How Long Does a Roof Last?: The Basics of Roof Lifespan

How Long is a Roof Good For? It All Depends…



When it comes to the subject of roof lifespan there are a number of different factors that come into play. From the materials used in the roof and the last time they were replaced or repaired, all the way to the area you live in and the weather that your home will be up against throughout its life. Understanding the average life of a roof with these external elements factored in is a great way to prepare yourself both mentally and monetarily for the inevitable repairs that come with being a homeowner.

We’ve put together this guide on roof life expectancy, so you can contextualize the roof of your own home, and plan for the future accordingly.


Roof Lifespan: Is There an Average Roof Life?

Considering how much punishment roofs can take from the elements, you might be surprised to read that they generally will last a fairly long time. However, this period could also be as long as a piece of string, with roof life spans ranging from 20-100 years depending on materials. Along with this fact, you could move into a house near the end of this period, meaning that your roof will be needing major repairs or a full replacement fairly soon.

What are the Different Roof Materials?

When asking “how long should a roof last?” one of the key factors is the materials that were used in its construction, with each having its own benefits, drawbacks, and indeed lifespan.

The most common forms of roofing materials in the US include:

● Asphalt Shingles - 3-Tab and Architectural

● Concrete, Clay, and Slate Tiles

● Wood Shakes/Shingles

● Metal - Ribbed Panels or Standing Seam

Each of these options comes at a different cost, in terms of both raw materials and installation fees, but with that cost, you may well also be investing in a much longer-lasting roof.

Environmental Factors of Roof Lifespan

Along with the materials that make up your roof, you need to consider the environment of the area that you live in. Some parts of the US suffer from far more intense weather conditions than others, which undoubtedly has an effect on the lasting power of the roofs in that area. Along with this, you also have to consider how the material of your roof will respond to said weather conditions.



Wind

The wind is one of the most common causes of roof damage, both in and of itself and with the flying debris that it can carry with it. Heavy winds can get under shingles and tiles, causing them to lift up, revealing cracks in the roof and displacing things.

Along with this, particularly fast winds can carry pieces of trees and man-made structures with them, which could cause more fast and direct damage to a roof. If you live in Dodge City, Kansas, the windiest city in the US, that’s definitely something to think about when choosing a home or replacing the roof.

The best roofing materials for combatting high-speed winds are:

● Metal

● Concrete or Clay Tiles

● Architectural Asphalt Shingles



Water Damage: Rain, Snow, & Condensation

Water damage is another environmental factor that can be a major cause of damage to roofing materials. The most obvious causes of water damage are of course rain and snow, and living in one of the wetter areas of the US will certainly have some impact on the lifespan on a roof.

Other than rain and snow, your roof could sustain water damage from condensation caused by both poor ventilation and insulation. If you live in a cold area and keep your house nice and toasty all year round without proper ventilation and insulation, it could inspire dramatic levels of condensation, which could then turn into water damage and rot.

The best materials for withstanding rainfall are:

● Metal

● Asphalt Shingles

● Slate Tiles



Hail Damage

You may think of hail as a less common cause of damage to roofs and properties in general, but 1.5 million homes were affected by hail damage in Texas alone in 2021. This shows that the middle sibling between rain and snow is a force to be reckoned with in itself.

While much of this damage can take the form of cracked windows and skylights, particularly heavy bouts of hail could also cause holes, dents, and punctures to form in your roof. While the hailstones you’re familiar with may only be around the size of a pea, you could also be in an area where the hailstones can be as large as golf, or even softballs.

The best materials against hail are:

● Metal

● Asphalt Shingles (ideally hail-resistant)

● Slate Tiles


Quality of Roof Build

Another massive factor in the lifespan of your roof is how well it was installed. You could have the strongest possible materials making up your home’s roof, but if it’s laid down by a shoddy craftsman then there’s no telling how long it will take before you’ll need repairs or a full replacement.

Before you hire someone to work on your roof, make sure to vet their reputation in the local community, as picking the wrong contractor could cost you thousands.


How Long Does a Shingle Roof Last?

We’ve established that they’re a good choice for most weather conditions, but how long do asphalt shingles last? The truth of the answer depends on which type of asphalt shingles you go for.



3-tab shingles are the cheaper form of asphalt shingles, capable of withstanding winds of up to 60-70mph, and made with a single layer of fiberglass and granules. They have an average life expectancy of around 10-25 years.

On the other hand, we have architectural shingles, which double up on fiberglass with an extra-strong adhesive holding them together. They’re around 50% heavier, with around double the wind resistance, and lifespans of around 30-50 years if cared for properly. Despite costing more as a material, they’re actually cheaper to install than the 3-tab variety, making them a better investment for a longer-lasting roof.



How Long Do Metal Roofs Last?

Metal is one of the less attractive roofing materials in the eyes of many homeowners, but it can also be the strongest and longest lasting. In some cases, if made from premium metals like zinc or copper, a roof could last anywhere between 50-100 years, which is as long as almost any homeowner could need.

Along with the type of metal used, the style of the metal roof also plays into the lifespan. The cheapest metal roofs, namely ribbed panels generally last between 25 and 40 years, while standing seam metal roofing will usually last longer.



How Long do Tile Roofs Last?

When it comes to tiles, there are three main materials that are used in roofing, namely concrete, clay, and slate, each coming with its own connotation to do with lifespan.



Slate Roof Tiles

Slate roof tiles are considered by many to be one of the most attractive forms of roofing materials, which is matched by impressive durability. Along with being one of the best-suited choices for harsher weather conditions, slate tiles are known to last between 50-100 years.



Clay Roof Tiles

Clay roof tiles are comparable to their slate cousins in terms of booth desirability and durability. They’re a highly sought-after and fairly expensive choice that are actually more common in the UK, and they’ll generally last between 50 and 100 years.



Concrete Roof Tiles

If you want the textured, old-fashioned visual effect of clay roof tiles, but have slightly less money in your budget then concrete roof tiles are a great alternative. Although you should note that with that lower price tag, their lifespan will only land somewhere between 40 and 75 years.


Final Thoughts

So if you’re wondering how long a roof is going to last you then there are a few questions you need to ask yourself, the person you bought/are buying the property from, and your preferred roofer. Firstly, ask the former owner when the roof was last replaced. Secondly, ask yourself what kind of weather you’ll be encountering in your area. Finally, ask your roofer what they’d recommend.

You don’t have to be an expert, but having some awareness of materials and circumstances will make the process of repairs, replacements, and even upgrades much smoother. If you want to learn more about roofing or have some roofing work done by well-respected industry experts, check out our website today!