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How Long Does a Roof Last? Factors, Lifespan & Types

House Roof

If it has been a while since you bought your home or had your roof replaced, you might start wondering how much time you have left. Roofs are very important features of a home, and they can be very expensive to replace when it comes time to do so. If you haven’t had your roof replaced in a long time, you are probably asking yourself how long a roof can last.

The average roof lasts roughly 25 years, but that number is not universal. Many things can impact the life of a roof, including the type and the climate. Let’s take a closer look.

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Average Lifespan

The most common type of roof in America is the standard asphalt shingle roof. The lifespan of these roofs depends on the climate and the type of shingle used during construction. Most shingles have a 25- or 30-year warranty. In some climates, shingle roofs are only expected to last 15 years. However, the average lifespan of a shingle roof is typically pegged at 25 years. This is the number that realtors, insurance agents, and contractors will have in their minds when evaluating a shingle roof.

Dome shaped solar tubes on the roof
Image Credit: Lost_in_the_Midwest, Shutterstock

Lifespans of Different Types of Roofing

The most common type of roof is the standard asphalt shingle. Since they are the most numerous type of roof many contractors and insurance companies base the lifespan of a roof on the basic asphalt shingle. However, there are multiple different kinds of roofing materials that have wildly different lifespans. Some roofs can even last upwards of 100 years under the right conditions. Here are some typical lifespan ranges for different types of roofs.

1. Shingle

As we discussed, asphalt shingles typically last 25 years. But there are other types of shingles available on the market as well. There are cedar shakes and cedar shingles that are made from pure cedarwood. These shingles are often found in the Caribbean or along the coast. They are extremely expensive, but they are resistant to sunlight, bugs, rot, and wind. A well-built cedar shingle roof can withstand winds in excess of 200 MPH. In the right conditions, a cedar shingle roof can last 50 to 100 years.

2. Metal

Metal roofs are a very popular choice of roofing material in some areas. Metal roofs have the benefit of being immune to rot and curling that can occur with a typical shingle roof. Metal roofs can last anywhere from 30 to 50 years. However, there are also specialty copper roofs that are coated and designed to last up to 100 years. Metal roofs are seamless and do not have individual shingles or tiles to worry about, which means they will last longer under the right conditions than other materials.

man painting metal roof
Image Credit: tkemot, Shutterstock

3. Clay and Slate

The last type of roof is a clay tile or slate tile roof. These roofs are made from stone materials rather than metal or asphalt. Clay and slate are very heavy, but they can last a lifetime. Clay tiles can last up to 100 years. Sometimes individual clay tiles will fall off and break, but the entire roof system is very durable. Slate tiles can last even longer. There are some examples of old slate tile roofs lasting 200 years. Rock and stone do not degrade like other common materials, so these roofs are highly resistant to weathering.

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Factors That Affect Roof Longevity

The actual lifespan of a roof can be impacted by many external factors. Weather is the most common factor that influences the overall health of a roof. This is especially true of severe weather.

Severe weather is one of the most common causes of premature roof failure. In northern climates, heavy snow and ice can degrade a roof’s integrity, especially if it occurs year after year. In the south, hurricanes and severe thunderstorms have a similar effect. A brand-new roof can be quickly torn off or damaged by severe weather. If you live in an area where extreme weather is common, then the life of your roof will likely be lower than that of a home in an area with few extreme weather incidents.

Direct sunlight also can alter a roof’s lifespan. If you live in a sunny area where your roof gets a ton of direct heat and light, it could wear down the lifespan of the roof. Even a little shade can protect vulnerable shingles from extreme temperatures and UV light from the sun. These things can wear down shingles over time.

house with solar panels on the roof
Image Credit: NxTide, Pixabay

Don’t Forget About Insurance

Home insurance can play a big factor in the lifespan of a roof. Sometimes, home insurance companies will not cover a roof if it is over a certain age. Anyone with a mortgage needs homeowners insurance, and your roof could affect your ability to get coverage. If you can’t get home insurance or if your costs are higher than average, you might be pressured into getting a new roof put on. For example, in Florida, some companies are dropping homeowners whose roofs are older than ten years old if they refuse to get them replaced.

Even if a roof still has some tread left on the tire, home insurance can influence when the roof needs to get replaced, unrelated to the actual condition of the roof. This is something to consider when considering the lifespan of a typical roof.

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If your roof is over 25 years old, it is probably time to start saving and making a plan for a new roof. Unless you have a well-cared-for tile roof or newer metal roof, you are likely coming to the end of the line for your current one. All roofs go bad eventually. Knowing how long your roof is likely to last will help you plan and stay ahead of the curve for roof replacement and insurance purposes.

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Featured Image Credit: sailormn34, Pixabay


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