When it comes to expenses related to maintaining your home, replacing your roof is one of the highest. That’s why every homeowner should want 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 usually, “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. The experts at RoofCrafters have nearly 3 decades of combined experience, and we’ve worked on alot of roofs. We can be the first to vouch that no roof is alike.
All of this being said, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering how long your roof is going to last you. Although it’d be simpler to hit you with the “that depends”, I like proactive homeowners, so I'll give you the facts. In this article, you’ll learn about the different variables that affect the longevity of your roof, and some signs it’s time to replace it. Let’s get started!
What Kind of Roof Do You Have?
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.
Asphalt and Architectural Shingles
If you buy a new home, chances are it’s covered with asphalt shingles, which are the least expensive 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 asphalt and architectural shingles are made of the same material, the 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.
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.
When most people think of metal roofs, they assume that they’re expensive and noisy. This assumption holds little truth since standing-seam aluminum panels cost slightly 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 roof and a metal roof is only 5-10 decibels. However, the difference in the 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.
Should I Maintain My Roof?
For the most part, roofs are 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 roofs age, they become 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.
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 can roofs. Some of the signs that your roof is on its last legs are readily apparent:
Missing shingles. Missing, bent or broken shingles are one sign of age.
Rot or soft spots on the roof may indicate water intrusion or a compromised underlayment.
Signs of moss or mold shouldn’t be ignored, since they can force shingles apart. They also speed up the process of rot.
Gaps in the flashing or cracks in the caulking. These will inevitably result in leaks and/or mold.
Leaks in the attic and/or a sagging roofline can indicate rotted roof timbers that can compromise the structural integrity of your home.
In the end, it all comes down to the type and quality of materials used, weather conditions, frequency of roof repairs, and the quality of roofing services provided to you. It’s super important to make sure that you’re taking proper care of your roof. Remember, if you take care of your roof, it will take care of you.
If you have any further concerns related to a roof’s lifespan, want to know more about the materials used on your roof installation, or just have a few questions, drop us a line on our website and we’d be happy to help in any way we can. If you have noticed any of the signs that your roof may be in need of maintenance, check out our article, “What Causes Roof Leaks?” to get a better understanding of what could potentially be causing your roofing problem.
My name is Kevin Mills, and I am the lead estimator for RoofCrafters’ Tampa division. I’m originally from Michigan, and I enjoy hunting, fishing, and spending any free time outdoors. What I’m most passionate about, though, is helping business owners and homeowners alike achieve their roofing goals, all while providing a seamless customer journey.