How long do roofs last? 5 roof types and their lifespans

The age of your roof is a great way to determine if it’s time for a roof replacement. Image source: Advantage Roofing

Catherine Lane

By Catherine Lane

October 22, 2020

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Whether you’re buying a new home or you’re planning on staying put in your current house, you probably have an idea of the condition of your roof. But, it can be hard for homeowners to gauge exactly when they should get a roof replacement.

In this article, we discuss 5 different types of roofs, how long each different roof type lasts, and what signs to look out for when your roof needs to be replaced.

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How long does a roof last?

One of the key factors that determine if you need a new roof is age. Now, we all know roofs don’t last forever, but homeowners may be asking themselves: how long does a roof last?

Generally, you can expect your roof to last about 30 years. But, the actual lifespan of your roof depends on a number of things, including the type of roofing materials that were used as well as the environment.

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What factors impact how long your roof lasts?

  • Quality of the installation workmanship - A poor quality installation will shorten your roof’s lifespan.
  • Environmental conditions - Exposure to high winds, extreme temperatures, and falling debris can decrease how long your roof lasts.
  • The quality of materials used - Cheaper materials won’t cost as much upfront but will have to be replaced more often than other expensive roofing materials.
  • The type of roofing material used - Each roofing material has different durability, making them last longer or shorter in different conditions.

While there are several factors that impact how long your roof lasts, your roof's lifespan most heavily depends on the materials used. Let's take a closer look at the various roof types and how long each of them lasts.

Different roof types and how long they last

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material in the United States because they are affordable, durable, and include warranties of up to 25 years. Made of fiberglass and asphalt sealant, asphalt shingles can effectively protect your roof structure from snow, wind, rain, and harsh UV rays.

Most asphalt shingle roofs will last between 15 and 30 years. However, this can vary based on the climate and weather conditions of where you live. For example, asphalt shingles won’t last as long in Arizona, because the dramatic temperature changes will cause the shingles to crack.

Asphalt shingles

Curling is a tell-tale sign that an asphalt shingle roof is approaching the end of its lifetime. Image source: Vertex Roofing Contractors

The type of asphalt shingle roof will also influence how long your roof will last.

  • 3-tab shingles typically last between 15 and 20 years. They are the cheapest asphalt shingle option.
  • Architectural shingles, or dimensional shingles, have a longer lifespan of 20 to 30 years. However, architectural shingles do come at a higher price tag.
  • Premium shingles can last between 25 and 40 years and have the highest price.

When your asphalt shingles start to reach between 15 and 20 years in age, or if your roof has experienced storm damage, you should consider a roof inspection to determine if you need a replacement.

Signs you need an asphalt roof replacement: Cracked shingles, curling, and/or mineral granules from the shingles in your gutters.

Metal roofing

A metal roof can last anywhere between 40 and 70 years with warranties from 20 years to a lifetime, depending on the type of metal and the design of the roof. Metal roofs made of premium metals like copper and zinc can sometimes last for over 100 years!

Metal roofing

Metal roofing is extremely durable, especially when premium metals are used. Image source: Powell’s Roofing & Siding

There are a few different types of metal roofing, and each one offers a different lifespan.

  • Stand seam metal roofing, the most common type of residential metal roof, has a lifespan of 50 years and can withstand winds over 100 miles per hour.
  • Ribbed metal panels are cheaper to install than standing seam roofing, but they only last between 25 and 50 years.
  • Stone-coated steel tiles are popular in areas prone to hurricanes, like Florida. This type of metal roof lasts between 30 and 50 years and can withstand wind speeds up to 155 miles per hour.

Signs you need a metal roof replacement: Widespread rust, discoloration, roof leak damage, water staining in the attic, and/or mold.

Wood shakes and shingles

Usually, a wooden shingle roof lasts for about 30 years with warranties that run up to 30 years. In order for wood shingles and shake roofs to last, however, you need to perform regular maintenance. Wooden roof upkeep includes yearly cleanings, as well as repainting or staining every 5 years.

Wooden shingles

Wooden shakes can last for decades if properly maintained. Image source: Westshore Roofing

The type of wood that you use will also determine how long the roof will last. Cedar shakes, for example, last longer than other types of wooden shingles because cedar is rot and insect-resistant. Cedar shakes are also able to withstand winds up to 245 miles per hour, which makes them a popular type of roofing material for coastal homes.

Signs you need a wooden roof replacement: Splitting shingles, rotting shingles, pest damage, mold, and/or algae growth.

Clay tile roof

Clay tile roofs are extremely durable and can last anywhere between 50 to 100 years, and manufacturers offer warranties anywhere from 30 years to a lifetime! The life expectancy of clay tile roofs is so long because tiles are weather, rot, and fire-resistant.

To ensure that your clay tile roof lasts as long as possible, it’s important to properly clean your roof. If a clay tile roof isn’t regularly cleaned, algae, moss, and mold can accumulate. Moss is the most dangerous, as its roots can penetrate the tiles, ultimately causing roof leaks.

Clay tiles

Clay tile roofing looks great and could last a lifetime! Image source: RoofClaim

Clay tile roofs won’t last as long in colder climates, as constant freezing and thawing can easily damage the tiles. However, you can have your clay tiles sealed to help prevent cold weather impacts.

Signs you need a clay tile roof replacement: Cracked tiles, chipped tiles, pieces of tile in gutters, roof leaks, and/or water staining in the attic.

Slate tile roof

Slate roofs have one of the longest life expectancies of any roofing material, ranging from 75 to 200 years. Slate tile manufacturers offer warranties ranging anywhere from 50 years to a lifetime. Slate holds up great to extreme weather conditions, like high winds or changing temperatures. It also doesn’t require much maintenance, as slate retains almost no moisture.

Slate tiles

Slate is one of the longest-lasting roofing materials and it requires very little maintenance. Image source: Black Diamond Slate

Keep in mind that slate is extremely heavy - 100 square feet of slate will weigh around 1,000 pounds. Before installing a slate roof, you need to have your roofing system inspected to make sure it can withstand that weight.

Signs you need a slate tile roof replacement: Missing shingles, cracked shingles, and/or water damage in the attic.

Increase your roof lifespan with regular roof maintenance

The key to having a long-lasting roof is to schedule regular roof maintenance and inspections performed by roofing contractors. By identifying issues early and performing roof repairs, you can extend your roof’s lifespan with these small home improvements.

If it is time for you to consider a new roof, get in contact with local roofing contractors to receive multiple quotes on the cost of a replacement. With a trusted roofer on your side, you’re sure to have a long-lasting roof that will shelter you for years to come.

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