Roof Tear Off Vs. Roof Overlay Explained

When you are in the market for a new shingle roof, you typically have two options:

  1. Tear off your existing roof (recommended)
  2. Re-roof over your existing shingles and add a second layer. This is also referred to as a roof overlay or layover.

What is A Roof Tear Off?

A roof tear off is the process of removing the existing shingles on a home prior to installing a new roof. A roof tear off is almost always recommended when having a new roof installed and for good reason! Read on to find out why.

What Is A Roof Overlay?

A roof overlay or layover is when a roofing contractor installs a second layer of shingles over your existing roof. Although a more affordable option, it is rarely ever recommended.

So why is a complete roof tear off the best option?

Roof Tear Off vs. Overlay Pros & Cons

Bad Wood

By tearing off your existing shingles your roofing contractor is able to find and replace bad wood caused by water damage and other factors. This is an important step to ensure you have a healthy roof for many years to come. If you choose a roof overlay, there’s a good chance rotten wood, water damage, and other issues will be missed, leading to future roof damages needing repairs.


Adding a second layer of shingles compromises a roofer’s ability to fully spot and repair flashing issues that may exist.Flashing refers to the metal seal around chimneys, vents, skylights and other features on your roof to help deter water from seeping into your home and attic. When these areas aren’t sealed fully they lead to roof leaks and wood rot.

chimney flashing


A roof tear off is more costly upfront as it adds additional labor to the roofing process, however, overtime this cost easily pays for itself. Additionally, the tear off process is included in the estimate for your new roof. A roof replacement can be one of the biggest investments you will make to your home, it’s worth doing right the first time!


When overlaying shingles you are adding a whole lot of extra, unnecessary weight to your home. This is especially a concern when you are living in an older, poorly constructed home. For homeowners in the Akron and Cleveland OH area this becomes even more problematic when a bad rain, wind or snow storm blows in and adds more weight and stress to your roof, increasing the chances of your roof caving in or leaking.

Roof Lifespan

A new roof and tear off should last between 20-30 years when using a quality roofing contractor and shingle. If you choose to overlay your shingles, you are decreasing your roof’s lifespan considerably.

Heat & Ventilation

Adding a second layer of shingles “cooks” or “bakes” the shingles due to increased heat and ventilation issues. A complete tear off will allow the new shingles to breathe and get proper ventilation.


Shingle warranties are not valid per manufacturers when installing a roof overlay. This in itself helps explain how often issues arise after an overlay has been installed and why they typically aren’t recommended.

Resale Value

An overlay will decrease your home’s resale value as homeowners, realtors and inspectors are usually aware the life expectancy of an overlay is less than a complete tear off. Often times homeowners install an overlay as a quick fix and to cover up existing roof damages which can be a red flag as well. Bonus Tip: Always have your roof inspected by a professional during the buying process!

Tear Off vs. Overlay Comparison Chart


If you still aren’t sold on a roof tear off – contact a local roofer and have them come out and inspect your roof and get a professional opinion! Craig Roofing provides free inspections and estimates for the Akron & Cleveland area so take advantage and reach out today. Major home repairs are stressful as a homeowner, but our personal project managers will be ready to answer all of your questions along the way! Give our team a call at (330) 808-0477 or Request a Free Quote Today!