Should I Repair or Replace My Roof?

Chris Gennone
Sep 17, 2021
·
9 min read

Roofer working on a roof

Image source: Money

Whether your roof is damaged from a storm or is in poor condition after years of use, there are benefits to both replacing and repairing your roof. But when is a roof replacement necessary? When is it acceptable to make simple repairs and how much do they cost? It all depends on several key factors. Let’s break it down.

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When to Replace Your Roof

A full roof replacement means removing and disposing of old shingles or roofing materials, installing new plywood sheathing, ice dam protection, underlayment or felt, drip edging, new flashing, vents, and new asphalt shingles or tiles.

Most roof replacements typically take a couple of days to complete and can cost up to $44,000 depending on the roof materials, roofing contractor, and the size of your roof. While replacing your entire roof can seem like a daunting task, it may not be necessary. Here's when you should replace your roof.

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Poor Condition and Not Up to Date

A residential roof with missing shingles and exposed beams

Image source: IKO

The lifespan for an average roof is typically between 25-30 years or more depending on the materials, conditions, and workmanship. Replacing sections of missing shingles may be a temporary fix, but if you have an old roof or have experienced damage over the years from severe weather, it's probably time to replace it.

Leaks and Damaged Shingles

Leaks and exposed nails in a roof

Image source: PGRS

Whenever your roof deck is exposed to consistent water or moisture leakage, it can lead to potential wood rot of the rafters and joists. Moisture can also lead to mold growth, causing a variety of health risks. Be on the lookout for any type of stains, damp or musty smells, or if the wood cracks. Other warning signs include curled or cracked shingles and granule loss. If you experience any type of significant roof leaks, it's important to have your roof inspected for any potential water damage.

Sagging or Drooping

A sagging roof on a residential home

Image source: Legacy Service

Any time you see your roof drooping or sagging indicates possible structural damage or a buildup of moisture and potential wood rot. Environmental roofing issues like ice dams, snow, and debris all put additional weight on the roof, causing it to sag and put more pressure on the rafters and joists. This can be extremely dangerous and an obvious sign that you should reroof.

When to Repair Your Roof

If your roof is in relatively good shape, up to date, and has experienced only minor roof damage, it’s possible to skip re-roofing and make small repairs.

Minor Damage and Small Areas

Damaged shingles on a residential roof

Image source: Pyramid Roofing Company

If your roof is relatively up to date and small sections of your roof need new shingles that have blown off from wind damage, they're easily replaceable. If you have a metal roof or clay tiles, installation costs can be more expensive than an asphalt shingle roof, but still significantly less than a roof replacement. The only downside to replacing small sections of your roof is they may not match with the rest of the shingles or tiles.

While a leaky roof can be a sign of more significant damages, if the leak is small, isolated, and hasn't caused any water damage to the rafters or joists, it's possible to repair it. Any type of repair will likely require new flashing and caulking around shingles and roof ventilation, but it's important to have your roof inspected either way to determine the severity of the damage.

Budget Concerns

Roof replacements are expensive, which could definitely dissuade some homeowners on a tight budget. While minor repairs could cost hundreds of dollars, the cost of a new roof could be thousands. If your roof is in need of repair but is relatively up to date and the roof deck is structurally sound, it’s acceptable to make minor repairs.

Roof replacement vs Repair Costs

Roof Replacement Costs

Contractors replacing a roof

Image source: MidAtlantic Contracting

A full roof replacement has several key components which can influence how much you spend. The average cost to replace a typical 1,700 sq. ft roof can range from $3,950 to $15,300 depending on the size of your roof, type of roofing materials, and labor costs.

Materials

Asphalt Roof

Asphalt shingles on a residential roof

Image source: Home Genius Exteriors

National average cost per square foot (including roof installation):

3-tab shingles - $3-$6

Architectural shingles - $5-$15

Premium architectural (designer) shingles - $5-$15

Asphalt shingles are the most common and most popular roofing material available in the U.S., thanks to their durability, affordability, and easy installation. Though material costs vary between types of shingles and brands, you can expect to pay between $5,250 and $7,500 for a full roof replacement with asphalt shingles.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing on a residential home

Image source: Forbes

Cost ranges per square foot with roof installation:

Aluminum - $4-$11

Steel - $5.50-$10

Copper - $15-$30

Standing Seam - $10-$17.50

There's no doubt that when you install a metal roof, you're paying for durability and longevity – but that comes at a steep price. Depending on whether you choose between aluminum, steel, copper, or standing seam, you can expect to pay between $15,000 and $25,000 for metal roof installation.

Tile Roofing

Tile roofing on a residential home

Image source: The Balance Small Business

Cost ranges of materials per square foot:

Concrete tiles - $3-$20 per square foot

Clay tiles - $5-$15 per square foot

Roofing tiles are another expensive but durable option. Tile roofs reflect solar heat well, making them a good option for homeowners in warmer climates like Florida and California where energy efficiency is a primary concern. While you can expect to pay up to $72,450 to install a high-end tile roof, both clay and concrete tiles can last between 50-100 years.

Wood Shakes and Shingles

Wood shakes on a residential home

Image source: Digital Roofing Innovations

Cost ranges per square foot with installation:

Wood shingles - $4.50-$9 per square foot

Wood shakes - $5.50-$13.50 per square foot

Whether you choose between wood shingles or shakes, installing a wooden roof gives your home personality and boosts its curb appeal. Roofing costs for a wood roof replacement typically range from $11,000-$17,500 after installation. Modifications like skylights and dormers will increase the total cost.

Slate Roofing

Slate tiles on a residential home

Image source: The Washington Post

Cost ranges per square foot with labor:

Slate tiles - $1.50-$30 per square foot

A slate roof is one of the most expensive and longest-lasting roofing materials available, costing between $15,000-$30,000 and lasting up to 150 years. Because slate has such a long lifespan, you'll likely never have to replace your roof.

Labor

Depending on the roofers, labor costs are usually 60% of the roof replacement cost. This makes it critical that you compare contractors and find the one with the best reputation, a strong warranty, and reasonable pricing. Depending on the type of roof materials, roof size, and extent of the roofing project, contractors will charge either by the roofing square (1 square = 100 square footage) or by the hour for smaller repairs. Hourly rates usually range between $50-$100.

Repair Costs

The cost for roof repairs all depends on the extent of the damage and the contractor. Depending on your abilities and accessibility, some repairs like caulking, patching up small holes, and cleaning gutters are DIY friendly, but it’s best to hire a professional for more complicated home improvement issues.

For minor repairs like fixing the flashing or replacing shingles, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1,500. Hourly rates for minor labor tend to usually average $75.

Tear Off vs Overlay

If you have a typical asphalt shingle roof and experienced damages, you might be deciding whether to install layers of shingles over the existing ones or tearing them off completely and replacing them with new shingles. Here’s the case for both.

Tear Off

Shingles being torn off a roof

Image source: JB Roofing

Longevity

Tearing off your old shingles gives your roof new life. Not only does installing new shingles extend your roof’s lifespan but it allows contractors to notice any kind of potential damages to the roof deck. You’ll also be able to choose every part of the roofing system, so you’ll know every layer of your roof.

Curb Appeal and Resale Value

Installing brand new shingles can increase your home's curb appeal and resale value. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry reports that a new roof can recoup 60% of the installation cost when you sell the home. Remodeling Magazine's 2021 Cost vs. Value report shows that an asphalt roof replacement can increase your home's resale value by $17,147 and a metal roof replacement can increase by $25,816.

More Expensive

While a tear-off roof replacement increases the health and longevity of your home, it also costs roughly 25% more than an overlay due to additional labor and the disposal of old materials.

Overlay

New shingles being overlayed on a roof

Image source: Whittle’s Roofing Co.

Less Expensive

Because there’s no significant removal of shingles and less intensive labor, installing a new layer of shingles is easier and less expensive than a full replacement. An overlay is a great way to save on money if you’re not planning on replacing your roof for at least another 10 years.

Easier and Quicker

With no shingle removals or disposals, installing a new layer takes significantly less time than a full replacement. There’s also less of a risk of any damage caused by poor installations or any type of severe weather.

More Weight

Perhaps the biggest issue to be aware of with installing overlays is the added weight it puts on your roof. If your roof is older or you’re experiencing granule loss, the additional weight of a second shingle layer could potentially damage your roof deck.

Should I Replace or Repair My Roof?

Deciding whether to replace or repair your roof is a crucial decision. It all depends on the condition and significance of the damage to your roof, in addition to how much you’re willing to spend. While replacing your roof is more expensive and labor-intensive, it should also give you peace of mind knowing you’ll have a brand new roof that should last you for years. But if the damages are minor or you’re on a tight budget, it’s possible to make roof repairs that can be temporary solutions.

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