Re-Roofing vs Roof Replacement

Depending on when you bought your house, you may be considering if you need a new roof or not. Or maybe a recent storm blew through town, leaving parts of your roof in less-than-ideal condition. There are two directions you could take when it comes to a new roof, but it’s important to look at the pros and cons of re-roofing vs roof replacement.

Re-Roofing vs Roof Replacement

Re-roofing and roof replacement are two distinct processes used to maintain or repair the roof of a building. Re-roofing refers to the process that applies a new layer of roofing material over the existing layer, while roof replacement involves completely removing the existing layer and replacing it with new materials.

What is Re-Roofing?

The choice between re-roofing (sometimes called an overlay) and roof replacement is largely determined by the condition of the existing roof and its ability to accept another layer. If the existing roof is still in good condition, then re-roofing can be an economical way to extend its lifespan without having to replace it entirely.

It may also be used as part of routine maintenance aimed at protecting the integrity of the underlying structures from wear and tear due to weather conditions. Re-roofing can also be used alongside other modifications such as adding ventilation systems or solar panels.

The main advantage of re-roofing is that it requires much less labor than a full roof replacement, making it a more cost-effective option for many property owners. However, this isn’t always an option, as it can be dependent on the type of roofing material you already have on the existing roof.

What is a Roof Replacement?

On the other hand, if there is significant damage or deterioration on an existing roof, then a complete roof replacement may be necessary in order to ensure its structural integrity. This is especially true for roofs made with composite asphalt shingles, which tend to deteriorate after 20 years when exposed to heavy rain, intense sunlight, heavy winds, and other weather.

In these cases, removing all the damaged layers and replacing them with new materials can help protect the structure against future damage while providing improved insulation and energy efficiency benefits as well. Additionally, some insurance companies may offer discounts on premiums for homeowners who have undergone full roof replacements as part of routine maintenance or repair work.

With a roof replacement, your roofing material doesn’t matter nearly as much as it does with a re-roof. Because you’re removing all of the existing shingles, tiles, metal roofing, or whatever other material, you’re free to go with a new roofing material altogether. And you can inspect the roof deck and other parts of the roofing system for damage.

Pros and Cons: Re-Roofing vs. Roof Replacement

Let’s take a closer look at when a re-roof or overlay makes sense and when a roof replacement is a requirement. Let’s take a look at a few points of consideration for your roofing system:

  • Cost
  • The Condition of the Roof
  • Materials Used
  • Structure


Although it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, how much money you’ll be spending will come into play when thinking about the reroof vs roofing replacement discussion. At first glance, a re-roof is a much cheaper option because there are no labor costs for removing the existing layer of shingles.

However, when it comes time for the same decision in 20 years, an overlay won’t be an option, mainly because most roofing contractors won’t add a third layer of shingles. There’s the weight of the shingles to consider and there may be other building codes to think about too.

So all that money you saved on the first overlay will be needed for the additional labor, clean up, and dumping fees with two layers of materials to get rid of. So, are you really saving money in the long run? With a roof replacement, you’re taking care of everything at once, and depending on the lifespan of your new material, you may not need to think about your roof for another 50 years!

The Condition of the Roof

This should be what you pay the most attention to. If there’s any water damage to the deck, if there’s a missing or damaged protective layer of underlayment, or if a large number of shingles are missing, any respectable roofing company will recommend a roof replacement.

Covering up damaged materials doesn’t make the issue suddenly go away–it just kicks the can down the road. Addressing any roofing issues you have in the present will save you huge headaches in the future. And an additional layer of shingles or other materials will make it that much harder to address.

Materials Used

In a large majority of re-roofing situations, it’s a roofing material that lays flat (an architectural or composite asphalt shingle roof for example). Nailing flat shingles over flat shingles is much easier than preparing the roof for other materials, such as metal roofing. And you wouldn’t cover up clay tiles or slate with anything because nailing into those roofing materials would almost certainly damage them.


We mentioned this before, but weight is a considerable factor when it comes to your roofing materials. For example, slate is extremely heavy and can’t be used if the structure isn’t rated for it. Although it’s much lighter, even two layers of composite shingles may be too much weight. The structure also needs to be in good shape if you want to apply another layer of roofing over the top of everything.

In short, each situation will require careful consideration before deciding whether re-roofing or a full replacement is most appropriate. Re-roofing can provide an economical way to extend an existing roof’s lifespan without having to invest in an entirely new one.

But there are situations where this isn’t enough – especially if there has been significant damage caused by weather exposure over time. For your peace of mind, we recommend giving Warner Roofing and Construction a call to perform a roof inspection. When it comes to the first line of defense for your home against the elements, you want to make sure you make the right decision.

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