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Best Roofing Types for Rental Properties

January 30, 2023

Reviewing Roofing Types for Rental Properties

When landlords (and some property management companies) consider buying a rental property, one of the important criteria is the condition of the structure’s roof.

A worn, leaky roof promises a host of problems whereas a beautiful roof is a glorious crown on a desirable home.  And as we see in this post, there’s some durable and beautiful roof coverings that will build asset value and attract better renters.

No Inspections Means Big Costs

Yet, many homeowners and rental owners don’t inspect the roof with any frequency to find leaks and other matters that can result in big costs. Often shingles are missing, gutters are plugged, fascia has openings for bugs, flashings are leaking, and there’s big heat loss happening in the winter.

If the roof has been left to deteriorate, it may mean the landlord is letting everything run down in the house and they plan to sell it in a few years. By not repairing anything, their repair ROI is 100%. For some investors, that decision makes sense, and it’s an opportunity for rental investors to cite it in negotiations.

Sometimes only a few repairs are needed while at other times a new roof is the best long term decision. A new roof eliminates roof-related maintenance issues, prevents structure damage or damaged insulation and mold damage. In the case of soggy, moldy insulation or water damaged rotting timber, the remediation cost can be painful. After suffering a budget hit for roofing, many landlords start taking inspections and roof selection a little more seriously.

And after a severe wind and ice storm, many landlords feel much more confident with a professionally installed roof. Finding the best type of roof covering is a process of selecting the benefits you need.

Big Decisions on Roofing

Since roofs can cost from $10,000 for a do it yourself project to $50,000+ for a full professional quality roof rebuild, the matter can result in landlords having to sell their rental property. And that ruins their long term business goals. They must start over again with a higher priced property.

Of course, a bad roof could be the catalyst for dumping a poor performing property. Always a silver lining with any event.

Given the health and safety regulations in effect in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Switzerland and Germany, all threats from the roof need to be addressed by the landlord or property manager.

If not tenant safety or asset protection reasons, then you’ll need to calculate the return on investment when planning a roof repair. If you let it go, what will your rent yields be? And if you put a new roof on, how much higher rent could you charge? How much will it increase the resale value? How much will you save on maintenance work?

It’s not a short term investment thing.

Rental property landlords typically choose roofing for low cost, long term durability, ease of installation, warranties, and based on what they’re permitted to use.

Zillow’s look at Common low cost Replacement Roofing products:

This is Zillow’s projected ROI on the value of the home, not on future rent revenue. Landlords can deduct the cost of the new roof on taxes, and may even qualify for government grants.

Replacement – asphalt shingles

  • Average national cost: $22,636
  • Average resale value: $15,247
  • ROI: 68.2%

Replacement – metal roofing

  • Average national cost: $38,600
  • Average resale value: $23,526
  • ROI: 60.9%

When you consider rent is often $36,000 a year in some cities, it might amount to one year’s revenue. That might be the best ratio it’s ever been.

Roofing Price Estimate Calculator

Roofing Cost Calculator.

Roofing Calculator. Pic courtesy of

You can visit to use their calculator for the final cost based on your rental’s roof size and pitch, height and complexity.

Cost depends on your state and zip code too.

Do It Yourself Roofing is Likely a Poor Option

It’s possible to conduct a do it yourself installation of a roof, as many landlords do with a friend or employee. Some roofing is too difficult as DIY projects. Specialized tools and expertise is needed. And let’s not forget the danger in a roof project.

And, if you are considering selling the property at some point, the DIY installation could reduce your resale value. You might call that asset depreciation.

New Roofing Products to Choose From

And there’s plenty of new products, accessories, and features that the roofing pros can help you integrate into your new roof.

Your roof does a lot for the home. View it as a system that helps insulate from wind, ice and hot sun, seal and protect, provide proper ventilation, and perhaps provide a source of revenue (solar panels and shingles).

The roof contains roof boarding, ice and water barrier, and then shingles (or metal or ceramic tiles), along with the gutter system. It’s a complete roofing system that will protect your asset from all sorts of harsh weather, heat, moisture and pest threats.

When To Decide to Install a New Roof

What could be encountered on your roof that says it needs replacement?

  • visible water damage and mold in the attic
  • roof is sagging
  • hail damage
  • dark patches on the roof
  • many missing or broken shingles
  • decaying, warped shingles
  • roof ventilation is missing (old roofs)
  • worn sections that show through to the roof boards
  • shingles have lost their granules
  • heavy gutter build up of materials and shingle surface granules
  • moss on the roof
  • shingles are curled up
  • chimney and skylight flashing is beat up and has leaks
  • the current installation was a do it yourself project by the homeowner and not done professionally
  • insulation in the attic and exterior walls needs to be redone
  • the roof looks old (20 years) and worn and is unattractive (curb appeal)
  • signs of wood rot
  • termite damage on rafters
  • ceilings are sagging downward
  • nearby houses or adjoined townhouses are getting their roof replaced

One or two indications by themselves of course doesn’t mean you must suffer the huge hit to your property budget. It might wait for a another couple years.

You likely need to have an inspector take a look at the roof surface and structure along with the fascia and gutter too.

Those inspections won’t be that expensive.  The roof inspector has seen a lot of roofs and can present all the details which you can provide to the landlord or next owner of the property (if you’re selling).

Top Roofing Types for Houses

In this post, we describe roofing options for single family detached and row townhouses. You would need to consult  local building codes to learn which are permitted in your rental neighborhoods.

There really is no “best roofing products and systems” as it depends on your unique property, financial goals, and budget. New advanced shingle roofs might work wonderfully, or the new solar shingles might be right for some properties in the southwestern US or Australia.

Most Common Roofing Surfaces

  1. Asphalt Shingles – typically the cheapest form of shingle made from paper, wood, cardboard, or even fiberglass. The shingles are made in different tabbed forms which allow stronger interlinking which makes the roof more protective and durable. Cost: $3.60 to $5.00 /sq ft. They last about 10 to 20 years. There are special types of asphalt shingles which deliver added benefits in strength, appearance, heat reflection, and durability. Those using reflective granules in the top coating help to deflect heat away which can reduce summertime A/C bills.
  2. Synthetic Shingles – Composite roof shingles, shakes, and tiles are about 25% higher price vs cedar shakes but last longer, up to 25 years. They may contain high amounts of post-consumer, recycled plastics. They can sometimes be installed on top of current asphalt shingle roofs if they’re in good condition. Cost may run from $4.00 to $5.55 per sq ft.
  3. Wood Shakes or Shingles – Wood roofs of any kind are likely going to be the last choice of a rental property owner due to the fire risk and the higher cost and cost of maintenance and repairs. Wood shakes are thicker than wood shingles. There are are two main types:  handsplit and resawn, and tapersawn.  Wood shingles are thinner and are hand sawn smooth on both sides and cut tapered. Cost can range from $4.00 to $5.55 /sq ft.
  4. Solar Shingles – these are an exciting, new and evolving roofing technology that has the potential to collect solar power, an exciting prospect for green conscious buyers. There may be rebate programs in your state or country for using them. Solar roof tiles contain Photovoltaic materials like monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells and they are linked together to form an electric power circuit. Price may range from $140 – $220 /square, however they require a solar power system too. It’s the only roofing that pays you back. Given the high cost of electricity is some states, this can be financially viable option and one tenants are sure to love. Learn more about Tesla Solar Roofs.
  5. Metal Roofing – metal roofs may contain steel, copper, aluminum, and zinc which have the surface galvanized which prevents oxidization (rust). Some are also offered with paint such as PVDF or SMP. They are used for how cheap they are but may not be suitable or allowable in residential or commercial applications. They can be made and colored to look like other roofing types. The price ranges from $8.95 to $14.70 /sq ft. They have excellent protective properties and are fire resistant.
  6. Clay Tiles – an increasingly popular choice yet are very heavy and more pricey to install. Cost is between $5.00 to $15.00 /sq ft. The durability, fire resistance, UV protection, and appearance are strong features buyers want. The tiles come in various shapes which makes installation more time consuming ($300 to $650 in some cases). Flat slate tiles are a little cheaper and still offer benefits of clay.
  7. Concrete Tiles – these are manufactured using a mixture of sand, cement, and water and produced under high heat and pressure. They can mimic the appearance and texture of slate or clay tiles and yet come in at a much lower price point. They are durable, heavy and fire protective and protective against high wind speeds and mid-sized hail stones. The cost comes in at around $9.50 and $23.50/sq ft.

Additional Charges for Roofing Projects

Roofing companies will charge you extra for tearing the old roof down and hauling away the rubble. And you may have to replace some of the roof decking that was rotted or broken. Chimney and skylight flashing can also cause additional costs. The steeper the roof pitch, greater the surface area of the roof, and the more floors, and complexity of your roof, the higher the roofing cost.

Again, it’s impossible to say which is the best roofing for your rental houses, since it depends on local zoning laws, budget/financing, local weather, home price valuation, and your plans for that property.

If you’re going to sell a low-performing property, the cheaper options are best because buyers don’t always care enough about roofs. A new roof is just a roof to the uninitiated.  At the very least, it pays to inspect your property’s roof regularly via your property management software so you’re aware of its ongoing deterioration rate and damage.

Preventative maintenance is a smart practice for landlords and property managers. See more on how you can optimize your property maintenance processes using ManageCasa — PropTech’s most convenient and user-friendly software solutions.


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