By replacing your worn-out roof, you’ll be giving your home better protection from the elements and improving its aesthetics.

If your shingle roof is showing signs of wear, there’s more than one way to revitalize it. Having a full tearoff will give you all the advantages of a brand new roof.

If you’re on a budget and your old roof is still in good shape, though, a roof overlay might make more sense for you.

© jenslphotography / Adobe Stock

Tearoffs: Reliable and Long-Lasting

As the name implies, this roof replacement method involves completely tearing off your existing roofing, then putting on a new roof.


All-new material – With a roof tearoff, every part of your roofing will be replaced with new material. If your decking or underlayment were deteriorating, that problem will be solved. Your roofer can also find and repair any developing leaks (explore roof leak detection and repair), which protects your whole home from mold and rot.

The option to upgrade – Construction companies don’t always use the highest quality materials, so if you bought an old house, a roof replacement is a good opportunity to upgrade. Before work starts, your roofer can help you choose the ideal materials for your roof.

You might want to switch from OSB (oriented strand board) to CDX plywood decking or use a synthetic roof underlayment instead of felt, depending on which is best for your roof’s structure and your climate conditions.

© brizmaker / Adobe Stock

Greater durability – As you might expect, a roof made of all-new materials will last longer than a roof with parts that have been exposed to the elements for a decade or more. During a tearoff, your roofer will have the chance to thoroughly examine all parts of your roof and make repairs to stop any developing problems before they cause serious damage.

Longer lifespan – A new, properly installed shingle roof can last 20 to 30 years, meaning it could potentially outlast an overlay by a decade or more.

Increased property value – A brand new roof can add more than $10,000 to your home’s resale value and also acts as a strong selling point. This makes a tearoff a smart choice if you’re planning to sell within the next few years. Any increase in the appraised value of your home depends on the condition of your existing roof. You’ll see a greater increase by replacing a deteriorating, leaky roof than by replacing a roof with only cosmetic damage.


Higher costs – On average, a tearoff roofing job costs around 25 percent more than an overlay. It takes a lot more labor to completely remove all the existing roofing material and then replace all the layers removed. The old roofing also has to be disposed of properly, which adds to the cost.

Overlays: Budget-friendly and Convenient

With this quicker, cheaper alternative, new shingles are installed on top of the existing shingles. This is only possible if the roof hasn’t been overlaid previously.


Lower costs – Because there’s so much less labor involved in simply installing new shingles over old ones, an overlay will cost you less than a tearout. Your roofer won’t need to rent a dumpster and deal with debris disposal regulations, so you’ll save on costs there, too. If you’re planning on completely replacing your roof within the next five to 10 years, an overlay is a practical way to enjoy the look of a new roof in the meantime. Just be aware that the extra layer of shingles will add to the cost of your next roof replacement.

© cherokee4 / Adobe Stock

Shorter work timeline – An overlay can be finished days sooner than a tearoff. That’s less time you’ll need to spend out of the house, saving you money and stress.

Less risk – Compared to a complete roof replacement, there’s a lot less that can go wrong during an overlay job. There’s no risk of a sudden storm interfering with the dry-in process, no falling debris that could damage your porch or your car, and no big dumpsters that could wreck your landscaping.


Lower quality – For an overlay to be as reliable as a tearoff, your existing roof would have to be in near-optimal condition. The problem is that without removing the shingles, your roofer can’t properly examine the roof to find out what condition it’s in. An experienced roofer might still be able to spot signs of hidden damage or make a good guess based on your roof’s age, but you’re relying on luck at that point.

Shorter lifespan – As you might expect, new shingles laid over damaged shingles and rotting decking won’t last as long as they could. To make matters worse, a roof with two layers of shingles holds in more heat, which speeds up deterioration. On average, an overlay lasts around 16 years. That said, for most shingles, the warranty is valid for the same length of time whether the shingles were used in an overlay or a tearoff.

Additional weight – The weight of another full layer of shingles places additional stress on the roof decking and your home’s structure. If your home is older or just somewhat structurally unsound, an overlay might not be a viable option.

Less visual appeal – Chances are your old shingles have suffered a fair amount of wear that’s left some of them torn, curling, or uneven. Those damaged shingles provide a substandard base for new shingles, so your new roof could turn out noticeably flawed no matter how skilled your roofer. Imperfect results are even more likely it your roof was made with something other than common three-tab shingles. If you’re unhappy with the overlay, you could end up paying for a tearout to have the whole thing redone before you planned.

Trickier maintenance – Another layer of shingles adds another layer of complexity to your roof. This makes it harder to track down the origin of any problems that develop. If a leak forms, the water will move through both layers of shingles, changing direction in a way that hides the source.

Before you can decide whether an overlay or a tearoff is the better choice, you’ll need to have an experienced roofer assess your roof. In most cases, unless you’re sure your existing roof is in good condition, a tearoff is the better option. The lower cost might make an overlay sound tempting, but if it leaves damage lingering under the new shingles, it puts your whole house at risk for moisture problems.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Henry Parker

Henry Parker

Henry Parker is a home improvement enthusiast who loves to share his passion and expertise with others. He writes on a variety of topics, such as painting, flooring, windows, and lawn care, to help homeowners make informed decisions and achieve their desired results. Henry strives to write high quality guides and reviews that are easy to understand and practical to follow. Whether you are looking for the best electric riding lawn mower, the easiest way to remove paint from flooring, or the signs of a bad tile job, Henry has you covered with his insightful and honest articles. Henry lives in Florida with his wife and two kids, and enjoys spending his free time on DIY projects around the house. You can find some of his work on Today’s Homeowner, where he is a regular contributor.

Learn More