Should You Repair or Replace Your Roof?
Making the right decisions about your roof ensures your home’s optimal performance and safeguards your peace of mind.
The first decision is whether to simply patch leaks and damaged areas or whether partial or complete reroofing is in order. If you choose the latter, you’ll also have to decide whether to roof over your existing roof or whether to remove it. There are cost consequences either way.
Going the Repair Route
Replacing shingles due to wind damage or a fallen limb is a relatively easy and inexpensive. Torn or damaged shingles can be removed, and new ones can be slipped in place. The downside is that unless your roof is relatively new and you happen to have saved some spare shingles from the job, your patch job may not match the existing roof. But that is a small price to pay if the repair would extend the life of your current roof for another 10 or 15 years! However, if you plan to sell your home in the next few years, ask your contractor to order shingles that match as closely as possible. A roof with a prominent patch is unattractive and will not inspire a potential buyer’s confidence.
Partial Reroofing Is an Option Too
If the damage is more significant but confined to one side of the roof, partial reroofing is an option that will cost thousands of dollars less than doing the entire roof. Repairing a section of roofing will also make it easier to blend new with old, because slight color differences will be less noticeable.
Counter to intuition, partial reroofing jobs are more expensive on a cost per square (a 10′ x 10′ area) basis. They can create added problems, too. For example, if an asphalt roof already has two or more layers, all layers will have to be removed in order for the partial re-roofing to proceed. So in addition to increased labor and disposal costs, you may face the possibility of a lopsided effect at ridges, with the old roof ending up a couple of inches higher than the new one. Even when built up with a course of shingles and covered with a ridge cap, the hump may still be noticeable.
Repairing Vs Replacing Your Roof
Certainly, there are pros and cons to each approach. To help you make the best decision, here is a list of questions you should answer first:
- What time constraints are you under? If there aren’t any, you can choose either option. But if you need to fix a leaky roof by next weekend or you’re leaving on vacation in a couple weeks, you may not have time to wait for a contractor to schedule a roof replacement.
- How old is your roof? If it’s relatively new or even in the middle of its life cycle, a repair might be okay. But if it has a 20-year warranty and it’s 18 years old, replacing the whole roof may be the way to go.
- How big of an area is currently in need of repair? If you only need to fix one or two small areas, you can probably have a roof repair man out there that day to fix the problem. If it’s more than, say, 30 percent of your roof, you might strongly consider a roof replacement.
- What’s the additional cost to replace your entire roof? For example, it might cost you $4,000 to repair the front side of your roof — but replacing the whole roof might only run you $6800. In this case, a roof replacement is a better value. You can also consider going through insurance. If your roof is damaged enough to get approved, the insurance company will pay for the roof replacement while you are only responsible for your deductible.
- How important is it that your roof remains the exact same color? Any new shingles will not precisely match the same hue as your existing ones because of weathering from the elements. If your roof is highly visible and you don’t want mismatched shingles, you’d better replace the whole roof.
- Do you have any moisture damage to your roof deck? If the underside and supports of your roof show significant moisture damage, shingling over them won’t solve the problem. Roof replacements can include fixing these areas, so that’s likely your best option.
- Do you need to replace your gutters as well? If it’s time to install new gutters, it may be more convenient for a contractor to just rip off the old guttering, lay down a new roof, and put on a new gutter system all at once.
Common Roofing Material Choices
For residences, the five most common roofing material options are asphalt, metal, slate, tile, and wood. Each of these materials can be either repaired or replaced when damage occurs, but their individual characteristics and life expectancy will play a huge role in which is the most cost-effective route for you!
- Asphalt Shingles are easily the most popular roofing material choice in the nation. While cheap, dependable, and easy to install, asphalt shingles are also one of the least durable options on the market.
- Wood Roofing is not near as popular as it once was. Though its aesthetic appearance is second to none, wood roofing materials are more expensive than asphalt and require more maintenance than most other roofing materials.
- Metal Roofing is gaining popularity as a roofing material. Though older metal roofing was rightfully accused of being noisy during rain showers, subject to rust, and a poor insulator, today’s metal roofing provides homeowners with an excellent balance of affordability and durability.
- Tile Roofing is extremely popular in certain areas of the country. Very expensive and very durable, tile roofing is an investment that will not only make your home more attractive, but raise its value, as well.
- Slate Roofing is pretty much the alpha and omega of roofing material options. When it comes to durability, nothing can match it; its appearance isn’t for everyone, and whole it has been known to last for more than 100 years, its incredibly high price tag makes slate a material that most homeowners find cost-prohibitive.
Factors To Consider In Deciding Whether To Repair Or Replace
- You roof’s age is one of the most important considerations. Most asphalt shingles have a lifespan of about 15 – 30 years. If the roof is damaged but most of it is still in good shape, a spot repair may make sense. But, if the roof is approaching (or past) 20 years old, replacing it may be the better way to go long-term.
- If there’s a leak somewhere, an inspection will help you determine how widespread it is. Often, roofs will leak along flashing points. If this is the case, and the leak is isolated, a quick repair may be all that is necessary. If the roof is leaking in several places, a roofing replacement may be in order.
- Give some thought to how long you intend to be in the home. If you’re planning to sell in the next few years, and the roof is in generally good condition, it may make more sense to have repairs done.
- If you opt to replace your roof, you may be able to incorporate environmentally-friendly features that qualify for local or federal tax credits to offset the cost. Also, new materials are generally more energy efficient, last longer, and perform better so an upgrade is desirable long-term.