If you own a home, you know how taxing it can be to stay on top of all the areas of your property that need maintenance or repair.
Homes require constant care and ongoing troubleshooting. Homeowners lead busy lives and don’t always have time for this, which is why it’s important to have contractors you trust.
You can’t count on your home to just care for itself; conscious and conscientious maintenance is an undeniable necessity. When it comes to the health of your roof, this is even more important.
One decision almost all homeowners will eventually have to make is whether to repair or replace their roof. This is a big decision that doesn’t always have a straightforward answer.
Perhaps, if you are able to pinpoint an isolated leak affecting just a tiny portion of your roof, repair is the best choice. If your roof is nearing the end of its projected lifespan, however, is it really worth investing more money in it? It might be a smarter decision to replace the roof and start fresh.
Unfortunately, roof repair vs. roof replacement is not always such a clear and easy decision to make.
Deciding between repair and replacement depends not only on the type and extent of damage, but on the type of roofing material you’re dealing with. That’s why having a bit of knowledge about common roofing materials can help you decide whether repair or replacement might be the more viable choice.
When deciding on a roofing material, you need to consider durability, longevity, weight, resistance to weather and more. If you have a slate or tile roof–both durable although expensive materials–having extensive repairs done will almost always be a better choice than having the entire roof replaced. This is because these materials are very expensive and have extremely long lifespans.
Slate can be expected to last for up to 100 years; it is considerably more durable than many other options and is highly resistant to the elements. Slate’s appearance isn’t for everyone, however, and its high price tag makes it a material that most homeowners find cost-prohibitive.
Clay or concrete tile is another extremely durable, although heavy, roofing material. Commonly found in the Southwest, clay roofs are practically immune to damage and can last for decades. Tile roofing is an expensive investment that will not only make your home more attractive, but raise its value, as well.
On the flipside, if you’re looking at a wood roof that’s fallen into disrepair or is damaged enough to require extensive work, a replacement– or even better, a replacement with a different material — may be the smarter course of action.
While some homeowners may feel that the short life expectancy and the high maintenance needs of wood roofing are justified by its elegance appearance, there are so many other much more durable roofing options available that cost less and perform better. Not nearly as popular as it once was, wood still boasts an aesthetic appearance second to none. Wood roofing materials are among the more expensive on the market, and require more maintenance than most other roofing materials. Typically made from cedar, southern pine, or redwood, wood shingles can last from 15 years to several decades.
Modern metal and aluminum roofing both offer an extremely long lifetime, and will rarely require repairs. Only when your metal roof has aged so much that it requires frequent repairs — typically decades into its lifetime — should metal roofing need to be retired and replaced.
Even when damaged by impact, metal roofing can be easily repaired. Metal is extremely sturdy and fares extraordinarily well in the face of storms, hurricanes, wind, rain and even fire. Metal roofs can last for decades; today’s metal roofing solutions provide homeowners with an excellent balance of affordability and durability.
Asphalt lends itself well to both repairs and replacement. It can be patched up over and over again, but on the downside, it also ages far more quickly than other roofing materials. Then again, asphalt roofing is so affordable that you can completely replace your asphalt shingle roof several times over for the same cost as a single installation of other roofing materials!
Among one of the most commonly used roofing material choices in the US, asphalt, while cheap, dependable, and easy to install, is also one of the least durable options on the market. Asphalt roofs can be counted on to last between 15 and 20 years, with new, higher-quality variants good for up to 40 years.
Keeping your roof in good repair
Roof damage is usually gradual but often inescapable. Several factors can contribute to it, the most common being:
Condensation: A poorly ventilated attic can lead to condensation, which is typically caused by temperature differences between attic air and outside air.
Wind: High winds can lift roof shingles, allowing water to seep in underneath and find its way to the roof deck; this can cause rotting.
Sun: Sustained exposure to the sun can lead to the deterioration of roofing materials.
Rain: Missing or damaged shingles can be infiltrated by water, causing damage to ceilings, walls, insulation and electrical systems.
Snow and ice: Melting snow re-freezes at a roof’s overhang, causing ice dams that can block drainage into the gutter. Water then backs up under the shingles and seeps into the home.
- Trees and leaves: Tree branches blown by the wind can often become lodged under shingles or can puncture them. Leaves on a roof surface can retain moisture and sometimes cause rotting or block gutter drainage.
- In your home, there are a few things you can watch out for by yourself, to better assess what you need to do with your roofing:
Moisture: Do your interior walls show signs of moisture or brown stains? Is there peeling paint? These are signs of a roof leak, which can be small enough for you to make do with repairs, or extensive enough to cause moisture damage to the roofing layer, for which you should consider a full roof replacement.
Missing or damaged shingles: Shingles sometimes curl, are split, torn or completely missing. Localized damage can be fixed with simple repairs, but if more than 30 percent of the roof is damaged, a new roof may be needed.
An unexpected weather event: Was your home recently hit by a tornado or hurricane? Replacing the entire roof might be the right solution, as there might be hidden issues that could trigger bigger problems down the line.
Age: How old is your roof? Is it past its expected lifespan? If so, roof replacement is almost always the smarter decision.
- To be safe, it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced roofer to conduct a thorough inspection and assessment of your roof. Even if the roofer determines that a completely new roof is needed, you should think of the expense as a viable investment, as you might be saving yourself a lot of grief and money in the long term. Whatever you do, heed you roofer’s advice and act on it quickly.