There are generally two options when installing a new roof: tear off the old one and start from scratch, or overlay a new roof one on top of the old one. There are pros and cons to both approaches. Which method is best for you depends on your priorities and future plans, so knowing the costs and benefits can help you make this important decision.

Deciding to Overlay a New Roof

Installing a new roof is a big decision. A new roof is not an insignificant investment. Installing a new roof costs time and money. How you plan to install the new roof is just as important, or even more important, than the decision to replace it in the first place. So if you are going to go to the trouble and cost of replacing your roof, you should be well informed about your options.

Here is a rundown from the professionals at Eagle Watch Roofing to help you decide if an overlay is right for you.

Does It Make Sense to Overlay a New Roof [infographic]

Overlaying a New Roof

Overlaying a new roof is exactly what it sounds like. You are literally laying down the new roof over the old one. The old roof is not so much being replaced as it is being covered over with a new roof. This may not seem like the obvious way to replace a roof, but many homeowners choose this method for some significant advantages.

When you overlay a new roof, you attach the new shingles, or other roofing material, to the existing roofing material. This has advantages and disadvantages, and each of those should be weighed carefully. In general, overlaying a new roof takes less time, less labor, and thus less money. However, this can only be done once.

If you already overlayed a roof over an existing one, your only option for another new roof is to remove everything that’s there already. This can be the first determining factor in your decision: it is even an option.

Labor for a New Roof Overlay

One major advantage of doing an overlay versus a tear off is the amount of labor involved. That is to say that laying down a new roof on top of the existing roof saves hours of labor. This is because you get to skip the whole process of tearing up the existing roof. That process can be time consuming and messy, so avoiding it can affect labor hours significantly.

By reducing labor hours, you can also reduce costs. Typically you can save $1,000 or more by skipping the step of tearing off the existing roof. This is a short term benefit that can make a big difference to some homeowners who are considering roof replacement.

Reducing labor hours also reduces the amount of time the roof replacement will take. One aspect of roof replacement worth considering is the effect it will have on your regular day to day home life. During a roof replacement your home becomes a construction zone. Areas around the roof, especially your driveway, will need to be cleared. During work hours the house will be full of noise and vibration form the installation. Roofers walking around on your roof can sound like a giant stomping on your house from inside your house.

When you reduce labor hours, you are saving a significant amount of time that you will be living in a construction zone. You can get your new roof installed and start enjoying it in peace and quiet without as much of a wait.

If timing is a major concern, there are some real benefits to overlaying a roof.

Cost of an Overlay

There are a few way in which an overlay can save money versus a tear off. First of all, as noted above, you save labor hours. That alone can reduce the cost of replacing your roof by $1,000 or more compared to tearing off the existing roof.

Another factor affecting the cost of roof replacement is trash disposal. Any roof replacement will create some leftover junk, but there is a big difference between the trash removal involved in an overlay versus a tear off. When you tear off a roof, you basically have to dispose of the entire roof, which can involve filling multiple dumpsters of trash. That kind of trash disposal can add up. Typically trash disposal is included in your overall estimate for the roof replacement. But the roofer still has to consider that cost, so it will be reflected in the total cost of the roof replacement.

Alternative Lodging During Roof Replacement

Another cost that many homeowners don’t consider is the cost of alternative lodging. While this is not an absolute necessity, it can be a wonderful relief. Living in a house that is having the roof replaced can be noisy and dirty. Depending on the extent of the work being done, you could even have to block off part of your home. So many homeowners choose to move out for the duration of the project. Reducing labor hours by choosing an overlay will also reduce your lodging costs.

Reducing lodging costs can be huge. In fact, it might even make the difference between staying put and getting out of the way. Finding alternative lodging for the duration of a tear off might be impractical and expensive, but if you’re just doing an overlay, moving out may seem much more reasonable. That saves you the stress of living in a construction zone.

Disadvantages of Overlaying a New Roof

There are reasons why you might not want to choose to install the new roof over the existing one. One reason is long-term cost. There are many cost advantages to overlaying a new roof, as outlined above. But in the long run, overlaying a roof will cost you money, perhaps even more than you save in the short-term.

It is worth noting that a roof can only be overlayed once. All roofs need to be replaced eventually, and when that time comes, you will not have the option to overlay. So you will be left tearing off not one, but two roofs. This means that the labor costs you save with the overlay will end up being added to a future tear off. The same is true of trash disposal and other related costs.

Another cost of overlaying a roof is in terms of your home value. While a new roof can increase the value of your home, that is only true for a tear off. If you are putting a new roof on top of the old one without removing it, you may actually lower the resale value of your home. So if you plan to sell your home in the next few years, it is best to avoid an overlay and opt instead for a full tear off.

Other Considerations When Overlaying a Roof

Other considerations are more structural. When you install a new roof on top of an old one, you are basically putting two roofs on your house. A roof is heavy, and two roofs are twice as heavy. If you have an older home or if you have any structural issues, the added weight could cause real problems.

An overlayed roof will also not look quite as good as a tear off. If you are replacing your roof, chances are your roof is not totally even. Curled shingles or other damage can present an uneven base for your new roof. Your roofers will do their best to install the new roof in an attractive and consistent manner, but there may be no way to avoid a little bit of warping here and there.

An overlayed roof will also have a shorter life span than a roof of the same material that is applied after a tear off. The double roof will trap extra heat, which can warp and otherwise prematurely age the new roof.

Finally, when you skip tearing off an old roof, you miss the opportunity to take a look at the decking underneath the existing old shingles. YOu could miss some important structural issue like rot and leaks. This isn’t a guaranteed issue, but it could lead to unexpected problems.

Making the Decision to Overlay a Roof

Ultimately, the decision to overlay a new roof should be made with all of these considerations in mind. A professional from Eagle Watch Roofing can help go through your options, your short-term and long-term priorities, and your future plans to help you make an informed decision.

Whichever way you decide to go, Eagle Watch Roofing is ready to help with a written no obligation cost estimate. Once you’ve agreed on a price, Eagle Watch will take over. You’ll have nothing to worry about until the job is done.  We’ll do a walkthrough to show you what we did and when you are completely satisfied we’ll arrange for payment.

So why wait? Call Eagle Watch Roofing today.