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How Long Does a Roof Overlay Last?

Textured brown shingle roof close-up

If your home requires a new roof, you may not necessarily need to tear off the old roof first. In some cases, it makes more sense to install the new roof on top of the existing roof. But could requesting a roof overlay instead of a full replacement cost you more in the long run? How long does a roof overlay last?

How Long Does a Roof Overlay Last?

When a roof replacement is needed, a roofer typically offers two options: a tear-off or a roof overlay. A full roof replacement will involve tearing off the shingles and other structures and installing new materials. A roof overlay involves placing new shingles and other materials directly over the existing roof, replacing the surface completely but leaving the rest of the roof structure intact.

If you can’t afford a complete roof teardown, there are advantages to going the overlay route. It’s quicker, it’s cheaper, and it’s overall less intensive than a complete roof replacement. However, it might not be worth it if that repair won’t hold up in the long run. So how long does a roof overlay last? It depends.

The Best-Case Scenario

The best-case scenario is that your roof is in excellent condition (other than surface damage) and relatively new in age. If this is the case, the roof overlay should last about 16 years. While this isn’t as long of a lifespan as a new roof, it’s at least in the ballpark. Most roofs last between 15 to 30 years, and factors like bad weather can cut their lifespans significantly either way. However, in many cases, homeowners aren’t dealing with this best-case scenario. If the repair is taking place due to age or extensive damage, you might be redoing that work sooner than you think.

The Worst-Case Scenario

One of the biggest disadvantages of a roof overlay is that the new shingles are placed directly over the old ones. This makes it harder to examine the existing roof, and adds more weight to it as well. An experienced roofer may be able to spot evidence of moisture or other hidden damage before the overlay goes on, but they may not. If those issues aren’t spotted and fixed, moisture damage and other issues can occur. The money you saved on the roof replacement might fly right back out of your pocket if you need to fix a serious leak, and that damage could compel you to replace the roof completely sooner rather than later.

It’s also important to consider the way a roof overlay affects the value of your home. If there are structural flaws, a roof overlay will not hide them, and the appearance of the job might be sloppy as a result. This is a warning for homebuyers that the home has experienced roofing issues. It tells them that the roof will likely need to be entirely replaced at some point after they make their purchase. If you’re planning on selling your home, you may end up cutting the lifespan of your roof overlay short when you realize how much money you stand to lose!


How long does a roof overlay last? It depends what you’re trying to get out of it. Talk to an experienced roofer to get some help making the right call.

Do you need to replace your roof? Whether you need a tear-off or an overlay roof, contact Taylor-Made Roofing if you live in southwest Missouri. With over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial roofing, Taylor-Made Roofing is a company that you can trust with all of your roofing needs. Our family-owned business offers quality services, a reassuring warranty, and free estimates. For more information, please give us a call at 417-326-8778 or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!

Fully licensed and insured, Taylor-Made Roofing is ready to take care of your roof.
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