Roof Replacement vs. Roof Repair: 8 Factors to Consider

repairing of a roof

A roof is one of the most important parts of a house – keeping you, your possessions, and your loved ones safe from the elements. However, roofs don’t last forever. And when it has seen better days, you have to choose between a roof replacement and a roof repair. Luckily, we’re here to help you pick.

How to Decide Between Roof Replacement and Roof Repair

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When you repair a roof, you fix a small part of the structure. But when you replace the roof, you’re replacing the entire roofing system. Before deciding which route to take, though, consider each of these eight factors:

1. Age of the Roof

Every roofing material has a lifespan or sell-by date, which you can use as an indication of when to replace your current roof. For example, asphalt shingles usually last 15 to 30 years, while clay and metal last much longer.

So if your existing roof is already old and deteriorating, you’ll have to replace it soon – especially if you plan on living in the house for several more years. But if it’s still under 20 years old and a roofing inspector sees only minor damages, you can have it repaired instead.

2. Roof Condition

Understanding the extent of your roof’s damage is important. Also, you should know the two signs of damage to look out for:

  • Aesthetic: Some examples of aesthetic damage include moss and algae growing on the roofing system, as well as a roof that looks rundown and old but is still in great shape.
  • Structural: It’s considered structural damage if granules are missing or the roof shingles are cracked, broken, dented, rusted, or perforated.

If only a small part of your roof has minor damage, you’ll want to simply repair it. However, the extent of the damage might not be immediately apparent, so a thorough inspection will be necessary. Usually, aesthetic damage can be fixed with a repair, while structural damage requires a replacement.

Replacements are better if there’s extensive damage or if you’re experiencing multiple issues with your roofing system’s shingles, roof vents, flashing, or decking. And although new roofs are usually resilient to damage, catastrophic weather conditions like tornadoes and hurricanes can cause severe damage to them – leaving you with no choice but to get a full roof replacement.

3. How Quickly Roofing Work Needs to be Done

If a storm is on the way, there is a greater sense of urgency to get a roofing problem fixed. But there might not be enough time to replace your roof. In this case, quick repairs or simply taking steps to protect your roof will suffice.

Even when there is no impending hurricane, though, homeowners still opt for repairs just because they resolve roofing issues quicker.

The important thing is never to delay a roofing project, especially if you believe the roof needs to be replaced. Waiting until a storm blows over isn’t a good idea, as it could do more damage and cost you more money in repairs.

4. Location of Damage on Your Roof

The location of the damage can help determine whether you should repair or replace your roof.

If the damage encompasses only a small area, a simple repair may be enough. For example, a minor leak in your bedroom or dining room ceiling usually comes from tiny holes that can be fixed with patching.

One small leak isn’t reason enough to replace your roof. But when there are multiple leaks, you should consider a replacement. Additionally, a replacement is the best option if at least 30 percent of your roof has damage.

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5. How Long You Plan to Live in Your Home

Ask yourself how long you plan to stay in your home. If you plan on living there for the rest of your life, it’s crucial to replace your roof whenever necessary, as it can help prolong your house’s lifespan as well. Even if you plan to sell your house in a few years, replacing your roof is still the best option since it can increase your home’s curb appeal and value.

But if you are staying at the house temporarily, you will most likely opt for repairs as you won’t be in the house long enough to justify a replacement.

6. Insurance Claims and Issues

Repairing or replacing your roof can be expensive depending on its size, the extent of damage, and geographical location. Also, remember that insurance only covers damage from natural disasters or accidents, not neglect or wear and tear.

7. Your Geographical Location

If your roof has minor wind damage, you could simply get the damaged shingles replaced. But if you live in an area with frequent hailstorms, hurricanes, or tornadoes, you’ll want to replace missing shingles or other roofing materials right away to avoid issues like roof leaks.

But regardless of where you live, you should have your roof regularly inspected. This way, you’ll know which services you need to protect your roof from the sun, rain, storm, or high winds.

8. Your Budget

Homeowners usually prefer repairs, as they are less expensive than replacements. Landlords, on the other hand, need to properly track maintenance expenses to get profitable returns. However, the cost of roof repairs can add up and eventually exceed the cost of a roof replacement.

While a roof replacement might be more expensive, you won’t have to pay for successive repairs – especially if there are multiple problem spots on your roof’s surface. And if you have a new roof, you’ll feel more at ease knowing your house is protected from the elements.

Can or Should You Do a Partial Roof Replacement?

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Partial roof replacements, where you only replace a section of your roof rather than the entire roof, might seem like a cost-effective solution. However, it has many consequences, which can cost you more money in the long run.

A partial roof replacement works if only one side of your roof has damage. You would have to do the following:

  1. Remove the old roof shingles from the damaged side
  2. Add a moisture barrier to the roof deck
  3. Lay down new shingles

The problem with a partial replacement is that it may cause more damage and expenses after a while. For example, small gaps in the roof can cause air to escape and lead to higher energy bills. These tiny holes also can cause insects and rodents to enter your home. On the other hand, replacing your entire roof can help you save money in the long run. You can have peace of mind knowing you’ll be able to avoid costly roof repairs.

Another problem with partial roof replacements involves aesthetics. You’ll have to match the new roofing materials with the existing ones for the repaired area to blend with the rest of the roof. For example, if you have extra shingles from a previous roofing job, the colors might differ due to fading and sun exposure. Using them will make the newly re-roofed portion stand out – and not in a good way.

Pros and Cons of Roof Replacement

Roof replacements might be messy and expensive, but they can lead to a high return on investment, increased curb appeal, and peace of mind.

● Increases your home’s curb appeal
● Greater safety and security
● High return on investment
● Greater energy efficiency
● The replacement process is very noisy
● Expensive
● Most roofing companies don’t clean up very well

Pros and Cons of Roof Repair

Roof repairs are cheaper than roof replacements and help get more life out of your existing roof. However, you need highly specialized roofing contractors to do the job, and the newer shingles are tough to match with the current ones.

● More affordable than roof replacements
● Adds more life to your roof
● DIY possibilities
● Matching shingles can be difficult
● Need skilled roofers to perform the tasks

Cost of Roof Replacement vs. Roof Repair

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Roof Repair

A roof repair cost fluctuates depending on what you need. Factors that affect the price include your roof’s size, how accessible your roof is from the ground, the roofing material, and the type of repair needed. For example, repairing an underlayment is more expensive than laying down a few shingles.

The cost to repair your roof will range from $348 to $1,186, with the national average being $767.

Roofing MaterialAverage Cost to Repair
Flat / single-ply membrane$350 – $750
Asphalt shingles$450 – $825
Wood shakes/shingles$450 – $825
Metal$550 – $1,350
Slate$575 – $1,750
Clay / Concrete tiles$350 – $450 per damaged roof square

Roof Replacement

The cost of a roof replacement depends on the size and pitch of your roof, your current roofing material, the material you’re replacing it with, and any additional repairs or services your roof might need.

A new roof will cost between $5,706 to $11,185, or a national average of $8,446.

Roofing MaterialPrice Range Per Square Foot
Asphalt shingles$200 – $483
Flat roof$250 – $767
Metal shingles$650 – $1,300
Wood shingles or shakes$700 – $935
Concrete tiles$1,067 – $1,733
Clay tiles$1,150 – $2,250
Solar shingles$1,200 – $2,500
Slate$1,250 – $2,750

FAQ About Roof Replacement vs. Roof Repair

What Is Re-Roofing?

Re-roofing is the process of laying new shingles on top of existing ones. You can only do it once, so it’s better to re-roof your entire roofing system rather than a single section. Re-roofing is less expensive than a complete roof replacement, but your roof’s material, pitch, age, or even how many stories your house has will determine if it’s viable.

However, there are restrictions to re-roofing. You can’t re-roof if your current roof has missing or soggy shingles or significant water damage. Likewise, re-roofing isn’t an option if your shingles are sagging or rotting.

What Factors Can Affect My Roof Replacement Costs?

Roofing contractors and companies take many factors into account when billing you, such as:

Type of roof. Some materials cost more than others. For example, asphalt shingle roofs are a good choice if you’re on a budget. If you can upgrade your roof to something more long-lasting, seam metal roofs are suitable. And if you genuinely want your roof to stand out, get a cedar shake, slate, or tile roof.

Decking. Decking is the wooden boards that make up a roof’s frame and is where the shingles are installed on. If your roofer believes your decking needs to be replaced before laying down the shingles, they will add it to your invoice.

Penetrations. A penetration is anything that pokes out of your roofs, such as chimneys, skylights, and vents. The more penetrations your roof has, the more expensive the installation will be.

Accessibility. Replacing a roof that’s not easily accessible will require more labor and equipment. In this case, roofing companies will charge extra fees.

Size. Roofers charge for a roof replacement by the square – a unit of measuring materials that cover 100 square feet. So the larger your roof, the more expensive the replacement will be.

What Are Signs That I Need a New Roof?

Sometimes roof damage can happen suddenly. But usually, there’ll be visible signs you need a new roof. Below are several examples:

Shingle damage. If your roof is missing shingles, you need to replace your roof. Curled, damaged, or mossy shingles indicate that you need a new roof. Check your gutters for shingle debris, as that can imply the shingles are starting to disintegrate and reaching the end of their lifespan.

Sagging roofline: A roofline should be straight and strong. If it’s dipping, curving, or sagging, it could make your roof cave in. For this reason, you should replace your roof as soon as you see it hanging.

Interior water damage. Interior water damage looks like streaks, stains, or water spots in your home’s attic, ceilings, or walls. Usually, it’s due to a leaky roof. If this happens, call a roofing contractor to check your roof and find the source of the leak.

Hire a Roofing Contractor Near You

Though the most prominent factor in deciding whether to repair or replace your roof is your budget, there are multiple other factors you need to consider before making a decision.

If you’re still unsure if you want to repair or replace your roof, we connect you to the best roofing pros near you, and they will help you make the right decision.

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Stuart Kushner

Stuart Kushner is a writer and aspiring product designer based in New York City. When he isn’t doing either, Stuart enjoys heavy metal music, exercise, and trying new food and drinks.