Of all major home repairs, installing new roofing is arguably one of the most important. You have many things to consider when replacing a roof, but you never want to let an old roof fail; water can destroy the inside of your home, from the attic insulation down through the painstakingly remodeled kitchen, right on through to the basement family room with a big-screen TV. Fewer home problems can be more disastrous than a failed roof.

Roof replacement is not something to take lightly, nor is it a repair you should delay. It’s not too difficult to replace or repair a single shingle, but if one shingle fails, it’s a good idea to have your roof inspected to check the rest of its integrity.

You might also need a permit in your state or locality to repair a roof, depending on the size of the area and the type of repairs. A permit may also be required when reroofing. When you sense that your roof is nearing the end of its useful life, brush up on these basics before soliciting bids from roofing contractors.

The Basic Roofing Materials

Your choice of roof replacement options often depends on your locality and your personal taste. For example, metal roofing is a standard selection in some regions due to its fire resistance. In contrast, the predominant home styles in other areas might call for a Spanish-influenced tile tool. Roof pitch (angle) also affects the roofing materials you can use. For example, wood shake shingles can be used for steeper-pitched roofs but are unsuitable for flatter, low-pitched roofs.

The most common choices for residential roofing include: 

According to the National Association of Home Builders, costlier slate, copper, and tile roofs last more than 50 years. Wood shake roofs endure about 30 years, fiber cement shingles have a life of nearly 25 years, and asphalt shingle composition roofs last about 20 years.

Tear off or Second Layer?

It was once common to lay a new shingle roof over the preexisting layer at least once, or sometimes even twice. This roofing practice is no longer allowed in some jurisdictions, where complete tear-off of the previous roofing is now required. Even where layering is allowed, applying a new layer of shingles over the old should be carefully considered based on its pros and cons: