How Long Should a Roof Last?

When it comes to expenses related to maintaining your home, replacing your roof is the highest.  That’s why every homeowner wants to get as much life out of their roof as possible. One of the questions that roofers like me get asked frequently is, “How long should my roof last?”  My answer is invariably, “That depends.”  What most people don’t realize is that all roofs are not created equal.  By that, I mean that when it comes to the life expectancy of a roof, there are a number of variables that have to be considered.


1.      What kind of roof does your home have? – There are four basic types of roof currently available are asphalt, tile, slate and metal.  Depending on the type of material, used, there is a huge difference between their expected lifetimes.  While asphalt roof systems have an expected lifetime of between 15-25 years, architectural shingles can last 25-35 years.  However, this pales in comparison to a clay tile roof that typically lasts between 35-50 years.  Metal roofs can last for 50-70 years or more, depending on the kind of metal used in their construction. Slate roofs can last for a century. The chief differences between them are price and weight.  

  1. Asphalt or architectural shingles? – If you buy a new home, chances are it’s covered with asphalt shingles which are the least inexpensive type of roof covering available today.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since asphalt shingles are inexpensive to install and maintain.  They’re also simple to replace when they’re damaged or displaced.  While both they and architectural shingles are made of the same material, the chief difference between the two is their density.  Architectural shingles are as much as three times denser than standard asphalt shingles.  That’s why they have longer manufacturer warranties and are considered more attractive than typical asphalt varieties.  That’s also why architectural shingles are well worth considering when it comes time to redo your roof, 
  2. Can clay make your day? – Clay tiles are extremely durable, require little to no maintenance and are long lasting.  They’re also more than twice the price of architectural shingles and weigh significantly more than their asphalt counterparts.  This is one reason why you normally only see them on premium homes near or on the beach.  It takes a substantial structure to handle the weight of clay or slate roofs.    

Should you put the pedal to the metal? – When most people think of metal roofs, they assume that they’re expensive and noisy.  This assumption holds little water, since standing-seam aluminum panels cost little more than architectural shingles and the pitter-patter of rain on a metal roof is abated by the underlayment that’s applied below the roof panels to mitigate noise.  Adding insulation to the attic reduces the noise even more.  The difference in sound between an asphalt and a metal roof is only 5-10 decibels.  However, the difference in durability of metal roofs can be 2-3 times as long when compared with asphalt roof systems.  Metal roofs also require little maintenance and are designed to shrug off high wind and torrential rain.  Metal roof panels are a greener choice since they are 100% recyclable and are typically constructed of recycled metal. 

  1.    Maintenance makes a huge difference when it comes to the longevity of a roof. – Roofs are for the most part out of sight and out of mind.  Unless you find a shingle lying on your lawn or detect a growing stain on a ceiling panel, homeowners usually don’t give their home’s roof a second thought.  Perhaps they should, especially after a major storm.  While the roof is designed to shrug off wind and rain, as a roof ages it becomes more susceptible to the elements.  So too does roof flashing.  Everything from solar radiation and frost to leaf litter and tree limbs can take their toll on roofs.  By taking the time to make sure that leaf litter doesn’t accumulate on your roof, you will reduce the incidence of water intrusion and mold.  By getting up on a ladder to take a look at your roof, you’ll see wear and tear that aren’t apparent from the ground.  You can also see if any tree limbs are growing too close to the roof for comfort.  The secret to making your home’s roof last as long as possible is to make sure that minor signs of deterioration don’t become major sources of leaks.  
  1.  Signs that your roof needs to be replaced. – Just as an old car shows signs of age by requiring a lot more maintenance than a newer car, so to do roofs show their age.  Some of the signs that your roof is on its last legs are readily apparent. 
  1. Missing, bent or broken shingles are one sign of age.
  2. So too is ridge rot or soft spots on the roof which may indicate water intrusion or a compromised underlayment.
  3. Signs of moss or mold shouldn’t be ignored, since they can force shingles apart.  They also speed up the process of rot.
  4. Do you see gaps in the flashing or cracks in the caulking?  These will inevitably result in leaks and/or mold.
  5. Even worse are leaks in the attic and/or a sagging roofline which can indicate rotted roof timbers that can compromise the structural integrity of your home.

Hi, my name is Nicole Corson and I am the owner of RoofCrafters Roofing and a very blessed mother of two beautiful daughters…and a handsome dog! In 2013 I decided to pivot when I had an opportunity to take my 12 years of experience in property management, property maintenance and my passion for helping others by applying it to the roofing industry. Coming into a predominantly male industry, I am very proud to say I have created some much needed structure for all our team and an exceptional customer experience for my clients.

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