How Long Does a Roof Last: Average Life by Material
February 16, 2023
Where you live can be a contributing factor to the roofing material you choose, and the life of your roof depends on more than just what you decide to build it from.
But we do know that each type of roof material offers pros and cons and varying lifespans, so when it’s time for a roof replacement, you’ll need to decide what will work best for you. Professional roofing contractors can help you make your decision, but you can also make some determinations on your own.
So how long does a roof last? Roofing materials will affect the answer, so let’s see what’s commonly out there and available.
Materials and Your Roof’s Lifespan
Since every choice has its ups and downs, we’ll list the materials alphabetically.
Asphalt Roll: 5 to 10 Years
Perhaps the least expensive choice for a new roof (at least in the short term) is the asphalt roll. It’s just what it sounds like—a roll of asphalt you unfurl over the roof area. It’s applied with heat, and it’s often a choice for commercial buildings or multi-unit housing complexes.
On the one hand, it’s inexpensive. On the other, you’ll replace it much more often than any other roof type. And the 5- to 10-year estimate presumes your roof suffers no appreciable damage over that time. It’s also not the most attractive roof you’ll ever see. But an asphalt roof goes on quickly and might do in a pinch, even if you don’t love its looks.
Asphalt Shingles: 10 to 30 Years
As the most common roofing choice, asphalt shingles now come in a plethora of varieties, and continued work on developing them over the years means they can come with a warranty for as long as 25 years. With regular roof maintenance and precious few hailstorms, you can exceed even that period.
This roofing material is popular because it’s affordable, durable, and easy to install. And asphalt shingle roofs look nice. You have choices between organic and fiberglass shingles and three-tab or architectural shingles, which are layered, thicker, and provide a slightly different look from the three-tab asphalt shingles, as they provide more texture to the roof’s appearance.
Built-up Roof: 20 to 30 Years
The built-up roof, most often used on flat roofs, consists of layers of fabrics and asphalt (all treated for waterproofing) topped off with gravel. This roof can be made to last longer with a fabric-reinforced roofing system.
Proper maintenance can help your roof last as long as asphalt shingles. And business-district buildings with flat roofs just aren’t conducive to having any type of shingle.
Clay or Concrete Tiles: 50 to 100 Years
We group these two durable materials because, while many clay tiles are made from clay, many others are manufactured from concrete, but we still call them clay. If you’ve seen homes in the Southwest with terra cotta-colored roofs, you’ve seen clay tile roofs before.
Provided nothing disastrous happens and an experienced contractor installs, a clay or concrete roof can be the last roof you ever put on your home.
On the other hand, the roofing tiles are expensive, and installation is more involved than laying down some three-tab shingles.
Composite Shingles: 15 to 40 Years
Made mostly of fiberglass and recycled materials, composite shingles constitute a newer roofing material. They are extremely durable and are rated for high impact. This makes them ideal for homes located in places with extreme weather, specifically hail.
It’s also much easier to walk on a composite shingle roof without worrying about damaging or breaking individual shingles, which could lead to roof leaks and other issues.
Metal: 70 Years
Like asphalt shingles, a metal roof offers many color, style, and overall appearance options. However, metal roof tiles are not the same as standing-seam metal roofing materials, which we’ll cover shortly.
Because of the different styles available, metal roofing can vary widely in cost, but they are highly durable. In addition, they are not susceptible to rot or other organic damage.
Slate: 100 Years or More
Slate tile manufacturers make the roofing material from natural rock. That means there’s almost no chance that a weather event can damage them. For slate roofs to enjoy their long life expectancy, regular roof maintenance is recommended.
On the off chance that a slate roofing tile breaks, replacement is easy. While slate tiles can be expensive and must be installed by an experienced roofing contractor, your roof can last a lifetime.
Standing-seam Metal: 30 to 50 Years
This distinctive-looking roof has ribs—standing seams—that run across the top. It doesn’t look exactly like a typical residential roof. Like the metal tiles, standing-seam metal roofs are highly durable and resistant to impact damage, though large enough hail can cause dents that can lead to further damage over time.
The material comes in panels rather than individual tiles and is available in aluminum, an aluminum/zinc-coated alloy, copper, and coated steel. These long-lasting roof materials contribute to a standing-seam roof’s longevity.
Wood Shake: 35 to 40 Years
Wood shakes are cut from cedar, and while they are cut smooth for the bottom of the shake, the top is left uncut. This gives a shake roof a textured appearance and little uniformity. After all, pieces of wood have different grain patterns and such.
Wood shakes are treated to be fire-resistant, and the wood they’re made from is rot-resistant, but in the end, they’re still made of wood. As such, they are, no matter how durable, more susceptible to damage than metal or other man-made materials.
Wood Shingle: 25 to 30 Years
Like wood shakes, wood shingles are cut from cedar or other decay-resistant wood. The difference is that they are cut smooth on the top and bottom. This difference creates a choice for your roof.
- Wood shakes are more expensive since, with a thicker shingle, you’re paying for more material.
- A wood shingle roof provides a more uniform and less-rugged look to your home.
- Wooden shingles are more easily installed than wood shakes.
- Both will weather nicely, fading in a few months to a greyish color.
Reach Out to Roof X
If you’re ready for a roof replacement, need to talk with someone about deciding which roof is right for you, or have concerns about your existing roof, we’re ready to help. Contact us at Roof X, and we can help you choose the best roof for your needs, install it, and help you with all of your roofing needs.