have a professional roofing contractor examine your roof at least once a year. You might need more frequent inspections if you experience severe storms or high winds in your area. Regular inspections enable you to identify and address potential problems, including missing shingles or leaks, before they become major issues. Sometimes, an entirely new roof is necessary. This is often the case if your roof has sustained major damage after a storm or existed for more than two or three decades. While replacing a roof can be costly, it can increase the value of your home.

What Is a Roofing Square?

A roofing square is a unit of measure that helps roofers figure out how much your new roof should cost. A roofing square is a 10-foot-by-10-foot area equal to approximately 100 square feet of roof surface. The amount of roof squares on your roof determines the materials and labor required to replace your roof.

The more roof squares your roof has, the more the new roof will cost. If you have a big home with a large roof, count on having more roof squares than a smaller space.

How Is a Roofing Square Calculated?

The only exact way to determine how large your roof is in square feet is to have a professional roofing contractor measure it. However, you can get a roofing square estimate by calculating your roof’s total square footage and dividing it by 100. Here are a few steps to help you determine how many roofing squares you need:

  1. Before you can get the square footage of your roof, make sure you can safely access your roof—if you can’t, hire a professional roofing contractor to do it.
  2. Gather a measuring tape, level, pen, paper, ladder, and personal protective equipment—such as nonslip footwear, gloves, and safety harnesses—before you ascend your roof.
  3. Securely position the ladder against your home, and anchor yourself to your home’s roof with the safety harness.
  4. Measure the length and width of your roof with the measuring tape, and record these measurements.
  5. Once you’ve measured the length and width of each section of your roof at least twice, multiply the width by the length of each section to calculate the square footage.
  6. After you have the square footage, divide it by 100. For example, if your roof’s square footage is 1,400, divide it by 100 to get a total of 14 roofing squares.

Types of Roofing Materials

Many types of roofing materials exist, from asphalt to slate, and most are sold in bundles. For most homeowners, three or four bundles are enough to cover one roofing square. 

Here’s a look at a few of the most popular roofing material options:

Asphalt Shingles

One of the most popular types of roofing materials, particularly in North America, asphalt shingles are fairly lightweight but durable and often come with a 20- to 30-year warranty. Most roofing companies are familiar with asphalt shingles and can install them fairly quickly in just one or two days. Asphalt shingles also come in a wide variety of colors and styles and can be matched to the style and aesthetic of almost any home.

Metal Roofing

Sustainable and durable, metal roofing has been gaining popularity in recent years. Metal roofing is particularly popular in areas that experience heavy snowfall or are prone to wildfires due to its extreme durability. It’s insect-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about ants or termites getting in through your roof and infesting your space.

A big benefit of metal roofing is that it’s energy efficient and recyclable, making it a good choice for environmentally conscious homeowners. 

Slate Roofing

Slate roofing is one of the most durable materials on the market. Attractive and versatile, slate roofing is common on luxury homes and properties with uniquely shaped roofs. Since slate roofing is a premium material, it requires special skills to install, and not every roofing company will have contractors who are adept at installing this type of roofing properly.

Our Recommendation

Understanding the concept of a roofing square can help you better grasp what’s required in your roofing project. While the only foolproof way to figure out how many roofing squares are on your roof is to have a roofing contractor evaluate your home, you can also take some measurements yourself by calculating the total square footage of your roof and dividing it by 100.

What Is a Roofing Square FAQ

What does 20 squares mean in roofing?

Twenty squares in roofing means that your roof is approximately 2,000 square feet.

What does a square mean on a roof?

A square on a roof is a unit of measurement used to calculate the time, labor, and materials needed for a roofing project. A roofing square is equivalent to 100 square feet of the roof.

How much is one square on a roof?

One square on a roof is the amount of material needed to cover 100 square feet of roof area. A roofing square is the unit of measurement used by roofers and contractors to determine how much labor and materials they should use for a roofing project.

How do I calculate the number of squares for my roof?

To calculate the number of squares for your roof, take the total square footage of your roof and divide it by 100. If you’re curious about how to measure a roof for shingles, you can get the measurements by measuring the length and width of your roof’s surface area. However, hiring a roofing contractor is the only way to get accurate measurements.