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How do roofers calculate squares?

When it comes to roofing, accurate measurements are paramount to ensure the right amount of materials is used, costs are calculated correctly, and the project is executed efficiently. Roofers commonly use the term “squares” to quantify the size of a roof and estimate the materials needed. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of roofing measurements, explaining how roofers calculate squares and why it’s a fundamental aspect of any roofing project.

Understanding the Concept of Roofing Squares

In roofing terminology, a “square” is a unit of measurement used to quantify roofing materials. One square is equivalent to 100 square feet of roof area. Roofers use squares to simplify calculations and provide a standardized way to discuss the size of a roofing project.

Step-by-Step Calculation of Roofing Squares

  • Measure the Roof Area: The first step in calculating squares is to measure the total area of the roof. Roofers typically measure both the length and width of each section of the roof in feet.
  • Convert Measurements to Square Feet: Multiply the length by the width of each section to find the square footage. For example, if a section of the roof is 20 feet long and 10 feet wide, the square footage is 200 square feet.
  • Combine Sections: Add up the square footage of all the sections to get the total square footage for the entire roof.
  • Convert to Squares: Divide the total square footage by 100 to determine the number of squares needed. For instance, if the total square footage is 1,500 square feet, you would need 15 squares of roofing materials (1,500 square feet ÷ 100 square feet per square = 15 squares).

Why Use Squares?

Using squares as a unit of measurement offers several advantages in the roofing industry:

  • Simplicity: Squares provide a straightforward way to communicate and calculate roofing measurements, simplifying the estimation process.
  • Consistency: Standardizing measurements in squares ensures uniformity across the industry, making it easier for contractors and suppliers to understand project requirements.
  • Precision: Working in squares allows roofers to make accurate material estimates, reducing the risk of underestimating or overordering materials.

Factors Affecting Square Calculation

Several factors can influence how roofers calculate squares, including:

  • Roof Pitch: Steeper roofs may require additional materials due to the increased surface area.
  • Waste Allowance: Roofers often factor in a waste allowance to account for trimming, mistakes, or irregularities in the roof.
  • Material Overlap: Certain roofing materials may have overlapping requirements, affecting the number of squares needed.


Understanding how roofers calculate squares is fundamental for anyone involved in the roofing industry, from contractors to homeowners planning a roofing project. Accurate measurements ensure that the right amount of materials is ordered, reducing waste and contributing to the overall efficiency of the project. Whether you’re collaborating with a roofing professional or tackling a project yourself, grasping the concept of roofing squares is an essential step in achieving successful and cost-effective roofing outcomes.