Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home. It takes the brunt of the elements and protects your home from the outside. Because it’s way up there on the top of your house, it’s also the part of their house that most homeowners interact with the least. So if you are noticing your roof, it’s probably because something is wrong. The most common time we think about our roofs in when we have a leak. Other common causes for concern include severe storms or damage visible from the ground. If you have a reason to be thinking about your roof, you may already be dreading the cost of repairs. One major question many homeowners have is whether they need a full replacement or just some repairs. If you’re not sure if you should repair or replace a roof, we have some tips to help you decide.

Repair or Replace a Roof [infographic]

Replacing a Few Shingles

It may seem obvious, but the number one factor that will determine whether you should repair or replace a roof is how extensive the damage is. But remember, this is just the starting point. Damage to your roof can fall into three main categories: scattered, partial, and total.

Scattered damage to your roof means you have just a few torn or loose shingles. Often the damage is caused by high winds, some debris hitting the roof, or a combination. It may take little more than a few new shingles to get your roof back to its original function and appearance. In that case, the primary considerations are how soon you can do the repairs and how well you can match the new and existing shingles.

If you’ve just got a few damaged shingles, chances are there hasn’t been time for the damage to get past the outermost layer of your roof. So before the elements can do any more damage, you want to get in and seal off that outer layer with new shingles. On the other hand, a few new shingles can look out of place. You could get the exact same shingles or have some originals left over from the original installation. But sun, rain, and other weather affect your shingles, and the shingles on the roof won’t look like brand new shingles. See if your roofer can get the closest possible match to your current shingles. But don’t wait to start your search for the perfect shingle. Every day you delay is a threat to your roof.

Patching or Partial Roof Replacement

If you have a larger area of damage, you might need a patch or even a partial roof replacement. In this case, you will have a harder time matching the new shingles to your existing shingles. But that’s just the start of your problems. When the damage is more than just a few torn shingles, you likely have damage that goes beyond the outermost layer of your roof. Once the shingles in an area of the roof have been compromised, water can penetrate and start to damage the layers below.

If you have more than just a few damaged shingles, the first thing to do is to get a professional inspection of the roof. A professional roofer will examine your roof from the exterior—on top of the roof—and the interior, inside your attic. The roofer is looking for damage to the underlayment or decking. If water damage has extended into these areas, you may need extensive repairs. Neglecting those repairs and just patching them over is like putting a band-aid on deep wound. It covers over the visible damage but leaves the damage underneath. Even after you patch the shingles, water damage can spread and worsen underneath.

If you are facing a large patch job or partial replacement, you need to make some decisions about how you want to spend your money. On its own, a patch or partial replacement is obviously less expensive than a full replacement. But two partial replacements are more expensive than a single complete replacement. If your roof is nearing the end of its life expectancy, you should probably do the full replacement while the roofers are already there. If they have to come back in a year or two to do the rest of the roof, it will cost more to complete the job.

When You Need a Full Replacement

Deciding to replace your roof is a pretty big step. It means you will be making a significant investment in your roof. But that’s how you have to think of it, as an investment. Your roof is there to protect your home from the elements, and skimping on that can cause real problems. A roof that isn’t replaced when it needs to be can open up the underlayment, decking, attic, and even the interior of your home to severe damage.

If the damage on your roof has made its way past the shingles, you should start considering replacement. Damage to the inner parts of your roof is rarely contained to a small area. Water damage and rot spread quickly. Also, if the damage is spread out, as sometimes happens in a storm, replacement may be your best option. If you notice any sagging in your roof, that indicates severe damage to your decking. At that point, replacement is unavoidable. Don’t wait to call a roofer. Make a call to Eagle Watch Roofing as quickly as possible to avoid serious and dangerous problems.

Putting a New Roof on Top of the Old One

If you have just a few shingles to replace, you could choose to save money on labor and lay them right on top of the existing shingles. Housing codes typically allow for up to two layers of shingle across a whole roof. However, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it. Pulling off a few shingles to replace them is relatively quick and will look and function better than layering over the damage.

Because building codes only allow for two layers of shingle, any choice to overlay a new roof on top of an old one should be made with an eye towards the future. Once you have two layers, any future replacement or even small patches will require tearing off the layers below. When it comes time to replace a two-layered roof, you will incur twice the labor costs as both roofs have to be removed before proceeding.

Another problem with overlaying a roof is that it makes finding leaks very difficult. It’s hard enough pinpointing the source of a leak in a single-layer roof. Add a second, older layer that you can’t see, and the challenge becomes much, much harder.

On the other hand, if money is tight and you need a new roof, overlaying a new roof can be a quicker, cheaper option. Your new roof will be better than no new roof at all.

Professional Inspection

Any time you have damage to your roof, you should have it professionally inspected. If you search the internet, you may find a lot of information on do-it-yourself roof repairs. As veteran roofers, we suggest against taking matters into your own hands. First of all, doing work yourself may void any warranty you have on your roof. If you run into premature damage, that can be a costly decision. It can also affect your homeowners insurance. Also, even the most well-intentioned do-it-yourselfers can make some rookie mistakes. A DIY roofer who lays new shingles over old, broken ones may be doing little more than hiding the damage. Without a full inspection, you have no way of knowing how deep and how far the damage goes.

Take a tip from Eagle Watch Roofing. Save yourself the trouble that can come with DIY roofing and give us a call. You’ll be glad you did.