Knowing When to Repair or Replace Different Roofing Materials

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 20, 2016

When to Repair or Replace Your Roof

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.

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.

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  1. Amanda Kellgren, October 14:

    We have a leaking roof and need repair or replacement. We are currently pricing and researching our options.

  2. HomeAdvisor, October 20:

    Hi Amanda – Check out our Roofing Cost Guide for more information as you research. It should help you make a decision on whether or not it’s worth a repair or if a full replacement is necessary. Consulting with a professional is also recommended when making a decision on how to move forward.

  3. Kathryn, June 28:

    Our neighborhood was recently hit with a heavy hailstorm. Several neighbors are getting roof replacements. Our roof is only 5 years old. How do we know what needs to be done, and whether we can trust the estimate?

  4. Bill Klingener, September 26:

    my roof was damaged by a falling tree – the adjuster wants me to replace I/2 of the roof – it has 2 layers and is asphalt over 25 years old and so most of the pebble grit is gone and the flaps are brittle- is it with in code to only replace I/2 of the roof with a new layer removing the old while leaving the other side with the old 2 layers – there is no venting on the roof crown- is there not a roofing code in Georgia and do I need a building permit to get this cleared – my nationwide insurance adjuster from another state wont work with the repair company that they recommended.

  5. marshall bromberg, October 3:

    Our roof is about 25 years old it is the second roof SHOULD WE TEAR OFF BOTH ROOFS TO THE WOOD OR JUST PUT ANOTHER ROOF OVER EXISTING ONE?

  6. Margaret Winters, October 20:

    I am looking to a roofer to replace the roof on my house and an outbuilding with a metal roof, I have shingles now but need the roof replaced and would like to have the job done before bad weather sets in, would like to have someone to come and give me a estimate.

  7. L. Nelson, January 26:

    What is the normal/ average price for new roof in Gardendale, Al.?

  8. Lakshmi R Setlur, March 27:

    Can you please give us some information about fibreglass roofing and it’s pros and cons?

  9. Audrey Gillette, November 15:

    I have slate roof. 70 years old. I now have an isolated leak after a recent storm. Nationwide insurance is refusing to pay out. Could the slate be repaired? I am very proud and love my slate roof. I usually replace slate that flies off but this is the first time I’ve had an actual leak.

  10. lewis willard, March 3:

    Most manufactures will not warrant their shingles anymore if the roof is not stripped down to the wood even if it is one layer. Best thing to do is strip the whole roof and start with weather guard as a base. Buy the best Hi Def shingle you can find. Some have warranties of up to 50 years. Spend the money and don`t worry any more.

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