Homeowner’s: Roof Repair vs Roof Replacement?

This article looks at the key decision making factors that a homeowner should consider before deciding to repair or replace an existing roof.

It is important to distinguish the difference between a roof repair and roof replacement.

A roof repair is typically an additional expense invested in an existing roof to extend its life.  This life expectancy is normally limited by the remaining life image
expectancy of the originally installed roofing material. Some examples of situations in which a roof repair would be required are; when a missing shingle is blown off by the wind, when a flashing is cracked or leaking, or when there is damage to a specific area caused by an animal.

Roof replacement or re-roofing is basically starting over by replacing all primary roofing on the structure.  This may involve removing all current roofing material or just adding new roofing material right over the existing roof.

The first step in determining whether to repair or replace a roof is to conduct a roof assessment. This will help the home owner determine the current condition of their roof with a goal of estimating the remaining life expectancy. The following should be considered in this evaluation:

  • Condition of current primary roofing – current degradation from exposure to the elements
  • Age of the roof
  • Damage caused by foreign objects or agents including; incompatibility of materials, chemical damage, application of cleaning solutions
  • Damage from excessive foot traffic, abuse or use as a storage area
  • Damage caused by inadequate attic ventilation
  • Damage to the current roof deck and structure caused by infiltration of water, moisture or condensation emanating from beneath the structure
  • Damage caused by natural forces or acts of god; tornado, hurricane, earthquake, etc.
  • Damage caused by severe weather conditions – wind, heavy rain, hail
  • Damage to the interior or exterior of the building – including water damage or mold
  • Damage or leaks cause by animals, vandalism, abuse, abusive conditions
  • Damage caused from structural design and defects and/or building/roof alterations
  • Leaks caused by inadequate drainage
  • Leaks caused by building settlement, movement or defects

By evaluating the above factors one can determine the level of repairs required to bring a roof back to reasonable service condition (i.e. no leaks) and to estimate how long the repair will extend the current roofs life expectancy.  This cost and the estimated remaining life expectancy can then be compared with an estimate for a re-roof and the life expectancy of a new roof.

However, a decision to re-roof a home may not always be decided by the cost and remaining life expectancy of the current roofing. In some cases owner may be persuaded to re-roof for other reasons such as:

  • Street appeal – the owner may just want to improve the look of their home and want to update the appearance to a more stylish look or newer cleaner roof
  • A new roof will add value to your home, which may help to sell the property at a higher price tag – especially if it is competing for sales in weak market conditions
  • Type of material – a owner may prefer the look or want the extended life expectancy of a different type of primary roofing material; cedar shingles, metal roofing, composite shingles, or tile roofing
  • Energy efficiency – better insulation or heat reflecting material may provide reduced heating or air conditioning costs


All data and information appearing on this site is anecdotal in nature, reflecting the contributor’s personal experience and not fact-based research and, therefore, to be used for information purposes only. Read full disclaimer