Pros and Cons of Getting a Roof Over Existing Roof or Re-Roof

If you’ve recently looked at your roof and realized it’s time for a roof replacement, you have options such as re-roof or full roof replacement. This question can be a tough one, and there are certainly pros and cons to each. But which one is right for you? We take a deeper look at each in this post.

Re-roofing (AKA roof over) is your quick fix for your roof when it is failing. Think of it as putting a Band-Aid on a knee scrape. It’s faster, you’re not breaking the bank, and from the street, your house looks as good as new with a brand new roof look. However, here’s the kicker – it’s like covering up old problems without really solving them when you get a re-roof. Plus, there may not be an option at all if you’ve re-roofed your home in the past.

On the flip side, stripping your roof bare and removing all the existing roof materials, while more costly and time-consuming, is like hitting the reset button on your roof. You’re not just covering up old issues; you’re addressing them head-on and will know exactly what’s going on beneath. Plus, it’s a chance to modernize your home, it may even improve energy efficiency.

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Understanding Re-Roofing

When my neighbor dived headfirst into the re-roofing adventure, it was like watching someone trying to cover a stain on their favorite shirt with a trendy jacket. It improved the look, sure, but did it fix the issue? Nope.

Re-roofing jumps into the scene when your roof whispers (or shouts) for help, but isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. It’s an option when your roof’s got a few years left in it but has developed a bit of a personality – a.k.a., a leak here and there. It’s giving your home a quick facelift, making it from “meh” to “wow” with minimal fuss and bother.

But, and it’s a big but, like my neighbor found out, it’s not cutting to the heart of the matter. You slap new shingles on top of the old ones, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Ideal when your wallet’s feeling light and full tear-off sounds like a scene from a horror movie. Yet, when the day’s done, it’s about putting off the inevitable.

In essence, re-roofing is your go-to when you’re not quite ready to commit to the full “roof relationship” overhaul. Keep it in your back pocket for when you need a quick fix, not a lifetime solution. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine, but sometimes you just need to patch the darn thing and call it a day.

Benefits of Re-Roofing

A penny saved is a penny earned, right? This hits close to home when considering the price tag difference between re-roofing and launching a full-scale roof replacement operation. The former, frankly, won’t have you checking your bank account with one eye closed. No more breaking into the piggy bank just to keep the rain out.

Ever heard the saying, “Time is money”? Well, whoever coined that must have known a thing or two about re-roofing. This approach is the hare in a race where the full replacement is the tortoise. We’re talking days, not weeks, of work. You can practically blink and miss the whole process.

And speaking of not noticing, re-roofing is about as intrusive as a neighbor’s cat peeking into your yard. There’s no orchestra of demolition. You won’t find yourself tiptoeing around ladder landmines. It’s business as usual at home while the magic happens overhead.

In essence, opting for a re-roof is like choosing a microwave dinner instead of starting from scratch. Sure, it’s not grandma’s Sunday roast, but it’ll tide you over without the fuss.

Drawbacks of Re-Roofing

The Drawbacks of Re-Roofing might remind you of that old pair of sneakers you can’t bring yourself to throw away. Sure, they cover your feet, and from a distance, they look fine, but only you know the sole is barely hanging on. Like those sneakers, re-roofing isn’t a fix-all. Some leaks are like household ghosts; you might not see them, but boy, do they make themselves known. And just like adding a new layer of shingles might seem like a good idea, it’s a bit like deciding to wear two pairs of socks instead of getting new shoes—it doesn’t really solve the problem; it just covers it up for a while.

Then there’s the whole weight thing. Imagine you decide to carry your groceries, your neighbor’s groceries, and, why not, a few bricks, because, well, they were there. That’s your roof with an extra layer. It sounds doable until your back says, “nope.” Just like your back, your house has a limit on what it can carry before it starts complaining. Adding more weight without checking if it can handle it is a bit like playing Jenga with your house’s structural integrity. Not exactly the kind of game night you were hoping for, right?

Differences Between Re-Roofing Over Existing Roof

Differences Between Re-Roofing Over Existing Roof: Roof Overlay Vs Tear Off

As you can imagine the differences when it comes to reroofing and tear off installation can be huge. While both of these roof installation methods can leave you with a completely new roof that has a warranty attached there are some pros and cons to each. The biggest difference is usually price of the installation and if you’re on a budget, a roof over existing roof may be the best option for you. We’ll take a look at some of the biggest differences and pros and cons of each below:

What Are the Advantages of Roof Replacement Rather Than Re-Roofing

When you get a roof over old roof and the old shingles are left in place:

  • Re-roofing a home is less expensive. When you get a roof over existing roof installed you are eliminating a few costly components of roof installation. The first thing you’ll eliminate is the cost of labor to remove the old roof. Shingle removal can be costly especially for larger homes. Not only that but you’ll have much less debris in the project since you’re not removing the old roof.
  • Fast Installation of the New Roof. For the average size home a new roof installation can take a few days to a week. When getting a re roof on your home you may be able to get a new roof in under a single day.
  • Overall Appearance of the Roof is Good. The biggest concern that most home owners have when it comes to the re roofing project is the appearance after the roof is installed. Most re-roofs can look good but there may be noticeable differences depending on structural factors.
  • You Still Get a Warranty. Most roofing material manufacturers will provide a warranty on their products for the roof install even if the roof installation is a roof over existing roof. In order for the warranty to be honored however, the project must still be done according to local building codes and manufacturers specifications.
  • Two Roofs are Better Than One. Well maybe… Some people think that an additional layer of roofing is better when severe weather strikes such as tornados, hurricanes, or blizzards.

When you get a roof tear off installation:

While there are many advantages of getting a roof over existing roof there are also a few drawbacks. Here are some reasons why a tear off roof installation may be your best option: 

  • Your Home Has Already Been Re-Roofed. Installing a single layer of roofing over the old one can be a good idea, but more than two can be dangerous. Since shingles weigh so much, adding that much weight to the roof of your home can make if unstable and cause a collapse. Most building codes will only allow two layers of roofing, anything more is simply too much. So if you already had a roof over done on your home your only option may be a tear off installation.
  • Major Problems with Your Current Roofing. Having a uniform surface for the new roofing to be placed on is important. If the shingles on your current roof are in bad shape with missing, torn, or curling shingles it may make the overall look of the roof undesirable if a roof over is done. Small areas can sometimes be patched but if the patches to make the roof uniform are widespread the roof over existing roof may not save you any money at all.
  • You Have a Leaking Roof Now. Roof leaks, no matter how small can cause damage to the inside of your home. Not only that but the roof decking under the shingles can be damaged by a roof leak. This roof decking will need to be replaced before getting a new roof installed and if you’re getting a roof over existing roof it may not be. Instead, if would just be covered up again leaving your home more vulnerable to future problems in that area of the roof.
  • Roof Overs Add Lots of Weight to the Home. A single shingle doesn’t seem to weigh much but when you consider your roof may be comprised of thousands of shingles the weight of the roofing materials can add up. When you re-roof your home you basically multiply that weight by 2. For older homes which are not designed to handle this much weight it can cause a lot of problems. Foundations sinking, structural collapses, and more. Most roofing contractors will examine the attic and determine if re-roofing is a viable option for you.

Factors to Consider in Decision Making

Taking a gander at your roof’s state isn’t quite like reading tea leaves, but it’s close, given you’ve got to interpret what those wear and tear signs are whispering about its health. If your roof’s been around the block a few times, showing signs of aging or, God forbid, leaks, it’s akin to your car flashing that ‘check engine’ light. Ignoring it might lead to a bit of a pickle, or a full-blown saga if your living room suddenly doubles as an indoor pool.

Now, wallet considerations come into play. We all love a good bargain, but skimping on your roof could mean pouring money down the drain in the long run. It’s like choosing between band-aids or surgery. Sure, slapping on a band-aid (a quick fix) will cost less now, but surgery (a total roof revamp) might actually save you from bigger headaches down the road. And I’m not just talking migraines from the noise of buckets catching drips.

Aiming for the long haul or just patching up for the time being also does the tango with your goals. We’re talking about whether you’re planning to turn your abode into a forever home or just spiffing it up to say, “So long!” With a clear aim, decision-making becomes less like wandering through a fog and more like a leisurely stroll in the park.

Choosing the right path for your roof isn’t something to shake a stick at, especially if you’ve spotted a leak that turns your attic into a makeshift waterfall. Trust me, having gone through a bit of a roofing rodeo myself, it’s clear this isn’t a DIY project for a lazy Sunday. Now, I’m all for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty, but when your roof screams for help louder than a cat on a hot tin roof, it’s time to call in the cavalry.

Consulting with a roofing expert isn’t admitting defeat; it’s more like teaming up with a superhero for your home. These folks have seen it all – from shingles that have taken flight to mysterious leaks that play hide and seek. My own saga with a leaky roof turned out to be less about the roofing voodoo and more about expert intervention.

Picture this – you’re armed with buckets catching the indoor rain, thinking, “Could I patch this up myself?” Here’s a nugget of wisdom from someone who’s walked a mile in those soggy shoes: calling in a professional doesn’t only save you from an attic pool party; it also keeps your two feet on the ground, literally. They’ve got the tools, the know-how, and, most importantly, the ladders that reach the roof without turning it into a mission impossible scenario.

In short, when your roof sends SOS signals, heed the call. The pros can turn your frowns upside down before your living room needs a lifeboat. And who knows? They might just share a laugh or two about the quirks of your quaint rooftop.

Rick Anderson