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

Roof repair is sufficient to fix moderate to minor damages and put a stop to it to solve typical roofing problems. Roof repair is a solution that can help bring your roofing back to life as it provides repair services for the roof.

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Indeed, it is one of the projects that every homeowner should embark on occasionally. When it comes to roofs, one cannot overemphasize the importance of early detection of issues so that they may be rectified before they escalate. It commonly entails operation on localized sections of your roof. Roof repair work may therefore involve simple cementing of small holes and affects or substitution of sheddings or other damaged roofs.

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.   

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This is because a new roof installation costs more than a simple roof repair as it demands more work. In the same respect, there are some conditions under which replacement of the roof turns out to be more economical. For instance, it can help stop cases where the roof is leaking and this has led to wastage of a lot of water.

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. 

Ensure in advance that the roofer you are going to hire is ready to perform the roof replacement you plan. For example, maybe you are already thinking of redesigning your garden to make it an ideal place to spend time with your family or to grow plants then why not get a conservatory roof replacement from Direct Roofing to create more room for your plants and turn your garden into more of a living space for you and each one of your family members.

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 

Deciding on the choice of materials is a sure way of cutting the cost of roof replacement. Regardless of the type of roof that is on the house, there should be the consideration of discounts, sales, rebates, and credits. Despite this, some hardware stores have good sales. Wait for the off-seasons to get discounted products or choose a brand with a good back-end rebate.

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

Although roof replacement costs a lot of money, it is a worthy investment as it helps to save a lot of money in the future. When a roof is in poor condition, it can cost you in different ways such as: 

  • An increase in cooling and heating bills: In the case of a damaged roof, one cannot hope for sufficient shelter from the vagaries of weather.
  • Water leaks: This leads to the formation of holes on the walls and floors or even the changing of furniture. The leakage which is a common feature of the houses can also affect the electricity supply or cause a fire outbreak.

There are many benefits of repairing your roof, one of them being that it will cost much less than roofing a new house. It can be relatively costly to undergo repairs or get a replacement, but this cost is worth it in the long run.

7. Handle Some Of The Tasks  

For those people who like handling minor home improvement tasks on their own, you can get involved in doing some of the roof work on your own. While it is recommended that the installation of the new roof is done by a professional, one can save some amount of money through the removal of the old roof and disposing of it on their own.

Roof Repair Vs. Roof Replacement: 6 Factors To Consider

As compared to such tasks as re-finishing cabinets or re-painting your room, roof repairing and roof replacing are major home improvement tasks. You do not want to fix small areas with visible signs of damage and find out that the problem is more serious or replace the entire roof and spend thousands of dollars, while some patches should suffice. If you are in a dilemma on whether to repair a damaged roof or not, the following are some things you need to consider.

1. Age

As highlighted, roofs are made to be strong and last through different weather conditions. However, nothing lasts forever. Each type of roof material also has an expiration or recommended life expectancy and this is where you can decide which processes are necessary.

In general, if your roof has not reached its lifespan for retirement, and you observe some damages, then it may still perform well with minor repairs. However, if your roof is old and signs are that it needs replacement because it has aged or developed other related issues like sagging, then replacement may be the best option.

2. Condition

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Another aspect that can assist you in the decision-making process is the state of your roof or the degree of its deterioration.

In as much as there is minor to moderate damage that covers only 30% of the roof, repair is still possible. However, some damages are not easily noticeable and, therefore, will require the services of a professional roofing company.

On the other hand, if the damage is too much due to a fallen tree or damage to the sheathing or metal rusting then replacement is more appropriate.

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

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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 30 percent of your roof.

5. The Length of Your Stay

The length of time that you intend to use your house will dictate whether you need to repair the roof or not, depending on the extent of the damage. As many homeowners have invested in one or more houses, if they wish to make an addition to their property, the roofing system is their favorite. There are those who recommend the roofing be changed immediately, which, in this case, will require roofing repair.

When it comes to installing a new roof, more time will be taken. Hence, it is suitable for houses that will not require to be settled anytime soon. Depending on the type of damage, the size of the roof, climatic conditions, procurement of a permit and other clearances, it may take about 20 to 30 days for roof replacement.

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  • 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.


  • 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?

While both roof replacement and repair enhance your roofing system and provide it with a brand new outlook, they are not one and the same thing. They are very dissimilar in a number of ways. If your roof has decking, some of the conditions that warrant roof replacement include mold growth, serious leaks, or major gaps on the roof. But if it has some minor damages or leaks, then you have to fix it.

Painting is the simplest and cheapest method of giving back your roof its natural appearance. Roof repair is cheaper as compared to installing a new roof because it does not consume much time, labour and materials. This is because it does not need you to remove the roof instead, you only place the new shingle or the roofing material on top of the old and damaged one.

However, ensure that you can match the old material with the new material. However, this also implies that roof repair is short-lived, just like roof replacement because here you are only masking the issue. It only gives a temporary solution to avoid leakage. Replacing a roof or fixing one is a big task and should therefore not be taken lightly.

The factors that determine whether to repair or replace a roof include the age of the roof, the current state of the roof, your pocket, and the time you have.

2. When Should I Repair or Replace My Roof?

It will be very important to differentiate between what needs repair or total replacement and this will depend on the cause of the damage.

1. Damage causes

It is necessary to replace the roof when it is exhibiting signs of aging or when the structure of the building itself weakens the construction of the roof. But if the roof has some small damage that it received from a storm or some poor weather conditions, it may require some repair to solve the issue.

2. The extent of the damage

If repairing a roof becomes unbearable since the damages are too extensive, then go for roof replacement. It may be necessary for you to consider putting on a new roof; this is because you require a much better cover over your head. Even though sometimes it may not be very clear how severe the damage is, it is not bad to replace the roof if it is getting close to the end of its lifespan.

The other reason that you will need to decide to repair your roof is if it has structural issues, multiple leaks, or has shingles that are falling off or are completely gone.

3. What Are the Signs of Roof Damage?

1. Damaged shingles

Your roof’s shingles are supposed to be in the best form to serve the purpose of protecting your house from harsh weather conditions. However, these shingles degrade with time and will require replacement at some point in time. Another indicator of damaged shingles is seeing shingle granules on the gutter runoff.

When these granules start peeling off then it means that the durability has started to fade away. These damages can be as a result of extreme weather conditions for instance, strong winds or hail storm. This can eventually lead to leakage. Shingles perform better if nailed to the roof deck. Worn out shingles are not good to look at 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

Gutter corrosion is a sure sign that the roof is failing. See whether your gutters are leaking, which is due to rusted seams. Gutter seams can be opened due to the expansion and contraction of the material over time.

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.

Another factor that makes the replacement of roofs very expensive is labor and time. The process of replacing a roof requires a lot of time, because it is very labor-consuming. This implies that the cost of putting up a new roof is quite high. Another factor that has also contributed to high cost of roofing materials is scarcity and high demand as compared to supply.

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

Drip edge or roof flashing is the piece that prevent water from dripping under your shingles. When this flashing does not stick well to where it is installed, water moves under the roofing material, and they may begin to rot. You must therefore replace your drip edges as soon as they start to develop leaks.

2. Shingle or Tile Replacement

Weather conditions such as sun and wind, as well as natural calamities like storms, can affect tiles and shingles. You will, therefore, need to repair granule loss, blistering, splitting, shrinkage, broken shingles, and lifted shingles.

3. Gutter Maintenance and Repair

Many people do not clean and maintain their gutters regularly as they should. This can make the gutter overflow or even detach from the roof due to debris, branches and leaves. This can also lead to the degradation of your facia board. Ensure that you regularly maintain your gutter and get new ones as soon as they pop off from your roof.

4. Ponding Water

Ponding water basically results from sun damage, weathering, improper installation of drains or any major structural defects. If not repaired, it has the potential to damage the roof membrane and lead to the formation of leaks on the roof.

5. Leaks

When the roofing materials begin to wear and deteriorate, they can allow water to seep in and compromise the integrity of your home. These leaks have to be dealt with as soon as they are identified in order to avoid further harm.

6. Poor Ventilation

Lack of proper flow of fresh air in your house can greatly affect your entire roof with severe damage. It can also lead to high energy costs, paint damage, and leaks in the attic. Ensuring sufficient air circulation within the house helps in preventing the deterioration of the roof hence reducing the costs of roof maintenance.

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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