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Do You Need To Replace The Roof Decking Before A Roof Installation?

Posted on January 4, 2024

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Do You Need To Replace The Roof Decking Before A Roof Installation?

Replacing the entire roof deck is a significant investment, and if it is in good condition during a roof replacement, then homeowners might ask, do I need to replace the roof decking? Replacing roof decking means replacing the sheathing or plywood installed beneath the roofing materials, and it can be expensive. 

As a roofing contractor in Tulsa, OK, we don’t want homeowners in a situation where they prematurely replace their roof deck or, on the other hand, don’t perform repairs when necessary. Instead, we are here with this blog post to help you make informed decisions about your home. Read the blog post till the end for everything you need to know about when to replace roof decking. 

When Should You Replace Roof Decking?

Roof Decking
Roof Decking

Replacing the roof deck isn’t mandatory every time you consider a full roof replacement. If you notice the following signs, you should consider a roof deck replacement:

1. Extensive Water Damage

If the roof deck exhibits signs of extensive water damage, replacement is strongly recommended. If the roof deck, the foundation of the roof, is already damaged, the chances are it will affect the roofing shingles down the road. Water damage can compromise the structural integrity of the decking, leading to potential issues such as rot, mold growth, and a weakened support system for the new roof.

2. Structural Compromises

Any structural compromises in the roof deck, such as sagging, warping, or significant deterioration, indicate the boards are no longer capable of providing adequate support. In such cases, replacing the roof deck is essential to ensure a solid foundation for the new roofing materials.

Apart from this, the severe structural issues, such as widespread rot or extensive damage caused by pests, warrant a roof deck replacement. Neglecting to address these issues before installing a new roof can lead to further damage and compromise the overall stability of the roofing system.

3. Switching Roofing Materials

Different roofing materials have varying requirements for the type and condition of the roof deck. If you are switching from one type of roofing material to another, for example from asphalt shingles to metal panels, it’s crucial to assess whether the existing deck is suitable. Incompatibility may necessitate replacement to meet the specifications of the new roofing materials.

4. Code Compliance

Local building codes dictate the standards for roof installations. If the existing roof deck does not meet the current building codes, replacement is necessary for compliance. Adhering to these codes ensures that the new roof is installed safely and meets the regulatory requirements of your area.

Also Read: Is Your Roof Decking Up To Code? 

5. Enhancing Energy Efficiency

If you’re considering improvements in energy efficiency, upgrading the roof deck may be part of the strategy. Installing insulation panels or reflective materials during the roof deck replacement can contribute to better energy efficiency, reducing heating and cooling costs in the long run.

How Long Does Roof Decking Last? 

If it remains in good condition, roof decking may have a relatively longer lifespan compared to roofing materials like asphalt shingles. Depending on their types and materials, they can last over 30 years or more. 

1. Plywood Roof Decking

Composed of layers of wood veneer glued together, plywood exhibits exceptional strength and stability. It is a reliable option for various roofing applications. If your current plywood decking is approaching the end of its lifespan, typically 30 to 40 years, replacing it before installing a new roof ensures a solid foundation for the new roofing materials and prevents potential issues such as sagging or compromised structural integrity. However, ensure you have professionals inspect it to make the right decision. 

2. Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

Oriented strand board (OSB), known for its cost-effectiveness, is another common decking material. Composed of compressed and glued wood strands, OSB provides strength and stability. However, it is essential to assess the current condition of your OSB decking, as signs of water damage, delamination, or visible wear can indicate potential issues. If your existing OSB decking has reached its typical lifespan, 20 to 30 years, replacing it before roof installation is advisable to avoid compromising the integrity of the new roofing system.

3. Metal Roof Decking

Metal roof decking, chosen for its strength and durability, often outlasts other materials. Typically made of steel, aluminum, or a combination of both, metal decking offers exceptional resistance to fire and extreme weather conditions. 

If your current metal decking is in good condition and within its expected lifespan, 40 years or more, it may not necessitate replacement. However, you must have your metal decking professionally inspected before coming to a final decision. It is crucial to identify any corrosion or damage that could affect the new roof’s performance. 

4. Concrete Roof Decking

Concrete decking can have an extended lifespan, providing a durable foundation for various roofing materials on low slope roofs. Composed of poured concrete, these roofing decks are capable of bearing heavy weight and can last decades. Whether you need to replace the concrete deck or not can only be determined by professionally assessing its current condition. If it’s in good condition, then there is no need to replace it. 

Final Thoughts

The decision to replace the roof decking before a roof installation depends on various factors, including the unique characteristics of the decking material. While some materials may endure for decades, others may require proactive replacement to ensure a sturdy foundation for the new roof. A thorough assessment of the existing decking’s condition, coupled with careful consideration of the chosen roofing materials, is essential for a successful and long-lasting roofing project. 

Contact Professional Roofers In Tulsa, OK, For Your Roof Inspection

If you are considering a roof replacement but are unsure about if you need a roof deck replacement, contact the expert roofers at A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing in Tulsa, OK. The roofers at the company are educated professionals whom you can trust and rely on. To determine whether you need a roof deck replacement, a thorough analysis and roof inspection is a must. Contact us today at (918) 402-7167 to schedule your roof inspection.


A. Regular inspections are recommended at least once a year, especially after severe weather events. Promptly addressing any issues can prevent extensive damage to the roof decking and the overall roofing system.

A. In some cases, minor repairs may be sufficient to address issues with the roof decking. However, if the damage is extensive or compromises the structural integrity, replacement is often the recommended course of action.