Roof Replacement vs. Repair

Roof Replacement vs. Repair: An Essential Guide For Homeowners

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Most homeowners often take the protection over their heads for granted. However, as your home’s first defense against the wrath of Mother Earth, your roofing system is also the most vulnerable part of your home.  

While roofs are designed to last for decades, normal wear and tear and unexpected disasters can inflict damage on your roof, shortening its lifespan. This may have you wondering if it’s time to get a roof replacement or just a simple repair service.  

Understanding Roof Repair

For moderate to minor damages, a roof repair should be enough to stop further damage and resolve common roofing issues. Roof repair and maintenance can help restore your roofing and extend its lifespan.  

Roof repair

Image source: dsicontractorsmd.com

It’s a project that almost every homeowner should deal with regularly. Roof problems, when caught early, can help prevent further damage. It often involves working on small, isolated areas of your roof. Depending on the damage, roof repair may include patching up minor holes and cracks and replacing missing or damaged shingles and other roofing materials.  

Understanding Roof Replacement

Repairing a roof means fixing a small part of the structure. However, if a large area of your roof needs to be repaired, replacing your roof system may be a more viable option. The roof replacement process means you have to strip off your existing roof and install a new one. It may also involve repairing rafters, sheathing, and trusses.   

Entire roof replacement

Image source: staydryroofing.com

Since it requires more work, a installing a new roof is more expensive than simple repairs. That said, there are instances where getting a new roof may help you save money in the long run. For example, it can prevent costly water damage caused by extensive roof leaking.  

How You Can Save Money On Your Roof Replacement

Let us take a look at ways that can help you save money on roof replacement.

1. Understand The Costs  

There are three main costs to consider when you’re doing a roof replacement:

  • Materials: The essentials to fix the roof 
  • Labor: The payment for the professionals who will handle the repair job 
  • Disposal: Eliminating trash from the repair site

Depending on your budget for the repair job, you should take a closer look into these categories. 

2. Look Around For A Service Provider  

When you need roof services, you should get several quotes to find the best price that fits your budget. Remember though that the lowest quote is not always the good choice. A cheap and subpar roofing company will put your house at risk for delays and poor workmanship. If you’re going to go for the lowest quote, do your research on the company and workers. Although a better contractor usually costs more upfront, it can help save money in the long run. 

Make sure that your chosen roofer can handle the kind of roof replacement you’re considering. For instance, if you’re planning on renovating your garden, consider getting a conservatory roof replacement from Direct Roofing to create more room for your plants and transform the area into additional living space for you and your family.

3. Make The Most Of The Off-Season

A roofing job requires good weather. This is why most contractors are quite busy during the warmer season, and also why late fall is often a slow time for them. 

Depending on the climate in your area, you can start a roofing job at the end of winter or the start of spring. Doing so will allow you to better negotiate the price of the project. Try to be flexible with the work schedules due to the weather, but you can save on the roofing project.

4. Check Your Insurance And Warranties 

If you have insurance, there’s a possibility that your policy will cover some or most of the repair costs. However, there might be no need to file a claim. In case the repair or replacement job will only cost a couple of hundred bucks, it might be better to pay in cash. Save your insurance for other bigger issues in the future.   

5. Find The Best Materials 

Selecting the best materials is a good way to save money on roof replacement. Regardless of the type of roof you have, look for discounts, sales, rebates, and credits. Some hardware stores offer good sales. Check out the deals during the off-seasons or go for a brand that offers a great rebate. 

6. Understand That A Fixed Roof Can Save Money In The Long Run 

Even though roof replacement can be costly, it can help save a lot of money in the long run. When a roof is in poor condition, it can cost you in different ways such as: 

  • An increase in cooling and heating bills: When your roof is damaged, it can’t provide ample protection against the elements
  • Water leaks: These result in damage to the walls and floors or replacement of furniture. Leaks inside the house can also disrupt the electricity or start a fire.

You can save a lot of money by fixing your roof. While repairs or a replacement can be expensive, it’s an investment that pays for itself in the long run.  

7. Handle Some Of The Tasks  

If you’re handy around the house, you can try doing some of the roofing work on your own. Although the installation of the roof requires the skills of a professional, you can save some money by tackling the removal of the old roofing and the disposal by yourself.

Roof Repair Vs. Roof Replacement: 6 Factors To Consider

Unlike re-finishing cabinets or re-painting your room, roof repairing and replacing are significant home improvement projects. You don’t want to do a quick repair on damaged spots only to find out the issue runs deeper or tear down your whole roof and spend thousands of dollars when minor repairs should be enough. If you’re wondering what to do with a damaged roof, here are essential factors to keep in mind.  

1. Age

As mentioned, roofs are designed to be durable and withstand harsh weather. However, nothing lasts forever. Every roofing material has its expiration or recommended lifespan, which you can use to determine which processes are necessary.  

Generally, if your roof is still years away from retiring, but you see damages, it may still thrive with minor patch-ups. But if your roof’s lifespan is almost over and you’re seeing signs of deterioration due to aging, such as sagging, replacing your roof may be a better investment.

2. Condition

Roof's condition

Image Credits: Rusco-windows.com

Your roof’s condition or extent of damage is another factor that can help you decide between repair and replacement.  

If you have minor to moderate damage covering 30% of your roof, you can still try to fix it. However, note that some damages may not be obvious, so you’ll need to hire a professional roofing company.  

In contrast, replacing your roof is a more suitable option if the damage to your roof is too much, whether from a fallen tree or widespread deterioration of sheathing or metal rusting.

3. Cost

Roof repair and replacement are both expensive. However, roof replacement can be quite costly, with the prices going up to thousands of dollars. This depends on the roof’s size, the damage’s extent, and your location. This may be on the higher side for most people. If roof replacement is not within your budget, you should work with your roofing contractor to do some repairs until you are ready.  

Installing a new roof is obviously more expensive than simple roof repairs. In the US, roof replacement can cost you USD$5,500 to USD$11,000, with an average cost of USD$8,000. The good news is you’ll recoup some of the cost of tearing down and replacing your roof when you decide to sell your home. In fact, a roof replacement will return about 60% of its value when selling your home.  

However, if you don’t have the budget, roof repairs may be a better option to patch up issues with your roofing system. The typical cost of repairing minor roof issues such as broken shingles can cost you between USD$377 and USD$1,727. However, major roof repairs like fixing structural damage can go up to USD$7,500.

You may be able to lower your repair if you decide to go the do-it-yourself (DIY) route.  However, while repairs may be cheaper than replacement, the cost may pile up if you’ll need to do constant repairs.  

4. The Affected Area

Replace asphalt shingles on the affected area

Image Credits: Fortressroofingutah.com

The affected area of the roof is a good way to tell whether to repair or replace your roof. If the damage is limited to a small area, like a leak in the dining room, you only need to repair it, and you are good to go. However, installing a new roof will give you better service if the damage affects more than 3o percent of your roof.

5. The Length of Your Stay

How long you plan to stay in your house determines whether you need to repair or replace your damaged roof. When homeowners who have invested in several homes want to add value to their property, the roofing system is popular. Some call for immediate roofing upgrades, which in this case, will need roof repair.

Installing a new roof will take a longer time. Therefore, it is ideal for those houses that do not need immediate settlement. Depending on the complexity of the damages, the size of the roof, weather conditions, obtaining permits, and other approvals, roof replacement may take 20-30 days.

Replacing missing shingles

Image Credits: Loans.com.au

Advantages:

  • Roof repairs are more affordable compared to roof replacement which is quite costly
  • Roof repairs take a shorter time to finish, while roof replacement takes plenty of time.
  • Although roof repairs can help extend the lifespan of your roof, roof replacement gives you a roof that can last a lifetime.

Disadvantages:

  • Replacing a few shingles may be difficult to match the color of original colors, while replacing the roof creates a curb appeal.
  • Patching roof replacement material can lead to more problems, but replacing a roof will not have issues.
  • Roof replacement is quite costly compared to roof repair.

Takeaway on Roof Repair vs. Replacement

As a barrier that helps protect you from rain, sun, snow, wind, and extreme weather conditions, roofs are a critical part of any residential building. Without this structure, your home’s interior will deteriorate in no time. That said, roof damages and regular wear and tear are inevitable. When it happens, it’s good to know whether you’ll need a repair or replacement.  

FAQ About Roof Repair vs. Replacement

1. Is It Better to Repair or Replace a Roof?

Although both roof replacement and repair improve your roofing system and give it a new life. They are quite different in many aspects. If your roof is severely damaged and has decking, such as mold growth, serious leaks, or massive gaps, it may be a candidate for roof replacement. However, if it has minor damages or leaks, you will need to repair it.

Repairing the roof is the simplest and cheapest way to restore your roof’s appearance. Unlike installing a new roof, roof repair is cheaper and does not require extensive time, labor, and materials. This is because it does not require you to dismantle the roof rather, you only replace the new shingle or roofing material on top of the old, worn-out ones.

Only ensure that you can match the old material with the new material. But this also means that roof repair does not last long, like roof replacement, since you are only covering up the damages. It only offers a temporary solution to prevent leaks. Repairing or replacing your roof are both large projects and should be given careful thought.

 Whether to repair your roof or replace it depends on factors such as the roof's age, the roof condition, your budget, and the time you have.

2. When Should I Repair or Replace My Roof?

Knowing when to repair or replace your roof will be highly determined by what caused the damage.

1. Damage causes

When aging or structural problems cause damage to your roof, it's time to replace it. However, if your roof suffers minor damage due to a storm or poor weather, repairing it may solve the problem.

2. The extent of the damage

When the damage to your roof is too much, repairing it may not be the best option. You may need to install a new roof so as to get better protection over your head. Though sometimes it’s not easy to tell the extent of your roof’s damage, it is better to replace it if it’s approaching its end of life.

You will also need to consider repairing your roof if it has structural problems, leaks in several places, or the shingles are coming off or missing.

3. What Are the Signs of Roof Damage?

1. Damaged shingles

Your roof’s shingles are supposed to work in the best shape in order to keep your house safe from weather elements. However, these shingles wear and tear with time and will need replacement. One sign of damaged shingles is the accumulation of shingle granules in your gutter runoff.

When these granules peel off, they indicate a loss of durability. These damages could be caused by severe weather like strong winds or hail damage. This can eventually lead to leakage. Shingles hold better if fastened to the roof deck. Damaged shingles are not attractive either.

2. Issues in the attic

Examine your walls to see if you can spot water stains running from the ceiling to the walls. This indicates a damaged roof; you should repair it as soon as possible to avoid further damage. Bigger problems. These tiny leaks can lead to molds or destroyed insulation. If your attic has mold, rotting wood, or damaged items, you have an issue with your roof.

3. Mold and moss

Moss, mold, and fungi are an indication of moisture in your roof. This mold can spread due to moisture buildup and cause costly damage and impact your respiratory health. As you examine your roof for mold and moss, check the hidden corners around your roof.

4. Rusting of gutters

Rusting gutters are a clear indication of a damaged roof.Check if your gutters are leaking,which can be caused by rusted seams. Gutter seams can be opened by frequent contraction and expansion.

5. The appearance of shiners

Nails that are missing their framing members are called shiners. The nails can be condensed by moisture that escapes to the attic. When the frost melts during the day, it drips and frosts up again during at night. Check your roof for damages.

4. Why Is Replacing a Roof Expensive?

Every roofing contractor that you hire has operating expenses that must keep their business running. They also need to make profits. Some of these costs are fixed, while others are flexible. The size of the company determines these costs.  Some of the common roofing contractors’ operating costs include building and utilities, advertising and promotions, taxes, licenses and bonds, payrolls, and general liability insurance.

Labor and time also make the replacement of roofs very costly. Replacing a roof is labor-intensive, and therefore, it takes a lot of time. This increases the cost of replacing a roof significantly. There has also been a sharp rise in roofing materials due to their scarcity and higher demand than supply, which has increased prices.

The roofing material that you choose will adversely contribute to the cost of replacing the roof. Different materials come with different price points. For example, roofing tile is costlier than asphalt shingles.

5. What Are the Most Common Types of Roof Repairs?

1. Improperly Installed Flashing and Other Materials

Roof flashing or drip edge keeps water from running underneath your shingles. When this flashing does not adhere firmly to where it is mounted, water flows underneath the roofing material, which may cause them to rot. You must therefore replace your drip edges as soon as they start leaking.

2. Shingle or Tile Replacement

Natural elements like sun, wind, and natural disasters can cause damage to tiles and shingles. You will therefore need to repair granule loss, blistering, splitting, shrinkage, broken shingles, and lifted shingles.

3. Gutter Maintenance and Repair

Most gutters lack basic maintenance and routine cleaning. Debris, branches, and leaves can cause the gutters to overflow or detach from your roof. This can also cause the deterioration of your facia board. Observe routine maintenance of your gutter and replace them as soon as they detatch from your roof.

4. Ponding Water

Ponding water can be caused by sun damage, weathering, poorly installed drains, or underlying structural issues. If left unrepaired, it can cause severe damage to the roof membrane and result in roof leaks.

5. Leaks

As the roofing materials start experiencing excessive wear and damage, they can cause water leaks which can damage your home. These leaks need to be repaired as soon as they occur to prevent adverse damage.

6. Poor Ventilation

Poor ventilation can cause your entire roof to deteriorate and suffer severe damage. It can also lead to high energy costs, paint damage, and leaks in the attic. Improving the ventilation of your house will prevent roof deterioration and hence reduce the costs of roof repairs.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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