Whether you’ve lived at the same address for years or you’ve just purchased a new home, you probably don’t have a solid idea of how old your roof actually is. This is a privilege only people who build their own homes get to take advantage of.
Although you might not know your roof’s age, this is a crucial detail for determining if you need a roof replacement. And even with modern roofing materials outlasting many people’s own lifespans, it’s still valuable information in case your roof reaches an untimely demise.
So, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “how long does a roof last?” keep reading. This guide will give you everything you need to know about the life expectancy of each roofing material, including:
- Asphalt and architectural shingles
- Metal roofing
- Tile (slate, clay, concrete, etc.)
- Solar panels
- Cedar and wood shakes
- Flat or built-up roofing
If you weren’t the one to originally install your home’s roof, it can be challenging to estimate its age and determine if you need a roof replacement. This up-to-date guide will give you in-depth details on the lifespan of different residential roofing materials and what might cause you to need a premature roof replacement down the line— let’s dive in!
How Long Does a Roof Last? A Breakdown by Roofing Material
Before we start discussing what might be causing early damage to your roof and lowering its life expectancy, let’s take a look at the average lifespan of some popular roofing materials found throughout America’s neighborhoods:
Asphalt Roof – 15 to 25 Years
As the most prevalent roofing material across the US, an asphalt shingle roof is a solid investment due to its affordability, relative durability, and ease of installation. However, no roof is immune from failure, and you might need an asphalt roof replacement after about 20 years.
On average, an asphalt shingle roof will last anywhere between 15 and 25 years with regular roof maintenance and upkeep. Some contributing factors that may shorten the life expectancy of your asphalt shingles include:
- UV exposure
- Shingle granule loss
- Cracking and denting
- Temperature fluctuations
- Repetitive ice damming
Metal Roofing – 40 to 75 Years
Another type of roofing material that’s gaining popularity country-wide is metal roofing, which can last for decades when installed and maintained properly. This long-lasting roofing material might cost more upfront, but you’ll be glad you made the investment when it reaches its expected roof lifespan of at least 50 years.
There are several types of premium metals you can install when you get a metal roof replacement, such as:
Each metal roofing material has unique benefits and drawbacks, but you can’t go wrong with steel, which is known to have a roof life expectancy of at least 60 years, if not more. Clearly, there’s a reason metal roofs are gaining so much traction amongst homeowners.
Architectural Shingles – 30 to 50 Years
Like your classic asphalt shingles, architectural or premium shingles are another laminated option that allows for long-term durability and style at a reasonable price point. The main difference between these shingle types is the style and color availability and the lifespan associated with each. With regular roof maintenance, this type of shingle roof should last between 30 and 50 years.
Wood Roof or Cedar Shake – 30 to 50 years
Wood shingles or shakes can last 30 to 50 years, making it another long-lasting roofing material. However, that’s only if you’re ready to put in the hard work and regular maintenance required of this beautiful roofing style.
Wooden shingles and cedar shakes are known for their great aesthetics, but they’re definitely not considered low-maintenance. Aside from the extra care required, they’re much more susceptible to fire, rot, and pest or insect infestations than other roofing materials.
What’s more, wood roofs can crack or break when hit hard enough, so that’s something to keep in mind if you live in a hail-heavy environment.
Tile Roofs – 50+ Years
Are you looking to replace your roof with a material that lasts a lifetime? Look no further than tile roofs, which come in a variety of styles and are known for their impressive lifespans of upwards of 50 years or more. Just be aware of the hefty price tag that comes along with them, too.
Clay tile roofs will last anywhere between 50 and 100 years with the right care, meaning it’s a roofing type with one of the longest lifespans. The clay tiles you see on clay roofs are made in a kiln and shaped into interlocking or overlapping tiles, making them resistant to fire, insects, rot, and more.
Unfortunately, clay roof tiles can crack when hit hard enough, and they can get heavy, so roof framing might be needed to reinforce your home before installation. The installation and repairs are what make a clay tile roof so pricy.
The most impressive life expectancy of any roof is slate roofs, which come in at an average of at least 100 years. Sounds unbelievable, right? Well, the downside of slate roofing is that it’s also heavy like clay and comes with the steepest price tag of any other type of roof.
Concrete roofing will also last close to a century, but once again, is quite heavy. Most tile roof styles will require you to install support along the roof frame in order to handle the extra weight without breaking or causing more damage.
Stone Coated Steel Tiles
Another long-lasting option is a stone-coated steel tile roof, which will also last upwards of 100 years with the right care. They’re made from steel that’s coated with a layer of strong stone, so they look like clay and slate, but you get to skip the expensive cost.
Solar Panels – 25 to 30 Years
Exploding in popularity nationwide, solar panels are another excellent option if you want to improve your home’s energy efficiency and reap other great benefits.
While they might not be the most aesthetically pleasing roofing material, you can still squeeze at least two to three decades out of your solar panels when maintained properly. What’s better is that they’ll still continue working with at least 80% efficiency, even after 25 years.
Flat Roofs – 20 Years
When properly cared for, a flat roof can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. These roofs are made using built-up, modified bitumen materials, making them a more durable option for commercial buildings and homes alike. Other flat roofing options like lightweight thermoplastic, acrylic, and silicon will have similar roofing lifespans.
Factors Affecting Your Roof’s Lifespan
Although the estimates of roof life expectancies listed above are fairly accurate, there are still many contributing factors that can ultimately affect your roof and lower its lifespan, even when you install the most durable materials on your home. Here are a few examples of what could be affecting your roof life expectancy:
Climate and Weather Conditions
Where you live will have a huge impact on how long your roof lasts. For those who live by the coast, rainy and wet hurricane seasons will usher in water damage issues much earlier than expected, while homeowners who live in places like Tornado Alley probably already have intense amounts of specialized homeowners insurance coverage.
This is why it’s so crucial to sit down with your roofing contractors and determine the best type of roofing material for both your budget and your home’s location.
Venting & Insulation
Another area where homeowners try to cut corners is roof insulation and vents, but this is unwise. Ventilation and insulation are crucial to combating water damage, ice dams, and premature deterioration of your roofing materials, so make sure you have adequate amounts of each during your initial roofing installation or roof replacement.
While you’re at it, keep an eye on the entire roof installation, in general, to ensure everything is going smoothly and as planned. Improper installation will not only void your insurance coverage but also leave you with even worse issues, like roof leaks, low energy efficiency, missing shingles, and more.
The good news is, you can avoid this headache by hiring a quality roofing contractor like The Heartland Builders to ensure your roof is properly installed.
Maintenance & Upkeep
Your homeowners insurance may also be voided if you fail to properly maintain your roof. Regular upkeep of your roof is only one aspect of a homeowner’s responsibility, so you don’t want to slack when it comes to inspecting your roof and making roof repairs as needed.
Of course, as we discussed above, no two roofing materials are created equal, and you might experience more issues with one type of roofing over another. Metal roofs and slate should last nearly a lifetime, while asphalt shingles and other less durable options are more susceptible to damage and might need to be replaced faster than expected.
If you don’t want to spend more time completing a second roof replacement or extensive repairs, consider investing in a more durable roofing material so that you can avoid further issues in the future.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Roof
Many factors might contribute to the degradation of your roof, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With modern roofing materials being manufactured to last decades, you don’t want to make a bad investment. Instead, ask the professionals at The Heartland Builders how to get the most out of your new roof and work with us to ensure it’s built to last!
Contact us now to schedule your consultation and get a free quote for storm damage repairs, replacements, or a professional installation on your new build. We have all of your roofing needs covered.