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How To Tell How Many Layers Of Shingles

When you’re moving into a house that had a previous owner, the first thing that you have to do is to look at the history of your home. Doing an extensive inspection of your new home’s roof can help you be more aware of what you have to repair and replace. The regular maintenance of your roof can help extend its lifespan. 

But just like any roofing material out there, shingles do have a lifespan. When there’s permanent damage to your roof, the best solution is to opt for a roof replacement. However, there are some homeowners who would choose to get around the process of tearing down a roof since it’s a messy and time-consuming process. As a result, there are some homes that have layers of shingles being stacked on top of each other. 

If you’re moving into your new home, you’ll need to check how many layers of shingles are on your roof. The number of shingles on your roof will give you a good glimpse on what’s the expected lifespan of your roof and whether you need to replace it or not. 

But before we get into how many layers of shingles could be on your roof, we have to first look at what kind of damages overlaying could do to your home. 

Should I Overlay? 

There is an ongoing debate in the roofing industry on whether roofing materials should be layered on top of each other. In most cases, roofing contractors would not recommend this as a way of installing a roof. In the short term, you might be able to save money and expedite the process of having a new set of roofing materials on your roof, but it will also inadvertently lead to future problems and issues. 

Disadvantages Of Overlaying

There’s a reason why roofing contractors would suggest not to overlay and these are some of the reasons: 

Voids Warranties 

Warranties are very specific about what they cover. Most warranties will cover only human errors and some will also cover damages incurred by factory defects and the installation process. However, warranties can become void if your roof is being overlayed with another set of shingles. 

It’s recommended that you contact your shingle’s manufacturers on what the warranties cover. 

More Weight 

When you’re overlaying, you’re essentially stacking up different sets of roofing materials on top of each other. If you’re going to stack shingles on an average 1600 square feet roof, your roof is going to weigh more than a ton. If your roof’s supporting structure can’t support the weight, then this can lead to your roof getting damaged, or even sagging in the long-term.

More Expensive On The Long Run 

Not only does overlaying conceal damages, but the new layer will adhere to the shape of the older layer. If your older layer’s shingles are bulging and sagging, then your new layer will take the same shape which can lead to future damages. If you’re investing money on your roofing materials, then you wouldn’t want to replace them again because of the damages, would you? 

Benefits Of Overlaying 

In most cases, the reason why most homeowners opt to overlay their roof is that it’s a process that doesn’t take much effort or time. Here are the following reasons why people choose to overlay:


 In the short term, you’re paying less for the installation of a new set of shingles. Roof replacements mean that you will need to have your older layer replaced with a new set which can be an extra cost to your contractor’s labor fee. 

Not Much Effort And Energy 

Since you’re skipping the whole tearing-down-your-roof process, it won’t take up as much energy and effort. Moreover, you can skip installing your new set of shingles.  Moreover, it’s less mess since there’s no debris from tearing down your roof. 

Saves Time 

Roof replacements can usually take well over a week to finish. If you’re just installing shingles on top of each other, you’re expediting the process and shortening it to a few days instead. 

Ultimately, there are more disadvantages to overlaying than there are advantages and homeowners should be mindful of these factors. Replacing or installing a roof will usually cost thousands of dollars worth of roofing materials, and we’re still not going into the labor costs which can also amount to the same amount.  That said, overlaying can damage your new set of materials which means that it’s a better decision to go through the whole roof replacement process instead. 

How Many Layers Should There Be? 

To summarize everything, old houses tend to have two layers of shingles since it’s the average amount of weight that the supporting beams of old roofs can handle. Most modern roof designs can usually handle around 4 layers of shingles. Again, this isn’t something that is advisable since it can lead to many roofing problems. 

If you’re not up for the task, then the best course of action in looking at how many shingles your roof has is to have a home inspector or a roofing contractor look at it. Having professional advice can save you thousands of dollars worth of money that might have gone unnecessarily towards a roof replacement.

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