How To Know What Your Roofer Means By "Complete Roof Replacement" | Yellowhammer Roofing

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How To Know What Your Roofer Means By "Complete Roof Replacement"

How To Know What Your Roofer Means By “Complete Roof Replacement”

“Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you will be among the stars.” That saying is cute but nonsensical; the moon is only 250,000 miles from earth, while the nearest star (our own Sun) is 372 times farther away, at a distance of 93 million miles. Other sayings, like “complete roof replacement,” often do not mean what you think, either. Just what is a complete roof replacement?


The term “re-roof” in residential roofing practice means the bad practice of installing a new roof on top of an old one. The problems with this “cost-saving” tactic are many:

  • Added weight on your home’s rafters, joists, and exterior walls
  • Telegraphing of the old layer up to the new, making a hideous mess
  • Defects in the old roof are covered up instead of repaired
  • Roof leaks are nearly impossible to locate and remedy
  • The warranty on the new roof will likely be voided by such a shoddy installation

As you interview at least three roofers for your complete roof replacement project on your Tennessee or Alabama home, listen carefully. Show them the door if roofers’ representatives mention re-roofing instead of full roof replacement. You want a complete replacement of your home’s existing roof, including carting away the old roof. 


To ensure you are on the right path to complete roof replacement, listen for the term “tear-off,” which is the process of tearing off the old roofing material to get down to lower layers:

  • Underlayment — Natural or synthetic felt rolled out and stapled down to protect the sheathing; it should always be replaced
  • Water and ice shield — A thick, spongy waterproof material that self-adheres along the lower roof edge and in valleys
  • Sheathing — Flat sheets of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) spanning the rafters

The various elements of the existing shingle roof — drip edge, starter shingles, field shingles, ridge vents, flashing, rubber boots — may all be removed for carting to a landfill or recycling center. For a metal roof, nearly all of the old roof can be recycled after removal. 

Only through a full tear-off can your residential roofing contractor determine the condition of your home’s sheathing. Damaged, moldy, or rotten sheathing must be replaced in a complete roof replacement. Otherwise, the new roof’s foundation is weak from the start. 

Complete Means Complete

A complete roof replacement continues after tear-off with an assessment of rafters and sheathing. Rafters are the angled structural members that support the roof. If they are bowed, cupped, or crowned incorrectly, your roof will never look right. A good roofer will evaluate your rafters before doing anything else. Faulty rafters can be replaced, sistered, or braced. 

Complete roof replacement continues with fresh underlayment and a close inspection of the existing ice and water shield. If sheathing does not need to be replaced, the water and ice shield can sometimes be left in place. 

Depending on your selection of roofing material (shingle or metal roofing), your roofer continues with the installation of your new roof:

  • Battens for most metal roofing
  • Starter course shingles along the lower edge
  • Custom-fit metal panels, or field shingles, for the majority of the roof
  • Fresh new ridge vents
  • Flashing and rubber boots around roof piercings like sanitary stacks and skylights

Drip edge is installed as the process unfolds, allowing water to move away and off your roof. Other details depend on your materials choices and budget. 

In general, a complete roof replacement ends with a great new shingle or metal roof. No traces of the old roof will be visible. You will feel immense pride in your gleaming new metal roof or crisp, clean shingle roof. 

How Long?

A total roof replacement takes only a matter of days. In comparison, roof repair work can vary from a few hours by one or two roofers to several days, depending on the severity of the problem. 

Complete roof replacement entails a whole crew, plenty of equipment, the right tools, and a job site manager

If any “roofer” claims re-roofing your home will cut down on time or cost, steer clear of that “roofer!” You can enjoy an amazingly handsome new shingle roof — or a glistening new metal roof — in just a few days, including the time needed to tear off the old roof. 

Your home’s value is preserved (or often boosted!), and your new roof offers complete protection. With a complete roof replacement, you get a great value:

Complete roof replacement will leave you completely satisfied. Yellowhammer Roofing in Birmingham, Alabama, provides a full range of residential roofing services to clients throughout Tennessee and Alabama. Contact us today to find out more about roof inspections, roofing systems, roof repair, and complete roof replacement.

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