DIY Roof Replacement vs. Professional Roof Installation: Which is the Better Option?

Kenneth Wilson

Roof replacement is a major home repair that might not be as glamorous as other types of house renovations, but it's still just as important. Just imagine—an old roof that fails can destroy your home, from the attic insulation down to the basement room where you can find most of your most precious stuff!

You should not take replacing your roof lightly, neither should you delay it. It is an extensive project which will requires careful handling due to possible complications and risks. Thus, you have to make sure to get the best when it comes to replacing your roof. Though it is tempting to go DIY, getting professional help from experts has its own unique benefits. 

This article will make decision-making a lot easier for you as we try to compare DIY roof replacement vs. professional installation.

When Do You Need to Replace The Roofing On Your Home?

Before going through the process of a roof replacement, homeowners must be knowledgeable as to when the replacement should take place. Hiring an expert roof inspector is still the best way to find out if you need to replace the roof, but you can also look out for these signs:

Your asphalt shingles are starting to deteriorate.

Picture by DMahalko, Dale Mahalko, Gilman, WI, USA

If you want to know whether or not your roof is in okay condition, keep an eye on your shingles! If they're is peeling, crumbling or curling, then it's most likely time to get those replaced. When you get on your roof to check out the shingles, you might even observe dark streaks as well as broken or missing pieces. These could all be signs of different issues, from contagious rotting to poor aging. Whichever the case, shingles that cannot do their job will subject your home to structural damage.

Here are common signs of shingle roof deterioration you need to look out for.

Rotting shingles

These are noticeable and contagious. They are often caused by water damage.

Damaged flashing

This usually happens around your chimney. They get damaged because of natural wear and tear.

Decaying shingles

Shingles will naturally decay due to the passage of time.

Blistering shingles

The surface of your shingles look like they're bubbling up. This is because of gas and moisture buildup.

Missing shingles

This is very easy to spot. The usual cause is intense winds and other extreme weather.

Curling shingles

Your shingles look like they're lifting off your roof due to poor quality materials or excessive dryness.

The roof is sagging.

Picture by Evelyn Simak 

When you're outside your home and you see the presence of a dip or curve on your roof, it's time to worry. This would mean that the roof can no longer support the weight of the ice or snow that has been settling on top of it.

There is a discoloration on the ceiling.

A damaged and failing roof usually has leaks, which eventually bring about discoloration as water from the outside will get into the entry points and drip to the ceiling. These can show up as brown spots or patches. Aside from discoloration, you might even notice a musty smell. Sometimes, all you need to do is remove the water stains and address the tiny leak. But if you find yourself dealing with multiple significant leaks in your roof, you will need to consider a roof replacement.

The following steps will show you how to locate those pesky leaks:

Step 1

Look for the first signs. These include: musty odor, water stains on the ceiling, spots on exterior walls, and missing or warped shingles.

Step 2

Grab a flashlight and check your attic. Take a look around for mold, black marks and water stains in the sheathing and rafters.

Step 3

Didn't find anything? Wait for the rain. You can even make it "rain" with your garden hose. Watch out for any dripping inside your house so you can identify which section could have a leak.

Step 4

Tear it up. Once you know which sections have leaks, you can remove the shingles to identify the exact spot with the help of water stains and rotting wood. Now all's that's left to do is repair it!

The roof deck is damaged.

Picture by Riisipuuro

Check the parts of the roof that are not easily visible. This includes the decking or sheathing, which is what connects your roof to your house. Because they're usually made of wood, they are prone to water damage and rot. If this part of your roof is damaged, it will not be able to support your roof's weight for long.

Breeze or draft is present in the attic.

Picture by Dwight Sipler

Always extend the inspection to the attic, including the seams and the insulation. If you feel a breeze, that means there could be hidden cracks that need to be taken care of! Try checking during the day to see if there is daylight coming through any holes in the roof. These need to be taken care of right away as they can be an entry point for the elements and unwanted guests. Roof rats, anyone?

The roof has reached its lifespan.

Picture by Tttrung

Any roofing system has a predicted lifespan that can sometimes be outlived with careful maintenance.

Asphalt shingle/composition roofs

20 years

Fiber cement shingle roofs

25 years

Wood shake roofs

30 years

Slate, copper and tile roofs

More than 50 years

There are times when the roof tends to look like it's beyond its lifespan. Be sure to perform a thorough inspection or seek professional help. Doing so will determine how much longer the roof could last.

DIY Roof Replacement vs. Professional Roof Installation

Moore, Okla. July 27, 2013 -- Roofers work to repair a home that was damaged in the May 20th EF-5 tornado. Roof damage is of the most common forms of damage seen sustained by homes still standing. Dominick Biocchi/FEMA

Deciding when to get the roof replacement is just the first step. Next, homeowners will have to figure out who will do the job!

For some, it may be very tempting to go DIY due to the availability of video tutorials on the Internet. You may opt to complete your roof replacement by ordering the tools and materials, then putting in the elbow grease. However, you must be aware of the dangers and consequences that may come with doing it your way. A single misstep can cause colossal damage.

Some of you will hire roofing experts instead. Professional roofing contractors and companies are already set to do the job. Move over YouTube and Google—these guys are equipped with years of experience and knowledge, as well as the specialty tools to make roof replacements.

Keep in mind that roofing is risky business. Little should be left to fate when it comes to roof installation and repairs. Do NOT attempt a DIY unless you actually know what you're doing.

Replacing Your Roof on Your Own

Lance Corporal (LCPL) Johnny Pineda, USMC, (Left) & LCPL Jason S. Leonard, USMC (Right) Combat Engineers, 1st CEB (Combat Engineer Battalion), BLT 1/4 (Battalion Landing Team), from the Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU (SOC)), work together hammering nails into the tin roof of the school house in Faza, Kenya. The schoolhouse is being built as part of community relations during Exercise EDGE MALLET Ô02.

If the urge to DIY the roof is still strong, you must make a judgment call on the structural support of your roof. Roof replacement is a demanding task, so you have to be comfortable with your ability to get the job done. 

The roofing system is not as simple as it looks. You need to consider factors such as roof inclination, lack of barrier, and floor distance, which could pose as dangers if not done right. 

Furthermore, you should also assess your own physical abilities. You'd have to balance yourself on the roof for an extended period of time. Not to mention, you'd also need to know how to walk while traversing through different areas of your roof. The very act of walking could cause more damage, which would result in more expenses for you.

So now you understand your roof and your own abilities. Next, you need to be sure that you understand how the roof replacement process works. There are DIY websites that go through the steps of roof replacement for simple, straightforward roofs. Make sure you're able to follow package directions and safety procedures.

All in all, we do NOT recommend for you to tackle a big roof replacement project without the help of an expert. There could be extensive damage that isn't visible to the untrained eye, or other factors at play like pitch changes and chimneys.

If you have the materials needed, you can start working on smaller spaces. Here are the minor roofing tasks you can perform on your own:

  • Replacing parts of your roof if there are any noticeable slight leaks. These include spots or areas where the water drips in a small space.  
  • Replacing any loose and individual shingles on the roof. You can do this with a small patch of shingles that requires replacement. 
  • Applying sealant over a small leak on the roof.

Hiring a Professional

Moore, Okla. July 27, 2013 -- Roofers work to repair a home that was damaged in the May 20th EF-5 tornado. Roof damage is of the most common forms of damage seen sustained by homes still standing. Dominick Biocchi/FEMA

DIY projects can bring you the satisfaction of starting and finishing the project all on your own. Plus, you can also save some money. However, when it comes to DIY roofing replacements, you must think twice!

Unless you are a pro, your knowledge and equipment may not be enough to do the job. This may cause you injuries and damages, which are very costly mistakes both to your body and to your roofing system. 

Roofing may look easy, but it's not! Thus, hiring an experienced person to do the job is essential due to the following reasons:

Contractors are Knowledgeable and Well-Trained Roofers

The roof is a very complex system that comes with different layers and components. You must connect these pieces properly to prevent issues like water getting into your home. 

Professional roofers undergo training to ensure a complete understanding of the roofing system based on the manufacturer's standards and the state. They are certified and accredited by an association before they can fully work on the roof. 

Contractors Have Insurance and Liability

Insurance will most likely not cover the damages caused by unskilled workers. They may deny the claim with an argument of negligence, leading you to pay for the repairs straight from your pocket. 

Professional roofers are less likely to commit any mistakes. But on the off chance that they do, the insurance company will cover any damage. Reputable companies will also return to fix or finish the job without any additional cost.

Contractors Have Limited Warranties

Hiring a professional roofer will cover two limited warranties: one from the roofer and another from the manufacturer. Attempting your roof repair will not cover both warranties of the roofer and the manufacturer. 

Professional roofers must comply with the requirements set by the manufacturer and the building code for proper installation. Doing so will make you eligible for the coverage of the limited warranty. 

Contractors Help You Avoid Unnecessary Costs

Some homeowners tend to miscalculate the estimated costs for the roofing job due to excess quantities, faulty materials, and rental prices. These mistakes are unlikely to give you any savings with your DIY project. 

In addition, professional roofers can use the excess materials on their other projects without adding any unnecessary costs on your part. Plus, they already have the needed tools and equipment to ensure a safe and correct installation. 

Contractors Can Complete the Project Quickly

With consideration of the weather, completing the work efficiently will reduce the risk of any damage. The conditions outside can quickly change, which can cause damage to the roofing materials.

Professional roofers tend to complete the job faster due to their knowledge and experiences, thus reducing the exposure of the roof to the weather. They will be 100% focused on the job, while you have other chores to worry about.

Contractors Can Handle the Safety Hazards

Roofing is a dangerous task. Some of the significant risks include falling off the ladder or falling off the roof. The use of nail guns is another safety hazard as it requires the proper pressure; otherwise, severe damage may happen. Moreover, improper roof repairs may create unsafe conditions for your home, such as leaks.

Professional roofers are trained to follow strict safety measures that consider extreme heat, slippery conditions, loose debris and more. You do not want to land in the ER because of a serious fall!

How Much Will a Roof Replacement Cost?

House with old roof and sunroof

The size of the home and roof are the determining factors for the roof replacement costs. While the roof comes in various shapes, styles, and sizes, replacing the roof of your home costs between $7000 to $12000, on average.

Meanwhile, the labor costs vary greatly on the material to be used, roof pitch, and home shape. The more complex the roof structure and the angles, the longer the time needed to reroof. Most roofers charge homeowners around $75 per hour or $150 to $300 per square, depending on the agreed contract.

Bottom Line

For some, a roof replacement can be more complex and costly than any other home renovation. But, generally speaking, you get what you pay for with roof repairs as long as you positioned yourself on the right track—like deciding on whether to go DIY or hire a contractor.

DIY roof projects are best with minor roofing tasks only. Otherwise, your roof could end upless effective and prone to more issues. An expert can do a complete, labor-intensive roof replacement which will ensure the safety and security of your family. Keep in mind that the money you invest in your roofing system is worth it as this will last you more years when done correctly by a professional!

Kenneth Wilson
June 25, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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