How Many Layers of Shingles Can Go On a Roof?

Meg Scanlon
Written by Meg Scanlon
Reviewed by Ami Feller
Updated June 22, 2022
A modern suburban house
Photo: qingwa / Adobe Stock

How to make the right decision for your roof—every shingle time

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When you notice shingle damage on your roof, you may start to wonder if you’ll soon be footing the bill for a full roof replacement. While a roof replacement is sometimes required, adding a second layer of shingles over the damaged portion (also called an overlay or a layover) can be a viable option in some situations.

Adding an overlay to your roof isn't always the right move, so it’s important to carefully consider your specific situation before you make a decision. Find out how many layers of shingles you can put on a roof and when you should just replace your roof instead.

How Many Layers of Shingles Can You Put on a Roof?

At maximum, you can safely layer up to two layers of organic or fiberglass asphalt shingles for roofs with up to an 18.5-degree pitch. Any more than two layers adds too much weight to your roof. Some local building codes don’t allow overlaying at all; in those municipalities, you can only have one layer of shingles. It’s always a good idea to review any applicable codes before you launch a repair or renovation project.

This roof pitch, which refers to a roof that rises 4 inches every 1 foot, is fairly standard for residential roofs.

When Should You Consider an Overlay? 

Your roof is an important component of your home. It adds to your curb appeal and protects you and your family from the elements. So when it’s time for a repair, you’ll want to take care of it as quickly as possible.

If you’re considering adding a second layer of shingles to your roof, know it’s not the best option for all situations. 

However, here’s a look at when an overlay could be the right option for you:

  • The roof itself is not damaged or rotten

  • The damaged shingles are contained to one section of the roof

  • The majority of the roof is not in need of new shingles

  • There are not already multiple layers of shingles on your roof

Often, this sort of shingle damage happens when you experience high winds or damage from falling trees or branches. If general wear and tear or weathering has occurred across your whole roof over many years, an overlay is generally not a good option. 

Benefits of Adding Another Layer of Shingles

The benefits of adding a roof overlay include cost and time savings. Since an overlay involves roofers simply putting a new layer of shingles over the old ones, they don’t have to remove existing shingles. This means a quicker job time and much less clean up. Because it takes less work to do an overlay compared to replacement, it saves money in labor costs.

Considerations Before Adding a Shingle Overlay

Before adding another layer of shingles to your roof, you’ll want to ask yourself some specific questions. 

What Does My Warranty Say?

Before adding a second layer of shingles, you’ll want to check your roof warranty to ensure this sort of repair won’t diminish or void it. If adding an overlay isn't compatible with your warranty, you may need to choose between replacing your roof and diminishing or voiding your warranty. 

Will the Extra Weight Damage the Roof Underneath?

While shingles don’t weigh a lot on their own (most asphalt shingles weigh between 2 and 3 pounds per square foot), that weight can add up quickly when the roof underneath is damaged. 

Additionally, second-layer shingles are often designed to weigh more since they have to disguise any higher points or depressions from broken or missing shingles. The fasteners used to secure the shingles, like staples and nails, also need to be longer and heavier since they must reach through multiple layers. 

If your roof is already weak or damaged, this extra weight can put undue stress on your roof and structure. This can lead to movement and settling of the house, which can cause cracks in the foundation and walls. 

As you consider whether your roof can withstand the extra weight of a second layer of shingles, you’ll need to think about the following:

  • Does your area get lots of snow and ice, which can add to the overall weight resting on the roof? 

  • Is the roof underneath your shingle damage sound and free from damage?

  • Have you had a professional roofer in your area assess the weight that your roof and structure can withstand?

Will I Need to Fully Replace My Roof in the Near Future?

Eventually, all roofs need to be replaced, so if you know you’ll need a replacement in the next couple of years, choosing a complete replacement now instead of an overlay may keep you from paying double (overlay and roof replacement) in the long run.

Keep in mind that, when it does come time to replace your roof, removing a double layer of shingles will cost more than removing a single layer.

How Much Does a Shingle Overlay Cost?

The cost of adding a shingle overlay will depend largely on how much area you have to cover and the product you’re installing. On average, the cost to repair a roof, including materials and labor, is around $1,000. 

Replacing a roof entirely tends to be much more expensive than laying a second layer of shingles. Depending on the size of your roof and the materials you choose, you can expect to pay an average of $14,000 for a new roof.

Adding an overlay or completing a full roof replacement can improve curb appeal and keep you feeling safe and secure at home. The right roofing contractor will be able to talk you through the pros and cons of each option and give you the information you need to make a good decision. 

Can I DIY a Shingle Overlay Project?

While it can be tempting to save some money and handle the project yourself, it may be in your best interest (and safety) to let a roofing pro proceed with any repairs, updates, and installation.

Stay safely on the ground while a roofing pro adds a second layer of shingles to your home (or completes a full roof replacement), to ensure proper installation.

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