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Should I Repair or Replace My Roof?

When it comes to your home, an ounce of prevention is most definitely worth a pound of cure. In other words, regular maintenance is good for both your home’s appearance and your wallet. Putting off needed repairs might save you in the short-term, but it will end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

However, not all home improvement decisions are cut and dry. For example, it’s sometimes possible — and entirely acceptable — to repair a roof rather than replace it. Which route you take depends on several factors, including the type of damage and what percentage of the total roof surface is in need of repair.

When It’s Okay to Simply Replace Shingles

In some cases, replacing a few shingles is all you need to restore beauty and function to your roof. Asphalt shingles are designed to last for decades, and today’s modern roofing designs are engineered to last for as long as you own your home.

Before you decide to replace shingles, however, it’s important to have a professional inspect your roof to determine if any of the underlayment or decking is damaged. There’s a big difference between a few missing shingles lost during heavy winds and a leak that extends through the various layers of your roof. If the damage is extensive, it’s usually a better idea — and a better value — to replace the entire roof.

Also keep in mind that shingles are exposed to rain, snow and heat. Even if you have a spare box of shingles left over from when your roof was installed, you might have a hard time matching the “new” shingles to the ones on your roof. Depending on the location and the size of the area in need of replacement, it might be difficult to blend replacement shingles into the rest of the roof.

However, if the area in need of new shingles is located in an inconspicuous area, or the section is relatively small, you might be able to get away with nailing down some replacement shingles.

Tip: If your roof is missing a few shingles, don’t wait to replace them. The shingles are there to protect your roof’s decking from moisture and wind. Even a small exposed area can allow water to seep into the underlayment and into the deck, where it can cause rot and eventually leakage.

Patching Damaged Areas

Understandably, many homeowners wonder if they can patch a damaged or deteriorating section of roof rather than replace the entire thing. They may even opt to roof over the existing shingles instead of tearing off the old roof.

Patching can work, but it poses all of the same issues — and then some — as replacing a few shingles.

Just as you would when deciding if it’s okay to simply replace shingles, it’s important to consult with a home roofing professional if you’re considering patching your roof. A home roofing pro will perform a thorough inspection to determine if a patch will extend your roof’s lifespan without leading to future damage.

A home roofing expert will examine both the exterior of your roof, as well as the boards in your attic, which will generally show if moisture has made its way through the decking and into your home.

On the outside, signs of a more serious problem include shingles that are curling at the edges or starting to buckle. Another bad sign is the presence of granules — the small, pebble-like pieces that coat the outside of the shingle — in your gutters or on the ground.

Furthermore, a sagging roof is a sure sign of a more serious problem. If you notice any sagging, don’t wait to call a roofing contractor. You must replace the entire roof as quickly as possible.

Even if it’s possible to patch your roof, the outcome might not be aesthetically pleasing. In the case of a patch, the damaged area is usually much larger than a spot in need of a few shingles, which generally makes it more difficult to blend the repaired section in with the existing roof.

Roofing Over the Existing Roof

At Nu Look Roofing, one of the most common questions homeowner ask is, Can I just shingle over my existing roof?

Although this option might seem like it would save you money, it’s a bit like putting a bandaid over a broken bone. You cover up the problem, but the damage is still underneath — and it’s only going to get worse (and more painful) over time.

Most local building codes allow homes to have up to two layers of shingles, so it’s definitely possible to shingle over an existing roof. After two layers of shingles, however, you risk putting too much weight on the structure of the home. For this reason, the majority of building codes don’t permit a home to have more than two layers of roofing materials.

Another downside of placing shingles on top of an existing roof is the cost of additional labor when it comes time to rip everything off and install new. Instead of paying for one tear-off, you must now foot the bill for double the labor. Additionally, you put yourself in the unenviable position of playing scavenger hunt in the event the roof leaks down the road. Now, instead of trying to locate a leak under a single layer of shingles, you must try to find the source of the problem under two shingle layers.

Furthermore, placing shingles on top of shingles typically voids any manufacturer’s warranty that protects you in the event of a defect in the new shingles. If a problem arises in the future, you won’t be able to rely on a warranty to cover the cost of repairs or replacement.

Replacing the Roof

So how do you know when it’s time for a whole new roof design? The answer depends on a variety of factors, which you should consider any time you’re confronted with a roofing repair vs. replace dilemma.

  • Signs of Moisture or Water Damage – Water is a powerful force — just look at the Grand Canyon for evidence of its persistent nature. Once it seeps beneath your roof’s shingles, it can quickly find its way inside, where it can cause serious damage and even health problems. If you see signs of moisture inside your home, including brown spots on the ceiling, peeling paint or mold, you should probably opt to replace your entire roof rather than attempt a patch or repair.
  • A Recent Disaster – If your neighborhood was recently hit with a hurricane, tornado, or especially violent storm, the damage may be extensive enough to require a total roof replacement. Even a single harsh winter can push an ailing roof into a state of emergency.
  • Age – Is your roof five years old and leaking? In this case, the problem is more likely related to the quality of the installation or even a defect in the materials rather than normal wear and tear. On the other hand, a 20-year-old roof with a couple problem areas is probably near the end of its lifespan and due to be replaced.
  • Materials – You should also consider the type of roofing materials you have. For example, an 80-year-old slate roof might have a few more decades of life ahead of it, whereas a metal roof in its eighth decade is well past its prime. Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material due to their affordability and aesthetic appeal, and the latest generation of premium asphalt shingles are made to last up to 50 years with proper maintenance.

When it’s time to replace your roof, consult with a home roofing expert. Also keep in mind that price shouldn’t be the only factor that influences your choice of roofing contractor. You wouldn’t choose a “discount” heart surgeon. Likewise, you shouldn’t choose a roofing installation company based solely on a cheap price. By investing in a quality product and expert installation now, you can rest easy knowing your home is protected for the long haul.

Contact Nu Look Home Design to Schedule a Free Consultation

A new roof can dramatically improve the look of a home. Enhance your home’s beauty with a new roofing design from Nu Look Roofing. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation with one of our home roofing professionals. Call (800) 279-5300 or email us at info@nlhd.com.