Your roof protects you from the elements, keeping you warm and dry through every season. The exact lifespan of your roof can vary based on its materials, your environment, and the regular maintenance that you perform, but no roof is indestructible. It will eventually need repair or replacement, whether it’s from a fallen tree or storm damage.
Many homeowners wonder if you can make do with partial roof replacements, as opposed to complete roof installation. Can you replace only half a roof? Read on to learn more.
Why You Should Not Replace Half Your Roof
When half or more of your roof is damaged, it can be tempting to just replace the damaged half to save yourself money and time. However, most professional roofing contractors do not recommend replacing only half of your roof.
Maybe the most outwardly obvious reason, replacing just half a roof can be difficult in terms of aesthetics. Even if you can match with the exact same architectural shingles and roofing materials, half of the roof will just look noticeably older, faded, and worn out, while the other half will look new and clean. Ultimately, your roof just won’t look right.
Even if you are not worried about the look, design, or aesthetics of your home, the fact is that roofs are not as simple as you think. Most roofs are not logistically designed to be split in half. Trying to do so may create seams that can easily lead to a leaky roof or cause structural issues that could contribute to more significant, costly damage in the future.
Furthermore, depending on the age, your roof may be too brittle or worn down to withstand a partial replacement. Your contractor may discover rotting wood in the roof’s structure, which would require replacing the roof entirely. You may end up causing even more damage to your roof that can create costly problems.
You essentially have to think of your roof as a whole. Trying to replace portions or piece things together, particularly at the root or foundational point, may just result in creating more points of failure upon or post-installation. Most professional roofing contractors will not do half-roof replacements knowing that tying together two different sections is difficult and often ineffectual.
An Uneven Lifecycle
Even if you did go through with replacing half your roof, you and your home would be stuck with two halves of a roof with different lifespans. That means that the older half would require repair and replacement sooner than the newer half, creating an endless cycle of uneven repairs and replacements from wear and tear.
More Costly Than You Think
You might think that you’re saving money by only replacing half your roof. In reality, you are likely paying more in cost-per-square-foot as you still have to pay for the roofing crew (their travel, equipment, materials, and labor).
Furthermore, while that initial cost may be lower, you may be costing yourself more in the long-term. The uneven life cycles would mean more frequent half-roof repairs, while the potential for leaks, drafts, and other smaller issues increases your utility bills and energy expenditure. Essentially, it may be more worth it to spend more initially to ultimately save more in the long run.
The problem here often comes with insurance companies, who may not pay for a full roof repair and replacement. This means paying for much of the roof installation out of pocket. If this does happen, have your insurer talk to your roofer or contractor to potentially bring those out-of-pocket costs down.
When You Can Replace Part of Your Roof
While partially replacing a roof is not recommended, there are some situations where replacing parts and pieces of your roof is acceptable and necessary.
If you notice some damage to less than half of your roof, you may consider patching up the damage in that specific area. Of course, you should always talk to your roofer and have them perform a thorough inspection to determine the best course of action. What may seem like a small patch job may require more extensive repairs, especially if the professional notices any water damage or water leaking into the attic. There are among the many questions to ask a roofer when uncertain.
However, if they don’t detect any water damage, your roof may be fine with just a simple patch job. It can still be difficult to match the color of your roof and shingles, making patches noticeable, but they are still effective and more affordable than replacing an entire roof.
Replacing Individual Architectural Shingles
It’s not uncommon to lose some shingles due to high winds and heavy storms. Shingles that are missing, worn out, or damaged generally are not a cause for concern, but you should still contact a professional roofer to determine if there is any damage to the underlayment and roof decking.
New shingles can be easily slotted where damaged or missing shingles once were. Remember that finding identical shingles can be difficult. You may notice new shingles, but they can easily extend the life of your roof at an affordable price.
If you do notice missing or damaged shingles, make sure you contact your roofer as soon as possible. The longer they are missing, the higher the chance of roof leaks in heavy rain and more significant damage to your home.
Your Roof Replacement Options
If your roofer does think that you need a whole roof replacement, you have a couple of options to choose from.
A Second Layer
An overlay or second layer is exactly what you think it is. It simply involves adding a new set of shingles over the existing layer. This is assuming that there is no structural damage to the roof.
An overlay is more affordable and requires less labor than a full roof replacement, but it can come with some drawbacks. An overlay simply won’t last as long. The added layer traps extra heat, which contributes to curling and faster wear and tear with each shingle. Adding that extra layer of shingles also makes it hard to locate or identify future issues, like leaks or rotting in the deck.
Eventually, you’ll have to replace your roof, and having a second layer of shingles can make that process more time-consuming and more costly, on top of the added waste. This is another short-term solution that could cost you in the long run.
Depending on the age of your home and the roof foundations, adding a second layer may not be possible because of all the added weight. You are essentially adding a second roof to your existing roof. That weight can harm the structural integrity of your roof.
Still, if your roof can handle it and you do need a solution for a fairly substantial roofing problem, adding an overlay cover may be your best option.
The option recommended by most roofers and contractors, a tear-off is a complete replacement. That means new shingles, deck, flashings, and underlayment and replacements for any damaged or rotten structures. The main drawback to this is the upfront price. Replacing a whole roof will cost you, so talk with your insurer. Many roofing companies also offer financing options.
Aside from the price, a full tear-off replacement is the way to go. You end up with a high-quality roof with a renewed lifespan, meaning it will just last you that much longer. While the upfront costs are high, a new roof increases your home’s resale value.
Can you only replace half a roof? Theoretically, yes, but most experts will recommend against it. If any part of your roof is damaged, contact a roofer or contractor immediately to determine your options and next steps.