Shingle Roofing Replacement: Tear-Off vs. Adding a Top Layer

Shingle Roofing Replacement: Tear-Off vs. Adding a Top Layer

There comes a time when roofing repairs just won’t do anymore – your roof sustains extensive damage, whether through a storm or just over time, and your local roofing contractor recommends installing a new shingle roof rather than repairing the damage.

Once you decide on replacing your roof, there are further decisions you will have to make. One of the more critical ones is whether to tear off the old shingles or simply add a top layer of new shingles to the existing roof.

Shingle Roofing Replacement: Tear-Off vs. Adding a Top Layer

The Case Behind An Overlay

Adding a top layer of shingles to the existing structure may sound like “quick fix,” but in certain situations, it is a safe and widely used technique for replacing a worn roof. Check building codes in your city – most allow it once (never lay a roof over a roof over a roof).

Called an “overlay,” this roofing method can save time and money without compromising the integrity of the roof. The cost of doing a tear can substantially increase the cost of re-roofing, so if you can avoid it that’s great for your wallet. An overlay is your best bet assuming the wood decking is in good condition, and especially if you’re planning to sell your home soon.

The Case Behind a Tear Off

Re-roofing from the bottom up, or tearing off the current roof, can be more costly and labor-intensive than an overlay, but it’s often necessary, and, in some areas of the country, required.

Often, homeowners must undergo a tear-off versus adding a top layer of shingles if the current roof meets certain conditions:

  • Two layers of shingles, slate, tiles or shakes already exist on the roof
  • The roof is soaked from water damage
  • Wood decking needs repairs or replacement
  • The roof consists of asbestos/cement tile, wood shakes, slate or clay materials

Tearing the old materials off provides your roofer with an opportunity to look at any issues that might be creeping up underneath the existing roof. Additionally, an overlay cuts the life expectancy of the second layers of shingles in half, so if you want your new roof to last longer removing the old roofing materials is recommended.

Consider All Options When Having A New Roof Installed

Your roofing contractor should be aware of state and local regulations and requirements regarding roofing and upon inspection of your home, will be able to tell you with certainty whether you are looking at a total roof replacement or if the possibility of an overlay exists. Since a new roof can be a costly investment, all options should be considered.

If you need an inspection, or you’re considering installing a new roof and are not sure which way you should go, call All Roofing Solutions, an experienced residential roofing company serving Delaware & Pennsylvania customers since 1998. We will provide you with several new roof installation options that best suit your taste, needs, and budget.

Call today at 302-725-ROOF (7663) in Delaware or 610-551-ROOF (7663) in Pennsylvania to request your Free Estimate or to learn more about our roofing, siding, door installation, gutter repair and window replacement services!


  1. Posted April 16, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I have seen many overlays fail here in Denver. Some of the municipalities have been requiring all re roofs to go down to bare wood. Great article.

    • Posted April 17, 2016 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      Yes, we rarely do them in Delaware as well. Possible decking damage itself is too big of a deterrent.

  2. Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    This is a great article when trying to decipher which way to go. We have an alliance of roofers in Folsom whom all come together and we just had this discussion of when is a right time to lay over. Seems like most people where we’re from overlook maintenance on their roofs and it ends up being to late for them.

  3. Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Interesting debate. We often offer the overlay option to our customers who it would be practical solution for, purely to save them money. However, most go for a tear off for peace of mind. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Posted August 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. Great breakdown between the two options and I’m sure very helpful to those questioning which way to go. We strongly encourage our customers against adding a top layer over an existing roof. Although an overlay can seem to be the quicker, more cost efficient way to go, you’re usually just delaying the problem and will endure a higher cost down the road.

  5. Posted August 26, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Great article. I always advise my clients to strip off the old shingles, its may cost more up front but it will save you in the long run.

  6. Posted September 18, 2016 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Great information. I almost always suggest a complete tear-off so that we can inspect the roof decking thoroughly and can provide the best quality roof to our customers. I can understand why people would want to go with an overlay for cost and time reasons, but they never seem to last very long.

  7. Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    What a great article. It is very informative. We do offer both, but do recommend the complete tear off to the customer so that they can save money in the long run and not have to replace the roof in the shorter amount of time.

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