How Long Should a Roof Last?

Oct 29, 2020 | Roofing

If you own property, you should be aware of the condition of the roof looming over your family or employees’ heads.

How long should a roof last? More often than not, property owners don’t realize that their roof needs a repair until it’s too late.

Repairing or replacing a roof can be costly, so you should familiarize yourself with how long your particular roof should last, in general.

A typical asphalt shingle roof will last somewhere between 15 to 30 years before needing to be replaced. That said, there are several kinds of asphalt shingles and other roofing materials to consider during roof installation.

Next, you should consider the type and scope of your project. Are you maintaining commercial or residential property?

Keep reading to learn more about the different roofing materials to consider when questioning a particular roofing system’s life span.


Metal Roofing

A metal roof that is installed properly can last for a lifetime. They’re adaptable to roofs with steep-slopes, and with routine maintenance, they can last indefinitely.

A metal roof’s true lifespan will depend on the roof’s slope, the type of metal used, and the metal’s finish. Premium metals, such as stainless steel, zinc, titanium, and copper, are excellent commercial roofing materials, as they can last up to 70 years.


Metal Shingles

Metal roofs don’t have to be installed as sheets. You can also choose metal shingles. These shingles are normally less expensive compared to standing seam metal roofs. They offer similar longevity, durability, and wind uplift ratings.


Ribbed Metal

Ribbed metal panels are another affordable option for home roofs. Look for systems made of coated metal panels instead of acrylic, leading to discoloration and issues with peeling paint.

If you have a steeper, gable-style roof, ribbed metal panels might be a good option. When installed properly, you can expect them to last 25 to 40 years with exposed fasteners.

With concealed fasteners, a ribbed metal roofing system can last 30 to 50 years.


Stone-Coated Steel Tiles

In hurricane-prone environments, stone-coated steel tiles made of galvalume or galvanized steel are a popular option. They are durable, lightweight, and long-lasting.

A stone-coated steel tile roof can last you 30 to 50 years with the ability to withstand wind at speeds over 120 MPH.

It’s time to replace a metal roof when you notice excessive, widespread rust combined with major discoloration and peeling or chipping paint. Also, consider a replacement if you notice signs of water damage on your ceiling from excessive leaks. If the leaks can’t be solved with simple repairs, it’s time for a new roof.


Asphalt Shingles

The most common shingle option is the 3-tab shingle—it’s the least costly option for sloped roofs. This type of shingle roof will last between ten and 20 years; however, it can be much less than that depending on your climate.

These shingles are “okay” for mild climates, but they’re not suitable for storm-prone areas. They can only stand winds up to 60 to 70 MPH, so they’re vulnerable in extreme weather conditions.

Asphalt shingles can develop cracks when exposed to direct sunlight and rapid temperature changes, such as in desert climate zones and southern states. These cracks result in diminished lifespan and premature failure, making these shingles a poor commercial project option.


Dimensional or Architectural Shingles

These asphalt shingles are thicker than 3-tab and tend to last longer. A solid dimensional roof will last between 15 and 25 years, depending on the climate.

Architectural shingle roofs can withstand maximum wind uplift of 110 MPH. With roof-frame bracing, this rating can be as high as 130 MPH.


Premium Shingles

Next, we have premium shingles, which are designed for premium homes. These shingles are even thicker, resulting in a longer life-span than a mid-range architectural shingle. The expected lifespan of a roof built with premium shingles is 20 to 30 years, again, depending on climate.

The wind uplift ratings are similar to those of dimensional shingles. You can install them with special features, such as impact resistance for hail prone areas and enhanced solar reflectance.

You’ll know when it’s time to replace an asphalt roof if there are major cracks, there are a lot of sand granules missing, and the shingles start to look curled up.

If your roof has sustained significant storm damage, it’s likely time to consider a replacement even if the shingles are in seemingly good shape.


Clay and Concrete Tiles

Clay tiles are an attractive option for homes, but they’re heavy and require a custom roof frame to support their weight. They’re designed to withstand 150 MPH winds and can last anywhere from 50 to 100 years.

However, be aware that loose, missing, and cracked pieces can create a hazardous situation during high winds.


Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles are also heavy and durable. However, they’re more affordable than their clay counterparts. Their expected lifespan is a bit shorter at 40 to 75 years.

A concrete or clay tile roof should be replaced when you notice cracked or loose tiles or leaks that don’t seem to respond to simple roof repairs.


Cedar Shakes and Shingles

For beach and Cape Cod homes, cedar shakes are a common roofing option. On average, they’re designed to last 20 to 35 years.

Cedar shake wooden shingles are made from split logs and have a distinctive look, as the thickness and length of each shingle vary. Cedar shake roofs date back to the days of the first North American colonists.

With a regular maintenance routine, they can last as long as 50 years. In humid climates, the shingles can age prematurely.

Take care to check with your insurance company when considering cedar shingles, as some will charge a premium since it’s not fire retardant.

When you experience leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs or notice cracked shingles, it’s time for a replacement.


Natural Slate

While heavy and long-lasting, natural slate roofing systems are notoriously expensive. You’ll often see slate roofs exclusively on premium homes, and they can last from 50 to 100 years.

While slate roofs can endure high winds, they present the danger of sharp-edged slate flying off of your roof during a hurricane.

Natural slate also shows wear with cracks and leaking that can’t be easily patched.


Composite Shingles

Synthetic composite tiles and shingles resemble cedar shakes and natural slate tiles.

These composite shingles are light-weight, strong, and can last 50 years or longer. They’re similar in cost to standing seam metal roofs.

A composite shingle roof can resist winds up to 110 MPH and should be replaced when you notice leaks that cannot be solved with repairs.


Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) roofing systems have a rubber membrane, which allows them to last from 40 to 50 years if installed properly.

This material is remarkably durable and shows limited signs of deterioration under mild to intense conditions. EPDM is a smart option if you have a large commercial building or home with a flat roof.

EPDM roofs are usually glued or taped at the seams, which means you may have to repair leaky seams every 5 to 15 years.

It’s time to consider an EPDM roof replacement when you notice major membrane punctures or excessive leaks from failure at the seams.


PVC and TPO Membranes

PVC and TPO membranes are single-ply roofing systems that offer a more durable alternative to EPDM. Their membranes are thicker, and they have hot-air welded seams, which forms a permanent bond at the seams.

For these reasons, PCV and TPO roofing systems can last twice as long as those built with EPDM rubber.

If your building is located within a hurricane zone, consider opting for a fully-adhered single-ply membrane instead of a mechanically-attached one.

If you have a PVC or TPO membrane roof that’s nearing thirty-years-old, have it inspected for loss of membrane thickness (or hot air weldability). Also, look out for major roof damage or cuts from fallen trees, or untraceable leaks.


How Long Should a Roof Last?

The condition and longevity of your property’s roof are of utmost importance, regardless of whether you’re planning to sell your property any time soon.

So, how long should a roof last? As you now know, this depends on the quality of the installation, materials used, your environment, and any major storms that may occur during the roof’s lifetime.

Get the most out of your roof by performing regular inspections and proper maintenance—preferably by an experienced roofing contractor. If you find a leak that can’t be easily repaired, lots of curled, broken, or missing shingles, or other severe damage, it may be time for a replacement.

Signature Roofing experts bring decades of experience in providing expertise to every roofing job they do—big or small. We offer residential roofing and commercial roofing services, including minor repairs, re-roofing, inspections, maintenance, and new construction.

Take a look at our recent projects, and if you’re interested in our services or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us to see what we can do for you!