Roof Repair or Replacement: Which is the Best Choice?

If your roof is leaking or damaged, you must decide how to solve the problem. Choosing between roof repair and replacement will depend greatly on the age of your roof and the amount of damage.

Roof longevity by material

Asphalt and fiberglass shingles commonly have a life span of 15 to 20 years. High-grade shingles may offer 25 years of service. Roofs built with wood shingles or shakes have an average life of 15 to 30 years.

Rubber roofing is available in shingles or large rolls. Depending on the installation and rubber quality, a rubber roof can last from 10 to more than 30 years. Flat roofs, like those on mobile homes, may use a foam roofing material. The foam’s durability will depend on the weather and general care of the roof.

Metal roofs tend to have the longest life spans. Steel and copper materials can last up to 50 years. Tin roofs can also last for a lengthy period if they are properly cared for. Metal roofing is one of the more expensive choices.

Slate roofing is one of the most durable types. A quality slate installation should last from 40 to 75 years.

Choosing to repair your roof

If your current roof is new and the damage is minor, a roof repair is most likely your best choice. Roof repair will involve replacing any damaged shingles or tiles. In many cases, some of the surrounding area will need replacement.

A roof leak may also come from damage to flashing material around ventilation or other roof openings. In this case, repairs could be as simple as applying new sealant. New flashing is required if the old material is damaged.

Choosing to replace your roof

If your roof has extensive damage, you may wish to replace the entire roof. Consider the age of your current roof and the total amount of damage as you make your decision between a roof repair and replacement.

Should you have a complete roof tear-off?

Removal of the old roof is one of the factors in the cost of roof replacement. A tear-off involves the removal of all old layers of roofing materials and replacement of damaged wood. New felt is installed before new shingles.

In most cases, if you only have one layer of roofing material, you may add a second layer. If there are already two layers of roofing material in place, a tear-off is normally recommended. Some ordinances will allow for a third layer.

Repair or replace?Your final determination depends upon four factors: replacement cost, repair cost, roof safety and your personal financial situation. Repair most likely is the proper choice for a newer roof with 10 or more years of service remaining and only minor damage.

Replacement should be considered in cases of major roof damage or when the roof is near the end of its life expectancy. Replacement is the best choice if a repair will not offer a safe solution, when the substrate of the roof has been damaged, the roof may not be safe. Consider your financial picture. Replacement may need postponing. If you have homeowner’s insurance coverage for the damage, include this in your determination.

ENERGY STAR roofing materials can cut your cooling needs by 10 to 15 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2010 unintentional falls accounted for over 9 million non-fatal injuries. Be safe, hire a professional


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