To Re-Roof or Not to Re-Roof: Is an Overlay Really Your Best Option?

If you have a home for any decent length of time, there’s a good chance that you will need to have some work done on your roof at some point. Whether your roof gets damaged from wind and rain or it just needs a new look, there are a few options at your disposal for replacing your existing roof.

There are two main ways you can fix a roof. You can totally replace the shingles that are already on your roof, or you can shingle over them with what’s known as an “overlay.” As with most things, both ways of fixing a roof have their pros and cons. Here’s a quick guide to the two different options so you can determine which one’s right for you and your home.


Installing New Shingles

Replacing the damaged areas of your roof or the entire roof completely is the overall best things you can do if you don’t want problems in the future. In this scenario, professionals will remove the existing roofing and replace it with new shingles or roofing material of your choice.

The immediate problem that most people have with this method is the cost. It is the most expensive option, but, again, it’s also the best option. Sure, you may pay a little more upfront, but you’ll be able to avoid problems in the future that can cost you even more.

When your roof is replaced entirely, it gives the professionals a chance to look for leaks and other structural damage and repair it before it becomes a major problem. This also gives you the opportunity to completely reinvent your roof with the latest technology so that you have the best possible roofing available at the time. It may be the most expensive option, but you may be kicking yourself down the road if any problems arise from having not chosen this option.

Overlaying Your Roof

As you can probably guess, overlaying your roof is the inferior option, but it’s not unheard of and may make more sense to you depending on your situation.

The best thing about overlaying a roof is the cost and the time you will save. When professionals overlay a roof, they literally just lay the new roofing on top of the old, which allows them to work quickly and cleanly. This can lower the costs dramatically, saving you money up front

The downsides to overlay can be a problem, though. First, you now basically have two roofs, one on top of the other, which adds more weight to your house. This can cause structural problems down the road. Also, there’s no opportunity to look for leaks or structural damage because the old roof won’t be removed, and if you aren’t lucky, you can bet that there will be problems in the future.

Of course, the options are up to you.

More Problems With Overlay

Another possible issue with overlaying your roof rather than replacing it is that your local government may not allow such a practice.

Because of the possible drawbacks of overlay — structural problems, mainly — local building codes may not allow for the overlaying of a roof. This means that you need to spend time researching whether or not you’re allowed to overlay and then possibly having to petition the government to do so if they frown upon the practice. This will take time and money and it may even make the offset savings of overlaying in the first place disappear.

So What Should You Do?

As with any big project, you need to evaluate your needs and financial health in order to make the best decision.

Sure, replacing your roof entirely is the best long-term option, but it does cost more, If you are strapped for cash, your only option may be to go with an overlay, especially for a just a small portion of a damaged roof. On the other hand, if you have the money, then you should probably go for the new roof because it will last longer and prevent future problems.

In the end, it’s up to you which option you decide to go with. They each have their pros and cons, but total replacement seems like the way to go if you can manage it.

You should check in on the condition of your roof every so often to make sure it doesn’t need to be repaired. For more roofing concerns, you can visit


Nathan Holden is a construction worker who is always looking for the latest industry trends. When he finds them, he loves to share them by posting on homeowner and DIY blogs.



  1. 30th August 2017 / 2:10 pm

    You are right, installing a new roof, though expensive, is always a best and a long term effective solution, but to avoid going into a situation where you need to replace the roof before its life time is to get your roof inspected atleast twice an year by a qualified professional and carry out preventive maintenance when damages are small, otherwise these damages may grow to become bigger.
    Adam Sharpley recently posted…Is Roofing Warranty Going to Cover the Roof’s Lifespan?My Profile

  2. 6th January 2018 / 7:03 am

    I think this decision mus be based on the fact that whether you want to live in the house for a longer period of time or just want to stay for a while and then sell it off. If are in for a longer haul then it is always better to get the existing roof completely replaced otherwise you will do find with overlay because it is a cheaper option.
    Ron Pickle recently posted…Things to Consider in the Cost of Roof RepairMy Profile

  3. 9th February 2018 / 12:57 am

    Rebecca, I like your point about how replacing the entire roof is the best solution if you’re looking to avoid any problems in the future. I also like how a professional roofer can then look for any issues or structural damages when doing the replacement. I have a straight gabled roof with a 5/12 walk-able pitch. I’d love to replace my old 3-tab shingles with a newer architectural shingle. It might be time to have a licensed professional come out to assess my roof. I suppose if I need to replace my entire roof, I’d want to see if using a synthetic felt with three feet of ice and water shield going along the side of the eves would be recommended.

  4. 9th February 2018 / 9:10 pm

    It’s not a good idea to overlay a roof than a complete tear off and replacement for the very reason, is that you can’t examine the decking to determine if there is ant damage that need to be repaired.As you pointed out overlay will give you problems in future which we don’t like as and extra spending.Great blog to tackle!


  5. 19th March 2018 / 8:05 pm

    Hi Rebecca. You’re right. You always have to do with what makes sense financially. However, if your roof is in bad condition I would get the overlay with the intention of saving up for a new roof in the future. You can also ask your roofer if they over any financing or if they are willing to barter. If you’re a plumber, hair dresser, baker, etc, you may be able to work a deal. It’s OK to think outside of the box when it comes to paying for a new roof and it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Just ask:
    “Can you space the payments out?”
    “Do you offer financing?”
    “Do you barter?”
    “How can we make this work?”
    “Do you offer discounts for xyz?”

  6. 6th September 2018 / 9:07 am

    I agree that a replacing a very old roof is important and the right thing to do. I once hired a contractor to check the old roof that my house had. He said age is a key factor until your roof has battled some crazy weather. He was a skilled man. He also shared that replacement decision must rest upon how old and how much of the roof needs a job. Cost vs benefits is the right approach.

    • Ellie Hill
      12th September 2018 / 9:13 am


  7. 27th September 2018 / 2:38 am

    This is some really good information about roofing options. It is good to know that overlays will law new roofing materials over the top of the existing. That is a good thing for me to now that it would be smart for me to know as a new homeowner.

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