Repair It or Replace It? How to Decide What to Do With Your Damaged Roof

With winter weather comes winter storms. That also means winter storm damages, which exceeded $2 billion in 2016 alone. As many unfortunate homeowners discover, roofs account for a lot of that damage.

You’re faced with a choice once you discover your damaged roof. One option is for you to get the damage repaired. The other option is a roof replacement.

It’s not always a clear choice, either. Some people believe any roof damage demands a total replacement and others view repair as the right option.

If your roof got damaged, keep reading. We’ll offer you a guide for deciding between repair and replacement.


Finances always play a role in the decision between repair and replacement.

The average replacement cost runs around $7500. If you’re barely scraping by with nearly maxed out credit cards, a roof replacement is probably out of the question.

It’s not a question of whether or not you want the replacement. It’s just not realistic without jeopardizing your financial situation.

The average cost of a repair is around $800. That might also prove a stretch, but it’s a lot more manageable than thousands of dollars.

For someone in a good financial situation, you can weigh your options based on other factors that we’ll cover below.

Extent of Damage

Any damage on your roof is potentially hazardous. You can read more about those hazards on this website. That said, the extent of the damage can inform your choice.

Comparatively minor damage to a small portion of the roof may only need repair. Let’s say you find some exposed plywood on the roof from a fallen limb.

The underlying structure and strength of the roof remain intact. That means a good roofing contractor can probably fix the problem without a full replacement.

Let’s say a larger fallen limb punches a five-foot-long hole straight through your roof.  In that case, the hole compromises the underlying structure and strength of the roof. At a minimum, you’ll need a partial roof replacement just to repair the wood underneath.

Expert Recommendations

Unless you work as a contractor or roofer, it’s always a good idea to get opinions and estimates from experts. If you’ve worked with a contractor you like, start with them.

An expert can tell you exactly what kind of damage you’re really looking at with your roof. They can also give you a sense of how well a repair will hold up.

The estimates they give also tell you what the local going rate is for repairs and replacements. Roof replacement costs in rural New York, for example, will prove much lower than roof replacement costs in Manhattan.

In most cases, shingles include a guarantee from the manufacturer. The catch is that the guarantee only applies when licensed professionals do the installation.

If you’re concerned about selling the house down the road, you should give serious consideration to hiring a contractor for any roof work. DIY roofing installations can drag down the value of your house because they aren’t guaranteed.

Roof Age

You must also consider your roof age when choosing between a replacement or a repair.

A standard roof will last approximately two decades. If you replaced the roof 5 or 10 years ago, a repair can make sense. The rest of the roof still has a lot of working life left in it.

If your roof is more than 15 years old, it’s already closing in on its replacement age. It can make more sense to replace the entire roof at that point.

If you plan on selling sometime in the next few years, a fairly new roof serves as a selling point. If you plan on living there for the foreseeable future, it’s one less thing for you to worry about as time goes by.

Either way, it’s a good investment.

What’s Your Time Frame?

Really solid contractors get booked up fast. You may discover that you must wait a couple months before they can take on a full roof replacement.

If the weather is already bad, getting worse, or you travel frequently, that’s an unworkable situation. Roof repairs typically go faster, so you can book someone for that job sooner.

A repair acts as insurance against additional damage to the inside of your home. It also buys you the time to schedule a full-on replacement at a time that works better for you.

A replacement is the better option if your schedule can allow for the wait. If you live a dry climate and you’re in the dry season, a temporary covering can protect the damaged part of the roof. It’ll also keep out insects and small animals.

Then, a month or two later, the contractor can come in and do the whole replacement.

Update Style

A damaged roof can also serve as an opportunity.

Let’s say that you’ve been considering some renovations to update the exterior look and feel of your house. At some point, the roof will need an update to better fit with any renovations.

You can select shingles of a different color or abandon traditional shingles in favor of some other material, such as:

  • clay tile
  • slate
  • wood shake shingles

As an added bonus, clay, slate, and wood shake roofing materials offer a much longer service life. A slate roof, for example, can last for more than a century.

Depending on your ambition level, you might even decide on a complete change to the roof style.

Parting Thoughts on What to Do with Your Damaged Roof

A damaged roof breaks the environmental envelope of your home. In more extreme cases, it creates a toxic environment by allowing mold and mildew to grow.

When choosing between repair and replacement, you must weigh several factors. The cost often makes the choice for you. The extent of the damage can make replacement the only option.

You must consider the age of the roof, expert recommendations, and how long you can wait. A damaged roof can also provide you with an opportunity for a style update. You can select a different color or different roofing material.

The key takeaway is that the damage must get repaired in some way.

Roof repair or replacement got you in the mood for more home improvements? Check out our post on upgrades that make homes look more expensive.