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What Is Roof Overlay And Is It Right for You?

Posted on June 22, 2024

roof overlay

Roof replacement or new roof installation is a significant investment, often ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 or more. This high price is sometimes a setback for homeowners tight on budget or looking for quick fixes. Therefore, homeowners look for alternative roofing methods that don’t outweigh their budget. One of the roofing methods that homeowners come to choose is called a roof overlay, which means installing a layer of new shingles over old/existing shingles. 

Though this alternative roofing method can be okay for certain cases, it should never be a go-to choice. In this blog post, we will explain roof overlays and guide you on whether they are the right choice for you. Stay with us until the end to choose the right pick. 

Understanding What A Roof Overlay Is In Depth

Roof Overlay
Roof Overlay

As the name implies, a roof overlay is the process of adding a second layer of shingles on top of existing shingles or other roofing material. This process is an alternative roof replacement option that can be done without requiring the pre-existing layer of shingles to be torn off, therefore saving homeowners time, money, and effort. 

If you are looking for a cost-effective and budget-friendly method for roof renovation, a roof overlay can be a tempting option. But is it right for you? Keep reading to find out in the following sections. 

The Lifespan Of A Second Layer Of Shingles

When considering a roof overlay, one of the first questions that comes up is how long the new roofing system will last with the second layer of shingles. After all, no one wants to invest in a solution that will need to be replaced again in a few short years. While the lifespan can vary depending on factors like climate and installation quality, generally, a second layer of shingles will have a shorter lifespan compared to the lifespan of a new asphalt shingle roof that was installed over a new roof deck. This is due to factors such as increased weight on the roof structure and potential heat retention, which can accelerate the aging process of the shingles.

The Cost Of Installing Shingles Over An Existing Roof

The cost is often a significant factor in any home improvement decision, and roof overlay is no exception. While the initial cost of overlaying shingles over an existing roof may be lower than a full replacement, it’s important to consider the long-term implications. The cost of a roof overlay varies depending on factors such as the size of your roof, the type of shingles used, and any additional repairs or preparation work needed. 

Additionally, while it may seem like a cost-effective solution in the short term, you must consider its drawbacks and future concerns. Because a second layer of shingles can add extra weight to your roof, potentially leading to structural issues down the line.

Related: The Cost Breakdown Of Asphalt Shingles In 2024

Pros And Cons Of A Roof Overlay Over Existing Shingles


1. A Budget-Friendly Alternative Option

The top reason homeowners choose a roof overlay is its low installation cost. Adding a layer of new shingles may potentially save you on shingle tear-off and disposal, requiring you only to buy new shingles. Additionally, roof tear-offs are a labor-intensive and costly process, which a roof overlay eliminates, therefore saving you on labor costs.  

2. A Time-Saving Solution

Another benefit of roof overlay is the time it saves. Tear-off and replacement projects can take several days to complete, causing disruptions to your daily life. However, with a roof overlay, the installation process is generally quicker, meaning you’ll spend less time waiting for the work to be done and more time enjoying your newly refreshed roof.


1. Shortened Roof Lifespan

Roof replacement is a long-term investment. If you are considering roof overlay, it will be less expensive at first, but you may need to spend more money on a new roof in a couple of years. The lifespan of the second layer of shingles isn’t equal to that of a newly installed roof. Also, installing a new layer of shingles may bury underlying damages, which could be repaired if you opt for tear-off prior to your roof replacement. Without an intervention the underlying damage may eat your roof away from within, resulting in a shortened roof lifespan. 

2. Void Roof Warranties

If your roof is under warranties, the chances are that opting for a roof overlay may void them completely. Roof warranties are super important, as they can save you money when it comes to accidental damage to certain roofing materials. However, many companies view roof overlays as harmful to their products and therefore do not provide warranty coverage for damage done to shingles used in a roof overlay process. 

3. Increased Weight

Adding a second layer of shingles means adding extra weight to your roof. This can be a concern, especially if your home’s structure isn’t designed to support additional weight. Over time, this added weight can lead to structural damage, potentially resulting in costly repairs.

Is A Metal Roof Overlay Possible?

While installing metal roofs over old asphalt shingles is possible, expert roofers at B&A Roofing in Mississippi don’t support this action. 

Since there are high chances of damage persisting underneath the shingles, which can deteriorate your roof completely, before you make your choice, consider the pros and cons of both options responsibly.

Should You Choose A Roof Overlay?

Roof Overlay
Roof Overlay

Below are some conditions that make roofing over existing shingles a more reasonable option rather than complete roof replacement. Look into each to make the best decision for you. 

1. If Budget And Time Are Concerns 

Since it requires less labor and materials, an overlay can be significantly cheaper than a full roof replacement. If your roof is nearing the end of its life but hasn’t experienced significant damage, an overlay can extend its lifespan a little without breaking the bank.

Moreover, if you’re pressed for time and need your roof fixed quickly, an overlay can be completed much faster than a full replacement. So, for these valid reasons, a roof overlay is applicable and won’t do any harm. 

2. Minimal Underlying Damages

A roof overlay is also suitable if your existing roof is in relatively good condition with no significant underlying damage. If the roof deck is intact and the old shingles are lying flat (without curling or significant wear), adding a new layer can be an effective solution. However, if there are leaks, rot, or extensive damage to the underlying structure, a full replacement is necessary.

The Reasons To Avoid A Roof Overlay

1. Difficulty in Future Repairs

If you encounter issues with your roof after an overlay, repairing it can be more challenging and expensive. Roofing over existing shingles makes it harder to pinpoint the source of leaks or other problems, and the added layers complicate the repair process. In contrast, a single layer of shingles is easier to inspect and repair, ensuring any issues are promptly addressed.

2. Potential for Leaks

When you add a second layer of shingles, you increase the potential for leaks. The old shingles can create gaps and uneven surfaces where water can seep through. This is particularly problematic if the existing shingles are already damaged, or if the roof deck has issues that aren’t addressed. Over time, these leaks can cause significant water damage, leading to expensive repairs or a total replacement. 

Deciding Between A Roof Overlay vs. Tear-Off

When weighing the options on a roof overlay vs tear-off, it’s essential to consider your long-term goals for your home. While a roof overlay may seem like a quick and cost-effective solution in the short term, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks, such as a shorter lifespan and increased risk of underlying issues. A full tear-off and replacement, while initially more expensive, can offer greater peace of mind and longevity in the long run, therefore saving you money and effort in the long run. 

Contact The Expert Roofers In Hattiesburg, MS, For Your Roof Replacement

Now that you know the drawbacks of roof overlay or installing shingles over an old roof, you can make the right decision. If you need help deciding which direction to take, the roofers at B&A Roofing can help. We will thoroughly inspect your roof and provide unbiased information and potential solutions that we can provide. 
So, if you choose a total roof replacement, you can feel confident that your project is in the hands of certified professionals who have effectively installed hundreds of roofs in Mississippi. We can replace your roof in no time, ensuring your roof stays functional and appealing for years to come. Contact us today at (601) 520-3183 to speak with one of our professional roofers.

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