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What is the cost of replacing roof felt under tiles?

The cost of replacing roof felt under tiles in a domestic property starts from around £250 or so if you're looking to just repair a small patch. Prices can range from £3,000 through to around £8,000 for a full roof depending on several factors as explained in this article. Due to the costs, homeowners generally opt to replace the roof tiles at the same time.

Last Updated: September 2022

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Even if you are just replacing the felt, there are many different factors which can affect the cost including the size of the roof and whether you are retaining the existing tiles or renewing them. You will also need to factor in the cost of support materials such as scaffolding. The complexity of the roof is also relevant, for example, if you have dormer windows positioned within the roof slope, then more time will be taken to refit tiles around these structures. We've listed the top factors that can affect the cost of replacing roof felt under tiles:

  • Why should you replace your roof felt?
  • What is the process of re-felting a roof?
  • What exactly will you be paying for?
  • Other considerations that could affect roof felt costs
  • Get roof felt quotes from reputable suppliers

Why should you replace your roof felt?

When leaks start and damp patches appear around upstairs windows or on bedroom ceilings, the culprit could be broken tiles or it could be roof felting past its best.

Roofing felt first appeared nearly a century ago.  Its function was to act as a protective barrier before the main roof was fitted during the construction of the house.  It also acted as a secondary barrier to protect against wind, rain and snow which could be driven under the eaves of the house once the build was complete.  The original roof felt used was impermeable to water and without adequate ventilation and so condensation would build up on the underside of the felt. Pools of moisture could then drop onto the attic or loft floor and appear as damp patches on the ceilings of upstairs rooms.

The problem was solved in the 1980s with the introduction of a breathable membrane which considerably reduced the issue of condensation.  Water vapour can simply evaporate through the permeable membrane. However, most houses have thick layers of insulation in their lofts so the roof void is often kept much colder meaning water is more likely to condense rather than less.

If you have old roofing felt, eventually it will become brittle and perish.  Patch repairs over the years will only work for so long before the whole roof will need stripping and entirely re-felting.  Many Victorian properties were built without roofing felt and are still without it today but roof felt can help protect a roof from weathering.  Roof felt can reduce the impact of the wind loading onto the slates or tiles. It will also provide a waterproof barrier which means if you do have any broken tiles or slates, the ingress of water will not penetrate through into the roof space and affect the rooms below.  Roof felt can also provide an extra layer of insulation to prevent heat escape from the building.

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What is the process of re-feltting a roof?

The re-felting process involves several key steps, each step needing its own component, adding to the overvall cost of the project.

Firstly, scaffolding is erected and the existing slates or tiles are removed and either discarded as waste or put to one side to be re-used.

The old felt is stripped from the roof and any rotten roof timbers are replaced.  A new breathable membrane is fitted by nailing directly onto the rafters and this is held in place with battens fixed over the top.  The roof is retiled or re-slated using the battens to secure them, with new flashing around chimney stacks and any roof features like dormer windows or skylights.

What exactly will you be paying for?

Any quotation you receive should include a breakdown of the costs between materials and labour. You should expect the materials cost to include:

  • Scaffolding – the supply and erection followed by dismantling when the job is finished
  • Felting - felt is the generic term and it did use to be actual felt but modern materials are different now, your roofer will use a breathable membrane 
  • Battens – these help fix the felt to the rafters and act as securing point for the tiles or slates when they are replaced
  • Tiles – it can actually cost more to strip a roof and put the tiles aside carefully to replace in labour terms than to chuck them in a skip and put new ones on.  If you have a few broken tiles or slates, chances are that when your builder starts work on the roof they will find more and these will need replacing anyway
  • Skip hire - the cost of hire and associated waste disposal costs

Other considerations that could affect roof felt costs

Roof Complexity

Complex roofs are always going to take longer to re-felt and tile than a straightforward pitch.  If your roof has dormer windows then these will need additional attention. Also, if you have chimneys then the flashing will need to be replaced at the point where the roof tiles meet the chimney stack and the same applies to the join between skylights or Velux windows and the roof tiles.

Hidden Damage

Sometimes when the roof is stripped off, it may reveal damaged or rotten roof timbers. This can bump up costs of roof leak repair as these will need to be repaired or renewed before the rest of the work on the roof can be completed.

New Roof Tiles

Some homeowners decide to use this as an opportunity to re-tile or slate the roof so you will need to factor in the cost of new tiles particularly if you are going for something expensive or unusual.  Slates are more expensive than most modern tiles and this cost increases because they have to be double lapped in order to present a watertight finish. Tiles are either made from clay or concrete.  

Period Property

If you have a period home then you want to stick with tradition and re-use your current tiles patching in any that are broken or chipped with some from architectural salvage.  If your house is listed or in a conservation area then any work you do to it including the roof will need to be in keeping with the style and age of the property. Unless you are making nothing more than a very minor repair, you will likely need listed building consent before you do the work even if you intend to replace all the original tiles or slates on top of new felt.

Time of the year

When looking at the cost of re-roofing a house, it can be cheaper to opt to re-roof your house in the autumn or winter months although you are taking a risk with the weather.  Many roofers are less busy during this period and it can make quotes more competitive. However, the downside of this strategy is a delay to the work due to bad weather such as high winds or a period of wet weather and this can increase the overall time the job takes as well impacting on labour costs.  

Insulation Needed

Some people take the opportunity to renew their loft insulation or upgrade or reinstate old guttering  - a refurbished roof is, after all, only as effective as the rainwater goods it drains into and it can be a false economy not to replace these once the roof is finished.

A good job on your roof will positively impact the value of your property and this is why many householders end up adding to the specification of works with extra roof jobs particularly whilst there is scaffolding in place.  Not only will a sound roof protect the integrity of your home for years to come but it will enhance and even increase its value if you are thinking of selling. Structural works which are done well are never a false economy.  

If you need find out more information on the costs of replacing roof felt under tiles, get in touch with us today. For more information on replacing roof felt and the potential for asbestos in roof felt, see guidance from the Health and Safety Executive and Ashford council. Try our roof cost calculator to see how much your roofing project could cost.

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