When Is It Best To Repair, Restore Or Replace A Building’s Roof?

Knowing whether to repair, restore, or replace damaged roofs and natural wear is key to extending roof life and maximizing efficiency.

roof maintenance
Adobe Stock/Rawf8
By Holcim Building Envelope 

A commercial roof is one of the most important investments for a business. It protects people, products, and infrastructure from the elements and is pivotal in managing energy usage and costs. But like any other part of a building, damage or normal wear to a roof will need to be addressed eventually. Whether to repair, restore, or replace a roof is an important and nuanced decision. It can be a capital-intensive project, and your choice can determine if you extend the life of your building for a few or many more years.   

There are many factors to consider when deciding what to do about your roof, including the age of your building and roof, the current and future purpose/use for the building, whether you need or want to include additional insulation, the extent of damage (if any), the type of roof you have, and your budget. The experts at Holcim Building Envelope have broken down the key considerations that go into making a well-informed decision on whether repairing, restoring, or replacing is the best solution for you. 


To properly care for your commercial roof, begin by evaluating its condition with a thorough inspection. Examine the roof for punctures and areas where water is pooling, and pay close attention to sections where rooftop equipment installations, including HVAC systems, have taken place. For a comprehensive assessment beyond what is visible, seek the expertise of a professional roofing contractor. Timely action is essential if any defects are present, such as weak spots or improperly sealed seams, as they can lead to water leakage and increased vulnerability to wind and hail. 

For minor leaks and limited damage, patching is a viable solution. Various repair options are designed to adhere to your roof type, from liquid-applied sealants to materials similar to the existing single-ply membrane. For more significant leaks and permanent repairs, your roof may require a full restoration or a tear-off/re-roofing process. Various solutions exist for these alternatives, catering to your roof’s condition and your specific needs.  


When deciding between roof restoration or replacement, consider how many more years of use you expect or need from your building. If you aim to extend the roof’s lifespan by another 10-20 years, and if it is currently in good condition (less than 25% repair needed), opting for a roof restoration through re-skinning or a restorative coating is an excellent choice. 

You’ll also want to work with a licensed roofing contractor to understand the roofing regulations for your state, especially in terms of the number of roofing assemblies that can be installed and their overall height in relation to the surrounding walls. 


There are several options for existing roofs with only one layer. Adding an additional roof layer can prolong its durability without incurring the full cost of a replacement. Reskinning the roof offers benefits like improving energy efficiency and providing added protection against the elements, extending the roof’s lifespan.  

For reskinning projects, two popular roofing materials are Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) and Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO). EPDM is a versatile membrane that offers various installation options, including fully adhered, ballasted, or mechanically attached, ensuring superior long-term weatherability and exceptional resistance to wind uplift. TPO is suitable for different low-slope commercial roofing applications and serves as a sustainable roofing solution for a wide range of building types. While reskinning will involve initial costs, it can yield long-term savings by reducing the frequency of roof repairs and lowering energy bills.  

Restorative Coatings 

Maintenance coating systems provide a cost-effective solution for extending the lifespan of a facility’s roof, particularly when there are already two roof assemblies in place, according to 2018 IBC regulations. Coatings are considered a maintenance measure and not a new roof, making them suitable for facilities that have reached the limit of allowable roof assemblies.  

As a maintenance system, in some cases coatings can be fully expensed in the year of application, reserving capital for other facility projects. 

Restorative coating systems offer several benefits, including waterproofing capabilities. By creating a seamless and fully adhered monolithic layer, coatings eliminate seams and glues and provide self-flashing around roof penetrations, reducing the need for additional detail work. Depending on your climate and specific roof requirements, various coating options can be suitable for maintaining your roof. 

Another advantage of maintenance coatings is their ability to extend the roof’s life by 10-20 years by forming a protective barrier against UV rays, wind, and rain. Additionally, coatings can enhance the roof’s aesthetics by covering existing damage or blemishes, giving it a refreshed appearance.  


When other solutions cannot meet your performance or longevity requirements, or if you have already reached the limit of re-roofing and restoration options (with two or more roofs/coating layers), replacing the roof is the final option. Also, if roof damage is widespread and visible, opting for a complete replacement can help to prevent water damage, mold growth, and other related issues. If you decide on re-roofing, it is essential to have a professional roofing contractor inspect your roof to determine the available options. 

The benefits of a full re-roofing project are numerous, starting with superior protection from the elements. Also, when bringing buildings up to code, a new roof can enhance energy efficiency and reduce energy bills. Recent advancements in roofing insulation contribute to greater energy savings and optimal temperature maintenance. Depending on your region’s weather patterns, the choice of roofing material, whether dark or light-colored, can have specific advantages. 

Moreover, a new roof adds value to buildings, attracting tenants who are responsible for heating and cooling costs and giving your property an edge over those with older roofs. It also offers peace of mind, especially if a leak would disrupt your business or tenant retention. In areas prone to severe weather, the reassurance of a sturdy roof is invaluable.

Regarding specific roofing materials, TPO single-ply membranes are highly regarded for their cost, performance, and installation advantages, providing resistance to UV, ozone, and chemical exposure. Roofing contractors will guide you in choosing between self-adhered, fully adhered, or mechanically attached TPO roofs based on your building’s needs. EPDM roofing membranes are also a popular choice, known for their durability, longevity, flexibility, and UV resistance.  

When deciding whether to repair or replace your roof, it’s crucial to make an informed choice based on your specific circumstances. If you’re uncertain about the best course of action, consult a professional roofing contractor, and don’t hesitate to ask specific questions. As a building owner or manager, receiving trustworthy advice is paramount, and partnering with a reputable manufacturer can simplify the process.  By working with experts, you can gain comprehensive knowledge about all available choices, empowering you to make an informed decision that aligns with your unique situation whether you opt for a repair, restoration, or replacement.

Holcim Building Envelope offers a comprehensive range of commercial roofing, wall and lining systems, insulation, and adhesives, coatings, and sealants for a variety of industries from construction to marine and aerospace.

Click here for more information about Roof Maintenance. 


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