Roof Repair vs. Replacement: Factors to Consider

Author: Lee Polevoi
April 21, 2020

Homeowners deciding between roof repair vs. replacement should consider several key factors before making a decision. The best place to start is by understanding that roof repair is often a satisfactory option for addressing smaller, more unique problems (such as torn shingles or cracked flashings), while roof replacement is the optimal choice for handling big structural issues.

Roof of home with peeling asphalt shingles.
Deciding between roof repair or roof replacement? Ask an experienced roofer for help.

Key Factors for Homeowners to Consider

What are the key factors to keep in mind when faced with a choice between roof repair vs. replacement? Ascertaining the age of the roof and the level of damage — inside and out — is a good starting point for planning your project.

Roofing experts generally agree that for a roof under twenty years old, it's best to determine if specific roof damage can be repaired on its own without an overall replacement. Minor repairs for minor problems can help prolong the life of the roof. Large-scale or structural damage to an aging roof, however, means a replacement may be in order.

Another sign pointing to roof replacement is if your roof was severely damaged after a tornado, hailstorm, flood or hurricane. Replacement is often the best option for a roof with caved-in portions or large missing patches. Even after an ordinary thunderstorm, water that oozes under a roof's shingles can wreak havoc in the home. Mold, peeling paint or dark and spongy spots in the ceiling are an indication you should hire a contractor to test your roof's structure below the surface.

Finally, the scale of your roof project may change over the course of a season or two. A few missing shingles after a blizzard typically requires a simple, isolated repair. On the other hand, a large number of shingles that are buckling or curling once winter is over might make a springtime roof replacement the best choice.

Budgeting for Roof Repair vs. Replacement

Balancing the need for repair or replacement is a big decision for homeowners with limited financial options. Rather than leaving a roof to become worse if you can't afford an immediate replacement, look for a local contractor who can offer a variety of financing plans. A seasoned roofer will be able to tell you if wallet-friendly minor repairs will be the solution, or just prolong a costly replacement. They may also recommend partial replacement if it's a reasonable option.

You should ask your contractor to match the color and material of your existing roof during repairs if you intend to sell your home in the near future. A patchy-looking roof may make potential buyers skeptical, but an attractive, freshly repaired one may increase the value of your home.

Warning Signs That Point to Roof Replacement

The following are indicators that replacement, rather than repair, could be the wisest option:

  • A buildup of shingle granules in gutters.
  • Visible sagging or numerous water spots.
  • Shingles peeling up (or clay or slate tiles falling off) across the entire roof.
  • Serious, widespread leaks.

The right repairs can extend a roof's lifespan. At the same time, the older the roof, the more likely it is that a contractor will recommend a full replacement.

Roof repair vs. replacement can be a tricky and expensive decision, and it's best made with the help of a skilled professional. Consult a roofing contractor with the right knowledge and experience to help you plan your next move.

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