Freeman Exteriors

How Long Does a Roof Last? The Lifespan Explained

Modern House with Multiple Roof Lines

Some types of roofing will last more than 200 years, while others will need to be replaced before your children are out of high school. 

So answering the query, “How long does a roof last?” depends on what it is made of and where your home is located. 

Clay tiles will not work in cold New England, and you might as well be roofing with playing cards if you lay asphalt shingles down in a hurricane zone.

For the most part, though, you can count on your roof to last you a good amount of time on top of your home, unless you are careless and match the absolute worst roofing material with your environment.

In the following article, we’ll break down your roof lifespan depending on where you live and what you use. 

Factors to Consider

We’ll be exploring the different types of roofing in depth later, but for now, let’s suffice it to say that your home is only as durable to the elements as the material it is made of. 

Whatever the material your roof is made out of, however, there are still a few more factors that need to be understood.

In addition to the material, there is the underlayment, the ventilation, and the installation. If any of these elements are inadequate, then you could face a serious problem with the elements seeping into your home. 

The underlayment is a waterproof barrier installed over your roof decking. Roof decking is usually made of plywood. A quality underlayment is a great investment because it’ll protect against heat, cold, and moisture, which will add years to your roof’s life. 

Ventilation Is Key

Ventilation is also an important factor in determining the longevity of your roof. Proper ventilation guarantees that your roof maintains an adequate temperature in both the summer and winter. 

A properly ventilated roof will ensure that there will be no ice dams or snowmelt in the winter. It will also help cut down on excessive heat and moisture build-up in the summer. If the wood of your roof is constantly exposed to moisture due to poor ventilation, then rot could set in.

Rot is a leading cause of roof replacements after old age, storm damage, and tree strikes. 

Check Your Roofer

The ability of your roofer to properly install the material you’ve chosen for your roof is of tantamount importance.

When selecting a roofer or replacing a roof, make sure they have legitimate references and give you a warranty estimate that coincides with the estimated lifespan of the materials.  Check online reviews of the roofer and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. 

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles have been a popular choice for 100 years. They are easy to manufacture, relatively inexpensive, and are fire retardant.  Three-tab shingles are the cheapest variety of asphalt shingles and only last about 18 years. 

Architectural asphalt shingles are heavier and will last upwards of 25 to 30 years depending on the environment and if the roof is properly vented. 

If you live in an area where you experience high winds and destructive storms, you may well want to consider a different roofing choice. You’ll find asphalt shingles will become dislodged in hurricane-force winds or heavy hail. 

Clay Tiles

Earthenware roofs are one of the world’s oldest roofing materials and they are still popular today. Clay tiles are perfect for areas with a hot climate or that experience extreme storms since they deflect the sun’s heat and will stay in place even in 150 mph winds. 

These tiles are low-maintenance and will last from 50 to 100 years, likely longer than you will own your home. 

However, you’ll need proper support to carry the extra weight. If you live in a cold climate, clay tiles might not be the right fit because ice can crack and damage the material

Metal Roofing

The aluminum and zinc that metal roofs are made from are readily available, making the product less expensive than similar products with just as long a life span.

And while metal roofs may seem like a modern choice, these roofs started to be installed in the 1800s. Metal roofs come in two basic styles: shingles and panels. You can select almost any color for these roofs, which makes them great for curb appeal.

Metal roofs are low-maintenance and will last up to about 80 years. 

The drawbacks to these roofs are twofold. You may need to soundproof them because they can generate a lot of noise in a rainstorm, and you need to make sure your installer has experience. Metal roofs are notoriously tricky to install, especially the panel variety. 

Cedar Shingles and Shakes

For a rugged, natural look, many people chose cedar shingles and shake for their roofs. This all-natural product is perfect for climates where they don’t experience extremes in moisture or heat. Cedar shingles can rot if exposed to too much water or dry and crack in too much dry heat.

Also, cedar shake comes in various grains — the straighter the grain, the more expensive the roof, and the better quality of the shingle. 

However, a well-maintained, properly installed cedar-shingled roof can last between 30 and 50 years before needing replacement. 

Slate Roofs

One of the oldest and most expensive styles of roofing is a slate shingle roof. This stylish and long-lived roofing material once could only be afforded by the most wealthy of the aristocracy. 

You will find some slate roofs lasting for more than 200 years. Today, the material has come down in price due to improved mining and manufacturing techniques. Still, a slate roof is one of the more expensive choices out there.

However, the roofs are beautiful, impervious to heat, rain, and wind. Also, a slate roof has a life expectancy of more than 150 years. As long as your frames can handle the weight and you can afford the price, a slate roof is a great choice. 

Solar Shingles

One of the newest types of roofing material is solar shingles. This product not only protects your home from the elements but generates electric power from the sun. 

However, this product has yet to reach its true potential as the panels need specialty installers and last only about 20 to 30 years. 

Also, the technology behind solar shingles keep developing, so you can find yourself with an out-of-date product only a few years after installation. 

So How Long Does a Roof Last? It Depends

As you can see, there are several factors to weigh when determining how long does a roof last. Your best bet on deciding on the right roof is for you to make a checklist of what aspects you want and compare it with your budget.

Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert to talk the matter over. A professional roofing installer can help you get the right roof that fits your needs.

Are you ready to speak to a professional or have more questions about different roofing materials? Contact us today to get started. 


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