Your Roof: Repair or Replace?

by Jon Nunan

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In many situations, the decision to repair or replace a roof is an easy one. If a single, isolated leak is found that affects only a small section of your roof, repair is often the better choice; if old age has taken its toll on your entire roof, replacement is the obvious choice. Unfortunately, roof repair vs. roof replacement is not always such an easy decision. In many cases, the best choice ultimately rests not only on the damage that is done, but on the roofing material you're dealing with. The following information on common roofing material options is here to help you decide whether repair or replacement is right for you after damage occurs:

Common Roofing Material Choices
For residences, the five most common roofing material options are asphalt, metal, slate, tile, and wood. Each of these materials can be either repaired or replaced when damage occurs, but their individual characteristics and life expectancy will play a huge role in which is the most cost-effective route for you!

Asphalt Shingles are easily the most popular roofing material choice in the nation. While cheap, dependable, and easy to install, asphalt shingles are also one of the least durable options on the market.

Wood Roofing is not near as popular as it once was. Though its aesthetic appearance is second to none, wood roofing materials are more expensive than asphalt and require more maintenance than most other roofing materials.

Metal Roofing is gaining popularity as a roofing material. Though older metal roofing was rightfully accused of being noisy during rain showers, subject to rust, and a poor insulator, today's metal roofing provides homeowners with an excellent balance of affordability and durability.

Tile Roofing is extremely popular in certain areas of the country. Very expensive and very durable, tile roofing is an investment that will not only make your home more attractive, but raise its value, as well.

Slate Roofing is pretty much the alpha and omega of roofing material options. When it comes to durability, nothing can match it; its appearance isn't for everyone, and whole it has been known to last for more than 100 years, its incredibly high price tag makes slate a material that most homeowners find cost-prohibitive.

Repair vs. Replacement for Different Roofing Material Options
Again, some roofing material choices are better candidates for repair than others. With slate and tile, replacement is almost never the best choice. Unless your slate or tile roof is more than 70 years old, there's a good chance that even extensive repair will be a better investment than installing an entirely new roof. On the flipside, with a wood roof fallen into disrepair or damaged enough to require extensive work, the best option might not only be replacement, but replacement with a different material. Though there are plenty of homeowners who feel the low life expectancy and high maintenance needs of wood roofing are a fair trade off for its appearance, wood roofing has gone out of style for a reason! If old age has taken its toll on your wood roof, you should (at the very least) take a glance at the cost and performance of more durable roofing material choices before you decide to go with wood again.

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Those in the know can't say enough good things about modern metal roofing. Over its extremely long lifetime, metal roofing will rarely require repair (unlike tile and slate that, while characterized by the longest life spans in the roofing world, are also brittle, often leading to many smaller repairs over their lifetimes). Chances are, if your metal roof has aged long enough to require repair on any kind of frequent basis, it has already done its job for decades and should be retired and replaced. If a metal roof is damaged by impact, there is a high probability that repair will fix the damage for good and the roof as a whole will perform well for years to come.

Asphalt is probably the most difficult material to deal with when trying to decide whether replacement or repair is your best option. It is true that asphalt can be patched up over and over again, but it is also true that it is likely to age far more quickly than other roofing materials. The big benefit of an asphalt roof, however, is that it is so affordable, you can completely replace one several times over before you hit the cost of a single installation of other roofing material options. When asphalt roofing is damaged or aging, an independent roofing inspector is your best friend. Not only will he or she be able to give you sound, impartial advice on what preventative measures can be taken to extend the life of your roof, they will also be able to give you an unbiased opinion of whether replacement of repair is the better decision.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.