What is a Retrofit Roof

Facing roof problems but hesitant about a full replacement? A retrofit roof might be the perfect solution for you.  This innovative technique involves installing a new roof directly over your existing one, offering a cost-effective way to extend your roof’s lifespan and improve your building’s performance.  

But, for exact, what is a retrofit roof? In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of retrofit roofing, compare it to traditional replacement, and explore the key benefits that make it a compelling option for many homeowners.

Table of Contents:

What is a Retrofit Roof?

A retrofit roof is essentially a second layer of roofing installed directly on top of your existing roof. The specific materials used for the new layer can vary depending on your needs and the existing roof’s condition.

Metal roofing and special roof coatings are popular choices, offering durability and weather resistance. While the concept might seem unconventional, retrofitting is a well-established technique and can be applied to roofs in generally good condition, with minor wear and tear but no major structural issues.

Traditional Roof Replacement vs. Retrofit Roofing

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between traditional roof replacement and retrofit roofing:

  • Existing Roof Deck:
    • Traditional Replacement: Removed entirely, leading to disposal costs and disruption.
    • Retrofit Roofing: Utilized as a base for the new roof, saving on costs and minimizing disruption.
  • Process:
    • Traditional Replacement: Time-consuming and messy due to tearing off old materials.
    • Retrofit Roofing: Faster installation with minimal disruption.
  • Cost:
    • Traditional Replacement: Generally more expensive due to labor and material removal.
    • Retrofit Roofing: Typically more cost-effective due to reduced labor and minimal removal.
  • Suitability:
    • Traditional Replacement: Applicable to all roofs.
    • Retrofit Roofing: Not suitable for all roofs; requires a qualified contractor to assess if the existing structure is sound.

Benefits of Retrofit Roofing

When it comes to your roof, facing potential repairs or replacements can be daunting. But before diving headfirst into a complete tear-off, consider the advantages of retrofit roofing. Here’s a closer look at the compelling benefits of retrofit roofing:

Cost-Effective Solution

Retrofit roofing offers significant cost advantages over traditional replacement. The process eliminates the need for extensive tear-off and disposal of old materials, leading to lower labor and material costs. Additionally, retrofit systems often utilize less expensive materials compared to full roof replacements.

Environmental Benefits

Retrofit roofing is an eco-friendly choice for several reasons:

  • Reduced Waste: By building upon the existing roof, retrofitting significantly reduces landfill waste compared to a complete tear-off.
  • Resource Conservation: Reusing the current roof structure conserves raw materials and energy that would otherwise be used to produce new roofing materials.
  • Sustainable Materials: Many retrofit systems use sustainable or recycled materials, further minimizing the environmental impact.

Improved Energy Efficiency

Retrofit roofing can significantly enhance your building’s energy performance:

  • Better Insulation: Retrofit systems often include advanced insulation materials that improve the thermal performance of your roof, keeping your building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Reflective Coatings: Many retrofit materials come with reflective coatings that reduce heat absorption by reflecting sunlight. This helps maintain a cooler building and lowers the load on your air conditioning system.
  • Lower Energy Bills: Improved insulation and reflective properties translate into lower energy bills. By maintaining a more stable indoor temperature, you’ll spend less on heating and cooling costs.

Extended Roof Lifespan

A retrofit roof can significantly extend the life of your existing roof:

  • Added Protection: By adding new layers, retrofit systems shield the existing roof from harsh weather conditions, UV radiation, and other damaging elements.
  • Prevention of Further Damage: The additional layers help prevent leaks and other issues that could lead to more significant damage over time. This proactive approach can save you from costly repairs down the line.
  • Longevity: With proper maintenance, a retrofit roof can extend the lifespan of your existing roof by many years, postponing the need for a complete replacement.

Minimal Disruption

Retrofitting your roof causes less disruption to your daily operations compared to a full roof replacement:

  • Quick Installation: Because the process is less invasive, the installation is typically faster, meaning less downtime for your building.
  • No Interior Exposure: Unlike traditional roofing, which might expose the interior to the elements during the tear-off phase, retrofit roofing keeps the existing roof intact, protecting the interior throughout the process.
  • Continued Operations: In most cases, you can continue using your building as usual during the retrofit process, avoiding the need for temporary relocation or shutdowns.


Retrofit roofing systems are versatile and can be applied to various types of roofs:

  • Compatibility: Retrofit systems can be used on flat roofs, low-slope roofs, and even some pitched roofs. This flexibility makes them suitable for a wide range of buildings, including commercial, industrial, and residential structures.
  • Custom Solutions: Depending on your building’s specific needs, retrofit systems can be customized with different materials and technologies to achieve the best performance.

Enhanced Building Value

Improving your roof with a retrofit system can increase your building’s overall value:

  • Attractive to Buyers: A well-maintained, energy-efficient roof is an attractive feature for potential buyers or tenants, making your property more marketable.
  • Increased Property Value: By extending the life of your roof and enhancing its performance, you can increase the overall value of your property.

How Retrofit Roof is Installed

While retrofitting offers significant advantages, it’s important to understand that the installation process itself requires expertise and proper safety precautions.  Unlike simple roof repairs, installing a new roof over your existing one involves working at heights, maneuvering heavy materials, and ensuring a watertight seal between the layers. 

For these reasons, we strongly advise against attempting a DIY retrofit roof installation.  Qualified and licensed roofing contractors possess the necessary experience, skills, and safety equipment to handle the job efficiently and minimize any risks.  They can also assess your existing roof structure to determine its suitability for retrofitting and recommend the most appropriate materials and techniques for your specific situation.


A retrofit roof can be a game-changer for your building, offering a cost-effective way to extend its lifespan, improve energy efficiency, and enhance its value.  If you’re considering roof repairs or replacement, don’t overlook the advantages of retrofitting.  Contact Ener-Spray today for a free consultation with our roofing experts.

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