Recognizing The Right Roofing

Should You Install a Whole New Roof or Simply Recover the Existing One?

When it comes to updating your roof, you have two options. You can tear off the old one and install a whole new one or, as a cheaper choice, you can simply recover the existing roof with another layer of shingles. It isn't always easy to figure out which you should do, so here are three questions that may help you choose.

Is the Roof and Underlying Structures Undamaged?

The condition of your existing roof will play a big role in determining whether you can recover or if you'll have to replace the whole thing. Recovers are best for undamaged roofs or when any existing damage is easily repaired.

It will be a waste of money to recover a roof with significant problems because those headaches will lead to more severe issues down the road if they aren't handled quickly. For instance, a roof suffering from water damage will continue to rot until it crumbles and require you to completely replace the roof.

You should contact a local roofing company and have them do an inspection. If they find there are major problems—such as leaks or termite damage—that can't be repaired easily or will cost an exorbitant amount to fix, it's probably best to replace the roof rather than spend money on a recover.

Does It Meet Current Environmental Regulations?

Roofs typically have a lifespan of 20 to 50 years depending on the type of material used and how well they're maintained. A lot can change in that period of time, particularly when it comes to environmental regulations. Something acceptable when the roof was first installed may not meet current standards.

For instance, asbestos was a common component in roofing materials because it provided great fire protection. Unfortunately, later research found asbestos fibers can cause cancer and other health ailments, and the material was subsequently banned in the late 1980s. So, if the roof was installed prior to this date, you may be required to completely replace it—or at least remove the prohibited shingles—to comply with current laws.

Environmental rules and regulations vary by state and tend to be in response to local concerns. For example, a roof may require extensive fireproofing in areas prone to fires, whereas roofs must be built to resist high winds in areas where tornados are a problem.

A roofing expert can let you know about any required environmental laws that apply to your situation, so it's a good idea to consult with one when you're ready to get work done on your roof. However, you can also find information about environmental laws as they pertain to roofs online at federal or local environmental protection sites.

Has It Been Recovered Previously?

Many states restrict the number of times a roof can be recovered before it must be replaced. The International Building Code requires a roof to be replaced if it already has two or more layers of shingles, meaning you won't be able to do another recover if the roof has already undergone one previously.

Additionally, due to the type of material used on the first installation, you may be prohibited from doing a recover even if the roof never had one before. For instance, roofs placed on wood shake, clay, or slate systems must be removed and replaced.

Sometimes you may be able to get around these rules. The local government may give a bit more leeway to historical buildings, for example. Generally, though, you will be required to follow the law. The good thing is, your roof will be built up to current code, which will prevent this type of problem from rearing its head again down the road.

For more information about replacing or recovering your roof, contact a local roofing professional.