Roof Tear Off vs Overlay: Which Is Better?

When the holes start appearing and the leak starts getting out of control, you know it’s time to replace your existing roofs. Of course, this is a big topic to cover, but when doing the roof replacement, you have to do it right.

What many people don’t know is you have two options to go when it comes to getting the roof re-done. You can choose to either shingle over your existing roof, or tear-off the original roof, and start over. There are pros and cons to each of the method, in which you’re going to learn in this article.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the roof tear off vs roof overlay, and which method is better for you.

What Does Roof Tear Off Mean?

Roof tear-off is simply the method of complete removal of your old shingles and replacing them with the new one.

It’s a lengthy process and takes a lot of work to complete. By removing the entire shingles, you also have to rip up any old under-layer, flashing or sealing, and toss those away as well.

What Does Roof Overlay Mean?

As the name suggest, roof overlay is the process of overlaying new shingles over the existing ones, keeping the old roofs intact. It is sometimes called as “roof recovery”, as you’re essentially recovering the old shingles using the new ones.

For this method, you essentially don’t have to rip of any under-layer flashing or sealing. Just lay the new set of shingles over the existing ones and you’ll be good to go.

Now you know the definitions of both, let’s explore their pros and cons respectively.

Roof Tear Off

Here are the pros of tear off:


  • Full replacement – As mentioned above in the description, when you opt for roof tear-off, you basically replacing the entire roof with a new one, which has lots of benefits. For example, if your deck is completely rotten or there are lots of underlying problems, then considering replacing with the new ones would be considered as a better option, in terms of quality and cost.
  • A better upgrade – In this method, new shingles, along with other components are also being replaced, so you will end up having a better version of the whole roofing system, with better quality.
  • Longer lifespan – Since a new set of roofing systems, with better quality will be replaced, you can expect your new roof to last longer.
  • Higher value – New roofs can add more value to your property in the long term.

Here are the cons of tear off:


  • More expensive – Replacing your entire system will come with a higher cost. But again, this would depend on your existing roof’s situation. If the roof is damaged so much, then considering replacing it with a new one would be cheaper than replacing them.

Roof Overlay

Here are the pros of roof overlay:


  • Less expensive – Since you’re just replacing the new shingles over the existing ones, the labor cost would be lesser, and makes this method cheaper.
  • Less time spent – Again, since you’re doing a lesser amount of work than the tear-off, you would take less time to complete the overlay.
  • Less risk – In roof overlay, you’re essentially not risking ripping off the entire roofing system, and therefore, the lesser risk involved in actually damaging any sensitive part of your roofs.

Here are the cons of roof overlay:


  • Lesser quality – Roof overlaying will be able to give you just a functional roof, but the roof inspection firm won’t be able to fully examine any hidden roof problems, that could come to bite you in the future.
  • Won’t last long – Lesser quality means lesser lifespan for the roof.
  • May not look good – Since you’re laying shingles over the existing ones, there is a possibility that the old and new roof may not match or problems such as shingles curling or damaged roof part may still persist.
  • Difficult to maintain – If any problems occur in the future, it will make it more difficult to identify things under the old layer like a roof leak or any other hidden problems.
  • Lesser value – If you opt for an overlay, note that it might not be the best decision for your resale value. If you plan on selling your home anytime soon, an overlaid roof can have a negative effect on your resale value.

Tear-Off Vs Overlay: Which One Is Better?

By now, you must have understood the definition, the pros, and cons of each, but which one is better in general. In short, the roof tear-off method is much better compared to overlay. This is because you basically get a better quality, the better value of the roof, and overall, it makes your roof last much longer.

But again, this would differ from case to case. If your roof problem isn’t much significant and you’re in a tight budget, considering the overlaying method might be a better option for you.

We recommend you to contact a roofing professional to perform a complete roof inspection for your roof. We are a premier roofing contractor in Salt Lake City and we can definitely help you out. Feel free to reach out to us here.

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