What is the difference between re-roof and new roof?

Homeowners know that keeping your roof in good shape is critical to both the safety and value of your home. When it comes to assessing your need for a new roof it is important to know if you should re-roof it or replace it.

Your roof is one of the biggest investments you can make in your home and if you do it correctly it will provide one of the biggest returns on your investment. Many real estate agents credit roof restorations to quick sales and some reports indicate that a new roof can bring in 80% of its cost.  The fact is if your roof needs replacement, this is not something to put off and can be a value-add to your home in the long term.

The roof’s age or damage is a big factor in your roofing decision. So, what does re-roofing mean? And how do you know if that’s the best option as opposed to just replacing your existing roof? 

What does re-roofing mean?

Re-roofing is the process of layering new shingles on top of already existing ones and can only be done once, meaning this is not an option for homes with more than one layer of roofing. Re-roofing is a great option if overall your roof is in good shape and does have any missing or soggy shingles or major water damage. Re-roofing is best when done on your entire roof, it is not advisable to re-roof only a small portion of your roof. If you discover sagging or rotting beneath your shingles, re-roofing is not an option and you will have to move on to a replacement. 

Generally speaking, re-roofing is less expensive than a new roof. However, it is not ideal in all circumstances, and the material of your roof, how many stories you have, its pitch and the age of your home and current roof should all be taken into consideration. If you determine re-roofing is not an option, then your next choice is a complete roof replacement.

What does roof replacement mean?

Roof replacement is an option at any time but is particularly important when you are having issues with your roof deck. Re-roofing can provide some cost savings, but if you are dealing with a roof that is sagging or in danger of collapse, roof replacement is your only option. You can address all issues with your roof with a replacement, as opposed to just covering it up with a re-roof.

What Does Re-Roofing Entail?

Re-roofing is the cheapest and fastest option when it comes to improving your roof appearance.

When re-roofing is complete, the new shingles that are overlaid onto your original roof will restore the look of your roof and will also provide a new, protective barrier to keep out leaks.

Again, it’s important to reiterate that you must have only one layer of shingles on your roof in order to proceed with re-roofing. Many building codes prohibit the installation of a third layer on shingles.

There are several pros and cons of re-roofing including:


  • Re-roofing is the cheaper option when repairing your roof as it does not require extensive labor, materials or time.
  • Re-roofing is the fastest option as you do not have to replace your entire roof.


  • In many areas you are prohibited from adding a third layer of shingles to a roof that already has two existing layers.
  • Re-roofing has a shorter effective lifespan than replacing your roof entirely.
  • Re-roofing is not recommended for existing metal roofs.
  • You have a limited ability to assess damage to your roof because re-roofing does not require you to pull up the original shingles. Re-roofing will not fix any major issues like rotting, sagging or water damage and will only cover up the underlying problem.

What Does Roof Replacement Entail?

To fully replace your roof all the old shingles are removed to expose the underlying deck. A new layer of felt paper or underlayment is then applied to the deck to help protect it from water damage and other elements. Finally, a layer of new shingles is installed, and your new roof is finished and will last for approximately 20 years or more. 

You must assess the deck for severe damage. If it is not repaired to prevent further damage or it will eventually cause a hole.

There are several pros and cons of roof replacement including:


Compared to re-roofing, replacing your roof last significantly longer

Roof replacement can be done regardless of the number of layers on your existing roof.

Replacing your roof address all underlying issues lot rot or water damage, unlike re=roofing that may just cover up issues with the deck and lead to eventual roof collapse.

Replacing your roof can be a cost saving in the long run by identifying early signs of damage or rot. If those issues fester without repair, they can cause leads inside the walls of your home leading to floor and drywall damage and costly repairs.


Roof replacement is most costly than re-roofing because of the increase in time, materials, and labor required.

Re-Roofing Cost and Cost to Replace Roof

Re-roofing costs vary based on materials, labor, job size, and where you live. If you require special equipment, such as roof jacks, it will also affect your cost.

Roof replacement cost can be higher depending on the slope or number of stories you have. For example, a two-story house with steep slope requires more labor and time than a single-story home. 

Material costs can vary greatly. Asphalt shingles are inexpensive and easy to use, lowering the cost of your project. However, a material like metal will cost more for materials and may require specialty service, which can increase the price of your project.

Deciding Between Re-Roofing and Fully Replacing the Roof

If your roof has reached the end of its lifespan, you only have one layer of shingles, and you experience minor issues or leaks, re-roofing may be best the choice for you. It’s important to note that if you are only trying to repair one section of your roof, re-roofing may cause it to be uneven which will be noticeable.

If you have major damage to your roof deck, rot, sagging or water damage it is likely you will need a complete roof replacement. A new roof is also a great option for homeowners looking for peace of mind knowing your deck is brand new and protecting your home and family.