Roof Repair vs Replacement: 10 Tips to Help You Decide Which Route to Take

Dec 22, 2019 | Roofing

The number of years a roof lasts depends primarily on material and weather. Most roofs are made of asphalt shingles. They’re affordable and last 20 to 30 years.

Pricier and sturdier materials like copper, slate, and tile typically last 50-plus years, with copper clocking in at 100-plus years, or the lifetime of your home. Fiber cement and wood are in the 25 to 30 range respectively.

Extreme weather and unforeseen accidents, like fire, can cut those roof years down by destroying your entire roof. Alternately, a section can get damaged and you have to consider roof repair vs replacement.

To help you make that choice wisely, we’ve put together 10 tips on how to decide when to replace a roof and when to go for house roof repair. Keep reading to learn about roof construction, shingle replacement, costs and benefits of repair vs re-roofing vs replacement, and more.

Then, decide which option is the best fit for you and your home — keeping aesthetics, dependability, durability, cost, and ease in mind.




1. Get a Professional to Look Beneath the Surface

You had a big storm. Some shingles blew off. Or maybe a tree branch damaged shingles on one side of your house. It’s probably not a big deal. You probably just need to replace those shingles or repair a small area.

But there could also be damage to the underlayment or the roof deck and you want to get that inspected by a certified roofing contractor you trust so you don’t have to go back and fix another issue after repairing or replacing shingles.

The roof deck is the bottom part of your roof. It goes on top of the rafters, joists and trusses. It’s usually made of 1/4-inch to 1-inch plywood panels, and it’s called sheathing.

The roof deck is the base that holds the other layers, like materials that waterproof and insulate. The underlayment is one of these layers. It protects the roof deck from water and other elements.

It protects the shingles from resins that come up from the roof deck and helps keep the roof flat.

Determine the condition of these layers before addressing anything on top. If damaged, repair them if possible or replace the roof if not.


2. Replace Missing Shingles if Possible

If you’re just missing a few shingles and your knowledgeable local roofing contractor confirmed that there’s no other damage to the underlying structure, you can simply replace those shingles.

Your basic three-tab asphalt composition shingles are sturdy and built to last 12 to 25 years. Bump the quality up to asphalt architectural shingles and they’re made to last 30 to 50 years. So with asphalt, you want to replace what’s missing and maintain a dependable roof.

Wood and tile shingles can be replaced as well as long as there’s no other damage to your roof.

It’s a good idea to order extra shingles when you install your roof. This allows you to replace them with shingles that match exactly in color.


3. Replace Damaged Shingles if Possible

Like with missing shingles, if you have a few damaged shingles and there’s no other damage to the underlying structure, you can replace them.

Asphalt is tough and doesn’t crack that easily. Tile, however, is often made of clay and cracks easily. Be sure to have your tile shingles checked regularly for cracking and replace as needed.

Wood shingles can get damaged because of wear and tear from the elements, especially water. Again, the rule of thumb is that if you have a few damaged wood shingles and no other damage to the underlying materials, you can replace them. But with wood, if some of the shingles are on their way out, it’s likely that the others may be ready to go as well.


4. Repair Loose Flashing and Vent Seals When Needed

Flashing is a thing material, often galvanized steel, that helps drain water from your roof and protect it. Flashing also protects other structures on your roof, like the chimney or dormers.

If flashing becomes loose, water damage can occur to the roof and the other structures of your home. Loose flashing can usually be repaired as long as other damage hasn’t already occurred.

Be sure to have the flashing checked during maintenance and repair it or replace it right away if it’s loose.

The seals around roof vents can because dry over time and crack become damaged. Check the seal during your regular maintenance and repair right away to prevent damage.


5. Look for Larger Bald Spots as a Sign for Roof Replacement

When you see that there are large spaces on your roof where shingles are missing or damaged, it may be time to replace your roof.

It means that time and weather have caught up with your roof and are likely to continue in other areas. If you continue to simply replace the shingles in the bald area, you’re likely to end up replacing your entire roof and during this time, the elements will have at the underlying materials which can cause further damage and expenses.


6. Look for Other Signs That Your Shingles Are Falling Apart

In addition to seeing bald spots on your roof, there are some signs that your shingles are starting to crack and fall apart and that it’s time to replace your whole roof.

Look out for granules in the gutter. These are often copper granules and as the shingles wear, you’ll find them washed into the gutters.

Look out for curved edges on your shingles. Look out for buckled shingles. And look out for cracked shingles and brittle shingles which are likely to crack soon.


7. Look for Water Leaks and Damage

If you have leaks coming from the roof in your attic or your home, it’s time to call your roofing professional as soon as possible. There’s likely damage to the underlayment and the roof deck. When this happens, unless it’s in a very small area, it’s likely that you will need to replace your roof.


8. Replace Your Roof Rather Than Reroof Over It if Possible

In the past, roofers would reroof over the existing roof. This means the new shingles would be placed over the old shingles. Sometimes people use the term reroof to refer to putting on an entirely new roof, which could mean a replacement, but often, this refers to overlaying a roof on the existing roof.

Today, reroofing is not common because it has many drawbacks. Not only does it place extra weight on your roof, but if there’s a problem with the underlying materials, it’s more difficult and expensive to get in there.

Also, if you eventually get to a point where you have an issue with the roof deck, underlayment, or bigger storm or other damage, it will be more difficult and expensive to rip out two layers over the entire roof.


9. Keep Up With Roof Maintenance

The best way to keep your roof in good shape for as long as possible — given normal circumstances — is to have it inspected twice a year and to do needed maintenance.

Schedule your roofing professional to come out once in the spring and once in the fall. They will check the roof deck, the underlayment, the shingles, the gutters for shingle granules, the flashing, the vent seals, and more. If there’s anything that needs repair, do it right away.

Keeping up with maintenance keeps your roof and home protected from further damage, like water damage, which is more costly in the long run.


10. Plan Ahead for a New Roof

At a certain point, your roof is likely to start to deteriorate and need replacement depending on the type of material it’s made of.

If it’s asphalt, know that it’s likely to need replacing after 20-plus years, depending on the quality of asphalt. If it’s wood, you can start to look out after 25 years. Tile has a longevity of 45-plus years and metal can last over 50 years.  Slate and copper can last over a century.

You can plan ahead through maintenance and savings so that when it’s time to replace your roof, you’ll be aware and financially comfortable.


What to Consider

Consider all costs including labor and materials so you know what you’re looking at. Americans typically spend $5000 to $10,000 when putting a roof on their home or replacing an old roof with a new one.

Also, consult thoroughly with your roofing professional and consider wisely the material. Consider the aesthetics, the pitch of your roof, the weather and geography, maintenance and cost.

For example, architectural asphalt looks terrific but costs more than basic asphalt. Wood looks beautiful and is great in mild climates. It’s also more expensive than basic asphalt and requires more maintenance if you want it to last long.


Roof Repair vs Replacement for Your Home in Boise Idaho

Now that you know some important things to consider when deciding between roof repair vs replacement, you’re ready to take the next steps to make sure your roof is in great shape.

To start, give us a call so we can take a look at your roof and discuss your roofing needs. We’re available for roof repair and maintenance as well as replacement. And we’re here to answer any questions you have. We want to help you get your roof in good shape and keep it there so you can live comfortably and safely in your home.