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Roof Overlay vs. Tear-Off: Which Is Better?

Posted on March 13, 2024

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Roof Overlay vs. Tear-Off: Which Is Better?

Homeowners often face a dilemma when it comes to a roof replacement: should they go for a roof overlay or a roof tear-off? These two methods have been in practice for a long time, and the final decision depends on various factors, such as the homeowner’s needs, budget, and the roof’s condition. 

In this blog post, we will delve into the topic of roof overlay vs. tear-off to help you make an informed decision. We will discuss whether you should put a new roof over an old one or tear-off the existing materials. Additionally, we will outline the pros and cons of each method so that you can choose the best option for your home. Keep reading through the end to get a better understanding of the topic.

The Differences Between Roof Overlay & Tear-off

Though roof tear-off is the most common method homeowners opt for, roof overlay is also in practice for many reasons. Both roof replacement methods have their own advantages and challenges. 

But what is a roof tear-off exactly? As the name suggests, roof tear-off involves tearing off the existing roof before installing a new one. In this method, all the roofing materials are replaced with new to give your home a fresh and aesthetically pleasing look. However, going this route involves more time and money that homeowners can avert by choosing roof overlay. 

Roof overlay, on the other hand, is affordable and requires less time because the old roof is kept in place. The new shingles are simply installed over top, adding another layer of protection. It can save you on labor costs for tearing off the shingles and transporting them to landfills or recycling centers. Roof overlay, or roofing over existing roofs, gives homeowners a fresh look even under budget constraints. Though not as effective as a roof tear-off, this alternative replacement method gives instant results in terms of durability and prevention of roof leaks. 

Pros And Cons of Roof Overlay/Roof Layover

Roof Overlay

While this method may seem like the perfect solution to many homeowners, it’s important to fully understand what it entails before making a decision. 


1. Affordable 

Roof overlay, or installing shingles over old roofs, prevents the costly roof tear-off and the associated labor charges. It involves installing new shingles over the old without having them removed. Also, it masks the existing damages or leaks that could have involved costly repairs otherwise. 

2. Time-Saving

Roof overlay is quicker as the roofers go on installing new shingles without spending time removing existing materials and laying underlayments. Some homeowners who want to achieve a new look and add durability to the roof before intense weather events opt for a roof layover as a quick fix. 

3. Elevate Your Home’s Curb Appeal

If your goal is to elevate your home’s curb appeal, then adding one layer of shingles to an existing roof is acceptable in some areas. However, it is important to note that adding more layers on top eventually leads to a more disturbed curb appeal and often results in structural damage. 


1. Mask Underlying Damages

Because of the nature of this job, roof overlay masks any underlying damages. The layer of shingles installed on top can hide potential leaks and unnoticed roof damage. Additionally, moisture can be trapped between the layers of shingles, which may lead to moss and algae growth.  On the other hand, a successful roof replacement requires a thorough inspection that can unmask the hidden damages and help strategize suitable solutions. 

2. Reduce The Overall Home’s Value 

Though roof overlay can attract new buyers, it can potentially reduce the home’s resale value. The reason? The probability of hidden damages under the seemingly new roof can be a red flag for potential buyers. This is because it means they might have to pay for a premature roof replacement or repairs soon after buying the home. 

3. Adds Weight To The Existing Roof 

With installing new shingles over an old roof comes the fear of potential structural damage. The added weight of shingles over an old roof can hurt its integrity, leading to a structural catastrophe. Though roof overlay may sound inexpensive initially, it can cause you to pay more for extensive repairs down the road. This is one reason why roof overlay isn’t recommended on old homes. 

Pros and Cons of Roof Tear-Off

Roof Tear-Off

In the above section, we have discussed what a roof tear-off is. Roof tear-off is the most recommended route for a roof replacement. Though more costly upfront, it offers a wide range of benefits to homeowners. 


1. Provide A New Fresh Look

If you want a new look and aesthetically pleasing home for years to come, then roof tear-off is the route for you. By removing the old, discolored shingles and disposing of them, roof tear-off gives your roof a fresh start. It creates a lasting impression and remains durable for years. Though this way is a costly investment upfront, it is worth the effort. 

 2. Increase Home’s Resale Value 

In contrast to roof overlay, roof tear-off increases your home’s resale value. If prospective buyers know you have installed a new roof, it may encourage them to buy your home. Also, a newly installed roof is free from all the damage that an overlaid roof may have – a plus point for home buyers. So, roof tear-off gives peace of mind to homeowners as well as the potential buyers. 

3. Reinforce The Roof’s Durability, Longevity, & Effectiveness

Roofing materials come with an expected lifespan and durability. So, if you are replacing your roof instead of just laying shingles on top of old ones, you can get the benefits of new roofing materials – increased durability, longevity, effectiveness, and energy efficiency. 

4. Repair Existing Damage

With a roof tear-off, there is no fear of water leaks and unnoticed damages – at least until the roof begins to reach its expected lifespan. Before installing new shingles, you can inspect your roof thoroughly and repair any existing problems. This allows you to prevent potential damages before they escalate into a bigger issue. 


1. Costly Upfront 

This is one of the reasons many homeowners opt for roof overlay. Installing a new roof can cost you thousands of dollars upfront, which may include labor and materials costs and repairing any pre-existing damage. This also includes the cost of old shingle removal and their disposal. 

Which Way You Should Go: Roof Overlay vs. Tear-Off?

Now, which should you choose: roof tear-off or roof overlay? As you have seen, both methods have unique advantages and challenges, so it is essential to factor in each based on your roofing needs. The following factors can help you decide between roof overlay or tear-off. 

1. Assess The Present Condition of Your Roof

If your old roof is structurally sound and can bear the added weight of new shingles, roof overlay might work. However, it is essential to inspect your roof for damage. Leaving anything unnoticed can result in further damages in the long run. Track roof leaks and seal any portion with damage. 

2. Consider Your Budget

Roof replacement is an extensive project involving many factors, of which budget is the most important. However, whether you go for roof tear-off or roof overlay, you must consider a roof replacement estimate. As roof overlay can be inexpensive upfront, it may involve additional costs later. On the other hand, installing a new roof can be costly upfront, but it may benefit you for years. 

Contact A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing In Tulsa, OK, For Your Roof Replacement

Now that you know the pros and cons of roof overlay and tear-off and the factors that can impact your budget in the long run, you can make a final decision. At A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing, we always recommend a roof tear-off or complete roof replacement, as it can benefit you in the long run. Contact us today at (918) 402-7167 and consult a professional for your roofing needs.