The Roof Replacement Process: Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve noticed wear and tear on your roof, it might be time to consider a replacement. Although the prospect of replacing your roof can seem overwhelming, fear not! We’re here to guide you through the entire process. This step-by-step breakdown will cover everything from the importance of roof replacements to how they can ultimately save you money in the long term. Investing in a new roof is not only a safeguard for your property but also an assurance of maintaining its value for the foreseeable future.

Why Choose Roof Replacement?

A roof replacement might be a better option for you than repair if any of the following are true:

  • There is significant damage to the structure, indicating extensive deterioration that could compromise the building’s integrity.
  • Massive leaks have been detected, leading to potential interior damage and necessitating immediate repair to prevent further issues.
  • The poor quality of materials used on your current roof has resulted in decreased durability and effectiveness, leaving it vulnerable to the elements.
  • The roof has reached the end of its lifespan, meaning it no longer provides the necessary protection against weather conditions and needs to be replaced.

The age of a roof is a typical factor for considering replacement. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the lifespan significantly depends on the initial choice of roofing material. Below are the average lifespans of the most commonly used roofing materials in the southern region:

  • 3-Tab Composition (10-15 Years)
  • Dimensional Composition (15-25 Years)
  • Presidential Composition (25-40 Years)
  • Tile (40-50 Years)
  • Wood Shake (15-20 Years)
  • Metal (20-40 Years)

If your roof is old, needs repair, or has been damaged in a storm, you may need to replace it. Once you have decided to replace your roof, you need to be prepared for what will come next.

Steps in the Roof Replacement Process

Below, we present a detailed guide outlining each step of the roof replacement process, providing a comprehensive look into every aspect involved.

Roof Inspection:

Finding the best roofing contractor is not easy, but it’s the most crucial step in this process. You need to look for several things when finding a roofing company. You want a contractor that has been in business for at least five years, is insured and licensed, has excellent reviews online from others who have used their services before, and can provide references of previous jobs they’ve completed nearby if possible. This will ensure you know exactly what type of work they’re capable of doing!

Roof Inspection:

To evaluate the condition of your roof, begin with a complimentary professional inspection from reputable roofing contractors. This initial assessment is crucial in determining whether a roof replacement is necessary and identifying the most suitable materials for your specific needs. A comprehensive inspection includes a visual check for any damage or leaks, a testament to the contractor’s commitment to quality and their dedication to clearly communicate their findings and the recommended course of action. A reliable roofing contractor will prioritize the best interests of your home, suggesting repairs when feasible.

Ensure that your contractor offers a detailed explanation for recommending a replacement, covering the severity of the issues, the roof’s age, and providing a reasonable quote for the replacement.

Choose Your Roofing Materials:

The next step in the roof replacement process is to choose the type of roofing you want. Many different roofing materials are available, each with benefits and drawbacks. You’ll likely have to replace your roof with the same material that is currently on your home but if you can choose, here are some of the main typical roofing materials:

  • 3-Tab Composition
  • Dimensional Composition
  • Presidential Composition
  • Tile
  • Wood Shake
  • Metal

This is where it gets interesting because roofs are a long-term investment, and you want to be sure that you’re getting the best option for your property. Depending on the type of roofing materials you currently have, the roofing contractor will review possible material selections with you. They will also provide an estimate for the cost of the possible materials. It’s essential to select a durable material that can withstand the weather in your area. If you’re in an area with large storms, be sure to speak with your roofing contractor about specific recommendations they have to ensure you’re well protected. 

Roof Replacement Process - Materials

Cost of Materials:

While items like flashing and underlayment are fairly constant across roof replacements, the cost of overlay material can vary widely depending on the type of material you choose. For example, asphalt shingles are one of the most affordable roofing options, while tile roofing is the top-end of the market. Here is a breakdown of the average cost of roofing materials:

  • Asphalt Shingles ($3.00 – $6.00 per square foot)
  • Wood Shakes/Shingles ($12.00-$24.00 per square foot)
  • Metal Roofing ($9.00 – $18.00 per square foot)
  • Tile ($7.00 – $16.00 per square foot)

The actual cost will vary depending on the size and pitch of your roof, the type of roofing you choose, and the complexity of the roof replacement job itself.

Roofing Financing:

The cost of a roof replacement can be significant, so it’s important to plan and budget for the project. You can pay for your new roof in a variety of ways including home loans, credit cards, and cash however financing with your roofing contractor directly may be the best option. Many roofing contractors offer financing options to help make the roof replacement process more affordable.

It’s important to keep inflation in mind here as well. With the inflation rate surpassing the average interest rate on home improvement loans, locking in a fixed-cost means you’ll save money in the short term and long term. Some roofing companies (especially us) offer roof financing that can get you a new roof for as low as $60 per month, depending on the size of your home.

Property Preparation:

Once you’ve chosen your roofing and budgeted for the project, it’s time to prepare your property for replacement. You’ll need to provide space for the construction team, materials, and tools. It is also recommended that you clear any large branches, shrubs, or debris that would impede the replacement. It’s important to note that many roofing contractors will incorporate site preparation into their replacement bids, so don’t forget to ask what’s included before you begin. Quality and thorough preparation stages, such as this one, assure a secure and high-quality roof replacement in the end. This stage is just as important as any of the others and should not be skipped!

Before work begins, the contractor will put up tarps or other covering to protect your property from any potential damage. They will also clean up any loose debris and secure any trees or roof accessories that may pose a risk during the replacement process. Contractors who skip safety precautions or have a sloppy job site are likely to encounter problems during installation.

Material Deliveries:

The roofing materials will be delivered to your home next. This is generally accomplished a few days before the actual roof replacement begins. As we previously stated, make sure you have informed your contractor where they should be placed and that there is sufficient clearance for the goods to be unloaded. Typically a local supply company will deliver your roofing materials at least one day before the installation. They will carefully place one or more pallets of roofing materials somewhere easily accessible to the installers and usually close to the roof. Most of the time, this is at the back of the driveway.

If you might have problems with vehicles getting in and out of your garage, discuss this step with your installer, and they can make special requests to the supplier before they deliver the product. The products will not be damaged sitting out in the open weather waiting for install, so there is no need to worry about that.

Remove Old Roofing Materials:

In the intricate process of roof replacement, the initial step involves the meticulous removal of old roofing materials, a task that is essential to reveal the bare plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing that lies underneath. This challenging step is particularly crucial, whether dealing with flat roofs or pitched ones, as it involves carefully stripping away layers of shingles and tiles. The goal is to prevent any potential damage to the wood decking beneath, which serves as the foundational support for the new roofing materials. A high-quality roofing contractor plays a pivotal role in this phase, employing expertise and attention to detail to ensure that every piece of the old material is removed. This includes a thorough cleanup of all nails, staples, and debris, which is critical to prevent injuries and prepare the surface for the next stage.

The contractor’s commitment to a clean and meticulous removal process paves the way for the new roofing installation, laying the groundwork for a roof that will not only look aesthetically pleasing but also offer enhanced protection and longevity.

Roof Replacement Process - Material Removal


The most crucial phase in any roofing project involves the meticulous inspection and potential replacement of damaged roof decking. This stage is notably unpredictable and cannot be fully assessed until the old roofing materials have been removed. Given this uncertainty, it’s imperative to engage in a thorough discussion about potential costs for wood replacement and repairs with your chosen roofing company before the project begins. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the charges for each sheet of plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) sheathing that might be needed, and it’s wise to set aside a contingency budget for any unexpected repairs that may arise during the process.

To ensure full transparency and to avoid any unnecessary charges, a professional roofer should be willing to provide detailed photographs of any damage they discover. These photos serve as evidence of the necessity for repairs and allow you to see exactly what issues are being addressed. This level of transparency is crucial for building trust between you and your roofing contractor and ensures that you are only paying for repairs that are absolutely necessary.

Clean Gutters:

Once the old roofing materials have been removed, it’s time to clean out your gutters. This helps ensure that they are free of debris and ready to catch any water that might come off your new roof.

Replace Flashing:

The next crucial step is to replace any flashing. Flashing helps direct water away from your roof and home, which “step flashing” does along walls and chimneys specifically. Although it’s a small part of the roofing system, flashing needs to be in excellent condition before continuing with the new installation so that there are no issues later on.  This is a job that many roofers ignore. Some roofers may save time and money by reusing all of the flashings on the roof, but we don’t recommend it.

Install New Underlayment:

The roof replacement process continues with the installation of new underlayment. Underlayment is a water-resistant barrier that protects your roof from leaks. It’s put over the roof decking before new roofing materials are installed.

Install the Water and Ice Shield:

In some roofing jobs, a water and ice shield is also installed. This is a membrane that may be applied to roof edges, valleys, roof to walls, and anywhere else water might collect on your roof. This shield is applied to further protect your roof against leaks. This step is especially important if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow or rain.

Water and Ice Barrier

Install New Roofing Materials:

Once the underlayment is situated, you can finally roof your home with new materials. The time this will take and the difficulty of installation depends on which roofing material you select. If you want asphalt shingles – which are the most popular –  your roofer will place them accordingly to ensure a thorough seal over your rooftops.

Site Cleanup:

Roof Replacement Process - Cleanup

The final step in the roof replacement process is to clean up any debris that might have been left behind during the roof replacement. This includes roofing nails, old roofing materials, and any other construction waste. It’s important to make sure that your contractor leaves your property as clean as it was when they arrived so you can enjoy your new roof worry-free!


This final inspection stage is a chance for the contractor to review their work once more before leaving you with your new roof! They should walk around the perimeter of the home inspecting each component individually. This is also a good time to ask any questions that you may have about replacing a home roof. Congratulations, you have a new roof!

If you reside in a state that mandates a permit, a city or county inspector will need to review your project. It’s imperative to engage a reputable roofing contractor. Should they identify any installation problems, it could lead to significant delays and affect the quality of your finished roof.

The Importance of a High-Quality Contractor

Understanding the intricacies of the roof replacement process is of paramount importance. Securing a reputable and trusted roofing contractor is essential in guaranteeing the safety and integrity of your home. Opting for a quality roof replacement not only markedly enhances the aesthetic appeal and value of your property but also offers robust protection against harsh weather conditions. Conversely, a substandard replacement job can lead to numerous problems, ranging from leaks to structural damage.

Roof MD stands out as a leading roofing contractor in Tennessee, renowned for our commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction. We offer comprehensive services that include free roof inspections to assess the condition of your roof, detailed replacement quotes that outline the costs involved, and flexible financing options designed to make the roof replacement process as affordable as possible.

With Roof MD, homeowners can rest assured that they are in capable hands, receiving top-tier service and craftsmanship.