Tearing off VS Installing a New Layer Over the Existing One

tearing off the old layer

Tear Off Vs. Overlay

When deciding to tear off vs. installing a new layer of shingles over the existing ones these are the pros and cons to consider. 

The roof is probably one of the most integral parts of the house. It is the most exposed part to natural factors such as heat, rain, and snow. Consequently, it also suffers the most wear and tear. There comes a point when repairs just won’t do.

Professionals would most likely recommend that you replace your roofing instead of further repairing as it can cause more harm than good.

Below are the pros and cons to consider in helping you decide which option might work best for your home and budget.

The Basics

The phrase “tear-off” is used to describe the process of removing the old shingles. This technique requires the complete removal of your existing roof installation and replacing it with a new one.

Overlay refers to keeping the existing roofing intact. The technique requires placing a new set of shingles over your existing roof installation. This is only recommended for roof installations that have not yet been overlaid.



1. Full replacement of current roof installation.

This method can protect a home from unknown problems in the future – respectfully speaking, you’ll have a new roof. If there’s a chance the decking is damaged, or if you previously dealt with leaks then a new roof will allow you to rest at ease knowing you have a new roof that will last for 20 – 30 years.  Since the roofers need to remove the current shingles, they be able to inspect the exact condition of your roof. This allows for any decking surface level repairs to be made.

2. Upgrade

There’s always a great deal of upside to upgrading. During the process of installing a new roof everything, including the decking, the water barrier, and the flashings can be repaired or replaced. That will ensure a leak-free water tight home.

3. Long lasting.

Now this one makes it worth every penny. A single layer of shingle traps less heat than multiple layered ones. This is an important factor to consider living in the Phoenix, Arizona (or other hot climate areas).  This makes the material last longer and withstands extreme temperatures more efficiently.

4. Value adding factor.

Having a brand new tear-off roof will add to the home’s resale value. Homeowners who are looking into buying resold properties have one major consideration: the cost of repairs.

Having your roof re-done through the tear-off technique will be a selling point for your home.


1. Cost

The tear-off technique is more costly than the overlay method. Naturally there is more work involved as well as additional cost to consider for things such as dumpster rental, haul away and landfill fees.

This is one of the major concerns that one must consider and compare against the benefits.



1. Cost

The overlay technique is a cheaper job than the tear-off option. This process simply requires adding another layer of shingles on top of the existing ones (and typically nothing more). This is why the project and labor costs are considerably lower.

2. Simple and Easy

Since the process to complete the overlaying job is straightforward, less time is required to complete it. This is why many homeowners opt for this method – typically do to budget.


1. Low Durability

This is a major concern for the overlaying technique. Since the purpose of this technique is to just cover an existing roof needed repairs can go unseen.  Additionally, as previously mentioned, two layers of shingles will trap in more of the sun’s UV rays. Consequently, this leads to faster wear and tear of the shingles.

2. Added strain.

This technique may lead to structural problems in the long run. Adding another layer of roofing basically gives you two roofs and that will be extra heavy on the structure.

3. Poor Aesthetics.

Shingles that have experienced years of wear and tear will have its defects such as: uneven roofing, curled and lifted shingles. Having a damaged base will result in poor installation and poor appearance. Instead of having a new looking roof you may be left with a slightly uneven-looking roof.

4. Harder to deck-check.

Since installing a new layer of shingles over the top of the existing ones doesn’t require you to strip the roof you never get a look at the condition of the underlayment and decking. This can prove to troublesome in the future.  Premature leaks and roof replacement can be the affect of this.

5. Harder to backtrace damages.

Since an overlay will give you two roofs, it also gives you two sources of damages. Water can travel in between the layers and leak anywhere. This makes future repairs more challenging.

6. Negative resale value.

Should you decide to sell your home, having an overlay done on your roof could leave a negative impact on the buyer. Having an overlay means that roof condition is unchecked and may require future repairs or premature replacement.

Final Thoughts

Having a soundly built and solid roof structure is essential for the integrity of your home. It provides protection from extreme weather conditions. Roof repairs whether done by overlaying or tear-off technique should be thought through thoroughly. It is important to consider long-term implications for each technique, not just the upfront price. You must decide if the long-term effects will eventually outweigh the upfront price of a new roof. Also, never forget that professional advice is really important. Roofing repairs are generally not for the DIY homemaker. The bottom line is your roof is arguably the most important component of your home. After all, it protects everything under it, so it’s not an area where you want to cut corners.

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