How long does a roof last? This is an important question because a solid roof is fundamental to the integrity of your home and if a roof is not replaced when necessary, you can end up with many other costs besides paying for a new one.
The lifespan of your roof will depend on what it’s made of, what the conditions are where you live and how well it was installed in the first place, factors that could shorten its lifespan. We’ll also tell you how to tell if it’s time to replace it.
Just scroll down for the answers to all your rooftop life expectancy questions and check out our expert guide for everything you need to know about home renovation.
How often does a roof have to be replaced?
Let’s start with the good news. Roofs generally have a good long life. The other side of the coin, of course, is that the roof of your house has been in place for many years.
The life expectancy of a roof varies depending on the material from which it was made. Here’s what you need to know for each type.
How long do asphalt shingles last?
In the United States, asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material. They are expected to last between 15 and 25 years, but keep in mind that there are different types of asphalt shingles.
The cheapest three-tab asphalt shingles are likely to last around 15 to 20 years. Architectural or dimensional shingles are more expensive, but they could last up to around 25 years and withstand more weather conditions. The most expensive premium versions could last up to 30 years and withstand the highest maximum wind suction.
How long do wood shakes and clapboards last?
The lifespan of a roof made of wood can be up to 30 or 40 years, depending on the type of wood. Cedar wood is often used because it is resistant to both rot and insects.
To achieve the longest possible service life, a wooden roof needs regular maintenance, including cleaning and staining.
How long do clay and concrete roof tiles last?
Clay roof tiles can offer a long lifespan of 50 to 100 years, while concrete – which costs less – offers a lifespan of 40 to 75 years, so both are very durable.
How long do slate roof tiles last?
Slate tiles are another roofing material with a long lifespan. We are talking about periods of around 50 to 100 years.
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The life expectancy of a metal roof depends on the type of metal used. Copper or zinc roofs, as well as other high quality metals, can last for more than 50 years and even 100 years, and while expensive to assemble, the investment will pay off.
The cheapest metal roof consists of ribbed plates, which can be expected to have a service life of 25 to 40 years. Standing seam metal roofs can last 50 years.
Also available are stone-coated metal tiles, which are often chosen in hurricane areas. They can last from 30 to 50 years.
How long does a thatched roof last?
The life expectancy of a thatched roof varies between 15 and over 40 years, depending on the thatched roof material. Note, however, that the ridge of a thatched roof needs to be replaced approximately every 10 years.
How do I know if my roof needs to be replaced?
You need to replace a roof after a catastrophic event like a house fire, hurricane or tornado, but even apart from such disasters, a roof needs to be replaced in a timely manner.
Signs that an asphalt shingle roof may need to be replaced include cracks, kinks, or waves. You can also lose granules that you can see in gutters.
Wood shakes and shingles can splinter or rot, show damage, or show mold or algae growth.
If you have a clay tile roof, watch out for cracks or chipping. You can also spot leaks in the attic.
Look for missing shingles from a slate roof along with cracks and check the attic for water marks.
If you have a metal roof, problems may show up in the attic, or you may see discoloration or rust.
On a thatched roof, pay attention to raised nets and obvious fastenings on the ridge, as well as ridges and depressions on the roof, as well as growth of moss and lichen.
Check your roof regularly and seek advice from a professional as to whether a repair is sufficient or a replacement is due.
How long do roofs last in the US compared to the UK?
Roofs in the US may have a shorter lifespan than the UK. The main materials used for roofing in the UK are slate, clay and concrete tile, which are materials with a longer lifespan than the most commonly used asphalt shingles in the US.
Another factor that influences the lifespan of a roof is the environmental conditions in a particular region: Strong winds, extreme temperatures and major weather events can affect the lifespan of a roof. Intense heat waves and severe hurricanes and snowstorms are not events that the UK is known for, and therefore these events will not shorten the life of roofs.
To get the longest life for your roof in the US, consider the different roofing materials in relation to the climate. “If you live in the wetter parts of the US like Florida or Louisiana, I would recommend choosing reflective metal or terracotta for the roofing material,” says Volodymyr Barabakh, co-founder and project leader of BM International Builders. “These protect the wooden frame of the roof from heat damage and offer moisture resistance.”
Phillip Ash, founder of Pro Paint Corner, advises, “Extremely hot temperatures like those in Arizona cause asphalt shingles to crack fairly quickly, but asphalt is great in colder climates. Wood is also a good choice for colder climates as it provides double the insulation than asphalt. However, if you live in a very humid place like Washington state, you’ll want to avoid wooden roof tiles. Wood is very porous and absorbs moisture, which leads to the growth of mold and algae.
“If you live in a state that is often hit by hurricanes, consider a stone-clad steel tile because it can withstand high winds.”
Professional tips for roof maintenance
Use these tips from the professional to keep your roof in good condition for longer.
“A pro tip to extending the life of your roof is to cut off any branches from surrounding trees that physically touch your roof,” said Rick Abbiati, owner of Colony Property Investments. “Even the smallest branch that touches your roof can rub a hole through the shingles, causing a water leak. With every gust of wind, this branch makes its way through the shingles. Extend the life of your roof by holding back all fauna. ‘
“Algae grow most frequently on tiled roofs,” says Mark Soto, professional roofer at Roofing MKE. “You will want to keep cleaning the roof with a combination of water and bleach. While some people use pressure washers, it is not recommended as it can actually damage the tiles. Clean them with your solution, then water them down with a hose. Since tiles are not good at dealing with people walking on them, try to do it from the edge on a ladder. ‘
“If you live in the snowiest cities in the country including Rochester, Erie, Buffalo, Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Portland, Albany, and around them, it is recommended that you build a house roof with heavy snowfalls in mind,” said Sean Chapman, professional carpenter and founder of Tools’n’Goods. “To do this, the trusses should be reinforced and wider gutters installed. However, this does not guarantee zero damage. You should still be ready to remove snow with a roof rake to avoid ice dams when it melts. Ice dams can actually damage any roof.
“Regardless of the region and type of roof, you should also regularly clean gutters and ventilation to avoid blockages.”