Razing the roof? What to consider before re-covering your home

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If you’re wondering whether to repair or replace your existing roof due to its age or its condition, there are a few things to keep in mind. You might choose tearing off the current roof and starting from scratch, patching a portion of it, or “roofing over” your existing one. (Always make sure your roofer is licensed and insured.)

Patching can be tricky when it comes to matching colors of existing materials and having the finished roof keep its original lines, with no obvious ridges or humps. This works best when just a few shingles need replacing.

Roofing over isn’t always an option. As a general rule, you can only do this if your existing roof is one layer deep. Why? Individual shingles don’t feel heavy, but by the time you’ve covered an entire roof with them, they can weigh as much as two tons!

You may need to reroof your entire structure, which, surprisingly, could be cheaper long-term. Depending on your existing roof’s age, you might save a little money now and risk greater expenses down the road.

While the first settlers at Jamestown used thatch, your roofing options today are about as varied as housing styles. Some choices, along with a rough idea of cost per square foot, are below. (Pitch also factors into price!) The most popular options around Charlottesville, according to Damon Galessi of Roofcrafters, are dimensional shingle and metal.

Metals roofs provide lasting durability, absorb only 30 percent of the heat of an asphalt roof, and are made from 30-60 percent recycled materials. Expect them to last 40-60 years.

Dimensional shingles are asphalt shingles with a couple of products bonded together for a dimensional look, with more color and pattern options than traditional asphalt. The double-bonded layer offers better wind and hail protection. Typical lifespan is 40-60 years.

Synthetic slate is growing in popularity, Galessi said. It’s more durable but still offers natural slate beauty. Lightweight, it’s freeze and thaw resistant and virtually maintenance free. It’s also recyclable and should last 20-25 years.

And if you’re considering a thatched roof (which should last 50-100 years), you’ll need a very steeply pitched roof and roughly $30 per square foot, plus labor and travel costs for your master thatcher.

Cost comparison

Here’s what each of these roofing options will cost you per square foot.

Metal roofs: $7.24-9.28

Dimensional shingles: $2.43-3.67

Synthetic slate: $4.33-6.31

Thatch: $30