Is a Complete Tear-Off Necessary When Getting a New Roof?

What is the Difference Between a Tear-Off and an Overlay?

A tear-off is when the roofing contractor will remove and dispose of the existing shingles, inspect the decking underneath, repair any damage, and then install new shingles. An overlay involves installing a second layer of shingles over the existing roof without taking the existing roof down to the decking and inspecting it for damage.

Brick cape cod home on a sunny summer day.

Benefits of a Tear-Off

A tear-off means that your new roof will be new in every way. All issues will be addressed. Your new roof will be a better quality than your old roof. This also means that your new roof will last much longer than an overlay will. A new roof will trap less heat, and extra heat can cause shingles to curl and break down. An overlay will also cost more to replace in the future, since you will have double the shingles to tear-off. An overlay may save you money in the short-term, but in the long-run, a tear-off is a much better investment.

When is an Overlay Possible?

The best case – and really only time – when an overlay is recommended is when you know that the decking is sound. No previous leaks, existing leaks, and no side walls that need flashing to tie in the roofing materials to the exterior walls. You should also not live in an area at risk for heavy snow accumulation. The weight of two layers of shingles plus a layer of snow can be too much for the structure of your home.

What are the Drawbacks to an Overlay?

The drawbacks to an overlay are numerous. First, you will not be able to inspect for damage. If there are any issues, you will not be able to address them. Second, adding a second layer of shingles is a difficult installation. Flashing may be compromised. In addition, the installation often won’t look right. Installing a second layer as your new roof may make the roof appear uneven. Finally, installing an overlay can compromise the structure of your home and might void your warranty.

Let Your Contractor Be Your Guide

The savings of an overlay can be about 25% over the cost of a tear-off and new roof installation. This may not be an insignificant amount. However, a good roofing contractor will nearly always suggest a tear-off instead of an overlay. Your contractor knows that a new roof is expensive, but they also understand the importance of doing the job correctly. You don’t want to cut corners when you are replacing the most important component of your home, especially when it is such a big investment.

When you find a quality roofing contractor you trust, you can have an honest conversation about your options. If your roofing contractor recommends a tear-off, they aren’t trying to rip you off. Most likely, they know that it is the better choice for your home, will ensure that the work is done well, and will leave the job knowing that they have done the best job to protect you and your family. Armorvue Home Exteriors has been installing roofs in this community for decades, and we’ll guide you through your options with integrity. Contact us today for a virtual appointment to talk about your options for a new roof.


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