Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Roof Replacement | Roof Cost

3 Ways Cheap Roof Systems Cost More in the Long Run

April 21st, 2023 | 7 min. read

3 Ways Cheap Roof Systems Cost More in the Long Run

Print/Save as PDF

There's more to a roof than just the shingles you see. All the components that make a complete roof system impact the life of your roof as much as the shingles. That makes getting a quality roof system crucial to your roof investment

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been installing high-quality roof systems for over 30 years. We’ve seen the costly consequences of customers trying to get the cheapest roof system possible. Never one to shy away from educating current or future customers, I explain why you should invest in a quality roof system instead of one made up of the cheapest components. 

A cheap roof system affects the final quality of your roof, the life of your roof, and the warranties that are available. In this article, you’ll learn how getting the cheapest roof system not only affects the quality of your roof but will cost more in the long term with all the repairs that it’ll need.

What is a roof system?

Before we get to the problems with a cheap roof system, you need to know what components come together to form a roof system. Including the shingles (or other roofing material), a roof is made up of the following roofing components and materials:

  • Underlayment: Felt used over decking to provide additional protection.
  • Decking: the wooden boards that make up the framing of your roof.
  • Drip edge: metal flashing installed at the edges of the roof to keep water away from your fascia and from getting underneath your roofing components.
  • Ice and water shield: The waterproof membrane used to protect valleys on a roof from ice and water damage.
  • Starter shingles: Asphalt-based shingles used to waterproof eaves and rakes. 
  • Roofing material: The top layer of your roof that is visible to the outside world.
  • Roof flashing: metal that directs water away from certain areas (walls, chimneys, roof valleys) of your roof. 
  • Roof vents and ventilation system: There are two types of ventilation systems, active and passive. Active ventilation means the air is pulled in from the outside and pushed out from the inside. Passive ventilation means the air in the attic is moved by natural sources, such as wind.
  • Pipe boot: A synthetic rubber boot that goes around the base of certain roof penetrations to prevent leaks.
  • Ridge capping: The trim installed at the peak where the two slopes of a roof meet. 

Together, these 10 components form a roof system. Now that we’ve gone over what makes a roof system, I’ll explain the difference between getting a manufacturer’s roof system and a cheap roof system. 

What’s a manufacturer’s roof system?

A manufacturer’s roof system is when all of the roofing components come from one manufacturerLet's say you're getting a CertainTeed Landmark Pro asphalt shingle roof. 

In this scenario, your shingles and their other main components must come from CertainTeed. This ensures you know where the components are coming from, keeps the entire roof under the umbrella of one manufacturer, and allows you to get an enhanced warranty (more on that later).  

What’s a cheap roof system? 

The opposite of a manufacturer’s roof system is, what we call in our office, a Frankenstein roof system. This means all the roof system's components come from different generic manufacturers at the cheapest price available. 

It’s like buying a Ferrari, but the engine is built with mixed parts from Honda and Toyota. This may seem like an extreme example, but some homeowners buy an expensive shingle and cheap out on the rest of the components. 

3 costly problems with a cheap roof system 

You now know the difference between a manufacturer’s roof system and "Frankenstein" roof system. Now it's time to learn how a cheap roof system affects the end quality of your roof. 

Let’s break down why a cheap roof system costs more in the long run.

1. You get the quality you pay for 

The first problem with a cheap roof system is that you get the quality of roof that the cheap price point allows. I fully understand everyone is on a budget, and some are on tighter ones than others.

However, you’re setting your roof investment up for problems right off the bat by getting the cheapest components available. While the manufacturer’s roof system components are already more expensive because of the quality, the cost difference also comes down to labor.

improperly installed architectural asphalt shingle roof(Improperly installed asphalt shingle roof)

You won't choose the cheapest roof system and then hire the most expensive crew to put it on. This guarantees you get the cheapest labor to install your new roof.

You’ll probably get air gun nailing, 3 tab shingles used as ridge capping, and even some crucial components being left off completely.

If this happens, your roof system will cost more in the long run with repairs and, eventually, a full roof replacement before you should need one. Getting the cheapest roof possible might seem like your only option, but there are ways to afford a new roof without breaking the bank. 

But if you want to take the risk on a cheap roof system, keep a good roofer’s phone number handy when the problems start to show up.  

2. Going cheap affects the life of your roof

Just like cheap components and labor affect your roof's quality, they also impact your roof’s lifespan. If you get a cheap roof system, I guarantee your roof will not reach its full lifespan

Problems might not show up right away, but your roof will eventually have leaks. And because you invested in cheap labor, I doubt the roofing contractor's workmanship warranty will still be in effect to take care of the problem.

This means more money out of your pocket and investing in a new roof sooner than expected. On the other hand, a manufacturer’s roof system will live as long as the materials on the roof hold up if they were properly installed.

Depending on the type of roofing material, this could be 25, 30, or even 50 years. A cheap roof system might be tempting on a tight budget, but I guarantee your roof will have problems and leaks well before the roofing materials fail.

3. You can only rely on your roofing contractor's workmanship warranty

Each roofing component comes with a material warranty. But when you use all the components from one manufacturer, you can register your roof system with them to receive an enhanced warranty

This enhanced warranty guarantees they’ll cover labor, materials, dump fees, non-prorated for 50 years if there is a defect in the materials. If even one of their components has a problem or goes bad, they’ll pay to replace the roof.

It’s also transferable to the next homeowner, depending on the manufacturer, for 12 to 15 years. When getting a cheap roof system, you won’t qualify for this enhanced warranty.

Which only leaves you with your roofing contractor's workmanship warranty to cover your entire roof system. But because you used the cheapest components, materials, and labor, you won't get a good workmanship warranty. 

You’ll probably get anywhere from a tail light warranty (as soon as you see the tail lights disappear, your warranty is gone) to a two-year or possibly a five-year warranty.  

But it’s doubtful a contractor will give more than a five-year warranty for something they know will have continuous problems down the road. Their goal is to get through the warranty period before your roof fails.

At the end of the day, a cheap roof system only leaves you with your contractor’s workmanship warranty to fall back on. And if you don’t hire a reputable contractor that honors their workmanship warranty, any repairs or replacement will come out of your wallet. 

How much will your new roof system cost?

A manufacturer’s roof system should be what every reputable contractor recommends. A manufacturer-registered roof system is more costly, but it’s well worth the investment for the quality, enhanced warranty, and life you get out of it.

The important thing is to not let the price of your new roof scare you into getting the cheapest roof system you can find. But how much will you actually have to invest in a quality roof system?

Unfortunately, the roofing industry doesn't like to talk about pricing. But we're not like other roofing companies.

That's why I wrote another article breaking down how much you'll have to invest in a new roof. 

Check out this article on How Much a New Roof Costs to learn the size of your roof investment and the budget you'll need for a quality roof.  

roof cost calculator

Table Of Contents

Related Articles