When you decide that your roof has reached the point that it has to be replaced, you will be faced with many options. There tends to be a lot of terms that are confusing.

This can make it hard to decide what is best for you and your home. It is my goal to show you the options I had when I was replacing my roof so that you can learn and make informed choice.

Informed choices should always begin by gaining accurate information. So let’s learn what each term is and the pros and cons of each one.

Roof Overlay meaning

The term roof overlay is exactly what it sounds like. Your contractor will simply put your new roof over the top of your existing roof.

The availability of this option is going to depend on whether or not your city or county will allow it, the condition of your decking, and the safety concerns surrounding leaving it on.

For example, can your contractor and his team safely manoeuvre around the existing roof? Are there pieces of the roof missing? Is leaving the roof in place going to cause safety concerns for the overlaying roof?

It is likely that your repair contractor already considered this before offering it.

Roof Overlay Pros

  • The greatest benefit to the overlay option is that your roof will be on quicker than you thought possible. Since you will not have to wait for the old roof to come off, work can start sooner and be done faster.
  • You will not have to worry about inclement weather conditions leaving your home exposed because your old roof will provide protection while your new roof is being installed.
  • Also, you don’t have worry about your old roofing material going into a landfill or have the concern of a dumpster on your property.
  • Cheaper. Well, because you don’t replace the entire roof and actually just apply new shingles on top of the old, the entire project will be much cheaper.

Roof Overlay Cons

  • The biggest downside of a roof overlay is that you can only do it once. Depending on the type of roof you get, this could mean that you have five to ten years before you have to have it removed and done again.

You will have double the amount of the time you have to wait for the removal of your roofing and it can significantly increase the amount that you will need to budget for your new roof.

  • More weight. You are adding a new layer of shingles on your roof, so it’s basically like adding another roof on top of the old one. If your home structure is really old, you might be doing more harm than good.
  • Can look weird. YUP, you need to be aware that if you’re going with a roof overlay option, it might not be perfect regarding the look. You place new tiles on old ones so the base is not new, take this into consideration.
  • Your deck will be covered, when you opt in for the tear off option, the roofing contractor will tear off the old roof and will have a chance to look at your deck to see the condition. This will not be possible with an overlay, in fact you will have more trouble seeing damages to your deck in the future as you are covering it with more shingles.
  • Leaks are more difficult to spot. As we already mentioned, adding a new layer to your roof makes it more difficult to spot leaks and issues. Water can drip inside and actually drop somewhere else inside your home because of the layers.
  • You’re going to replace the roof eventually. If you want a short term solution and don’t care about the long term, fine, but be aware that somewhere down the line you will need to replace the entire roof and now you have 2 layers to tear off, so it’s double the work, double the trash and probably more costs. Always think long term.
  • Negative effect on home value, yes, relaying your roof can actually have a negative effect on your home value.

Tear Off meaning 

The tear off roof is just like it sounds. It is a complete removal of the old roof. It often means that you will have your roof completely taken off – down to the decking.

This option is almost always the one that your roofing contractor will offer. If you prefer an overlay, you will have to ask your contractor ahead of time and have them show you why the option isn’t available to you.

Often times, it will be due to the fact that your old roof is not in the right condition to be feasible. Safety is always the first concern for all contractors.

Tear Off Pros

  • The best thing about having the old roof removed is that you know that you  will not have to worry about any surprises later on. You will be fully aware of the condition that your entire roof is in from the decking up.

You will not have any surprises should a situation arise. It gives the ability to focus on making sure that you have the best quality of the roofing materials.

  • Your roof is the best investment that you can make in your home. By having your roof completely removed, you know you are replacing it with the best possible roof you can.
  • Your roof will last longer. This should be obvious, if you replace the entire roof, it will last longer than just layering it again. So this is a big plus right?

Tear Off Cons

  • More trash. When you choose to tear off your roof, you are going to have some unavoidable situations. For instance, you will have to have a dumpster on your property.
  • More expensive. You are going to have to pay for the removal of the roof, the clean up of the debris that comes from your roof, and the removal of the material for your property. This may include the rental of the dumpster.
  • It will take longer to get your roof redone. It may also leave your home exposed to the elements due to the fact that you won’t have a roof while you wait for the old roof to be removed and the new one to be put on.

What you should know about Overlay

The overall cost of having an overlay verses a tear off may seem less. However, you will need to focus more of your budget on maintenance and regular inspection.

The quality of your roof could be compromised because you cannot get a good visual of the decking. That means that you may not be aware if there is any water damage or structural damage to the decking.

It also may mean that your roof will need to be replaced completely sooner. Overlay may not be able to stand up to weather conditions like high winds and rain.

What you should know about Tear off

Tear off may seem like it is going to affect your budget more than an overlay. However, you are going to be able to inspect your roof all the way to the decking.

It will mean that you won’t have to replace your roof as quick. In the long run, you will probably spend less on maintaining your roof.

If you aren’t sure about the pros and cons after reading this article, you should talk to your contractor. They will be able to tell you what they suggest for your individual situation.

There are some circumstances where the overlay is a great suggestion, like when you are installing a metal roof, and will not affect your new roof.

You should always consider all your roofing options. Some of the things you should consider are: the condition of your existing roof, the life span vs the life expectancy, budget, maintenance,  and the value that it will put on your home.

No two circumstances are the same so take your time and the perfect solution will eventually show itself.