The Pros and Cons of Overlay vs. Tear-off Re-Roofing

When renovating a commercial or residential roof, you have more than one option depending on what is being used to replace your existing roof. Most property owners assume you must remove the roof entirely before adding new shingles or tiles, but this is not always the case. In many instances you can overlay, or “re-roof” your building without taking off the existing shingles, saving both time and money. 

Meet with your contractor to discuss the pros and cons of re-roofing vs. tearing off the existing roof before you begin your remodel: 

Reroofing is considerably less expensive. 

The labor cost of tearing off the existing roof will be comparable to installing the new shingles, so a simple overlay can cut your remodeling bill almost in half if you go this route. 

Reroofing reduces waste.

If you decide not to tear off the existing roof, there is considerably less cleanup and waste sent to the landfill afterward. The old roofing can also provide additional insulation, making it a practical “upcycle” for roofing that is no longer aesthetically pleasing or fully effective. 

Reroofing won’t last as long. 

While it is cheaper to overlay in the beginning, it may be more expensive long-term because the new roofing won’t last as long. The first layer of shingles may last 20 to 25 years, but the second layer will only last 15-20 even with proper care. 

Reroofing makes inspections and later renovations more difficult.

Repairs and inspections become much more difficult when you’re dealing with two layers of shingles instead of one. And, because the overlay won’t last as long the second time when the roof needs to be remodeled again, it will be significantly more expensive to take off both layers of shingles and start over. 

Reroofing is safer during the summer.

Reroofing makes it easier to cope with summer storms because your building won’t be exposed while the original roof is being torn off. During a tear-off installation, the flashing and interior may be at risk of water damage.

Weight and wind may be a problem with overlays. 

An overlay may be simpler, but the added weight can cause stress on the underlying structure. The additional layers of shingles may also be more likely to come up during high winds than a roof that is directly installed on the foundation. 

Not all roofing can be overlaid. 

Tile, slate, and wood shakes require tear-off installations, as will any shingle roof that has significant damage. Before you count on an overlay installation, ask your contractor about your available options. 

MaintenX can help you make the most of your roofing remodeling project and future maintenance needs! To learn more about our roofing services, contact your local MaintenX roofing team today. 

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