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Decoding Lifetime Asphalt Shingle Roof Warranties: Your Guide to Long-Term Roof Protection

November , 2023 | 11 min. read

By Kevin Mills

asphalt shingle roof on blue home

Do you ever feel like you're lost in a big maze of choices when you start a home improvement project? Especially when it comes to safeguarding your investment for the long haul.

We understand that your roof is a significant investment. One that involves a large financial commitment. Knowing what you're getting for your money is important when replacing a roof. This often comes down to three key elements:

  1. The caliber of materials.
  2. The standard of workmanship.
  3. The warranty.

At RoofCrafters, we've partnered with the leading shingles manufacturers. For 30 years, we have been building roofs with top materials, skillful work, and the best warranties. Our deep understanding of roofing warranties' has been a cornerstone of our service. So, we know a thing or two about the fine print inside roofing warranties. Now we would like to share our understanding of warranties with you.

We're here to unravel the intricacies of manufacturer-backed material and labor warranties. By the end of this article, you'll know the differences between various warranties. Hopefully, you'll also gain insights into selecting a warranty that aligns with your needs. If you want to know the advantages of a full warranty or understand what it includes. You're in the right spot.

Let's dive into the world of lifetime asphalt shingle roof warranties together.

Exploring the Essentials: Understanding Lifetime Roof Warranties


what is a roofing warranty and do i need one

A lifetime roof warranty is like insurance for your home's roof. It protects against unexpected problems. Warranties aim to provide peace of mind by covering manufacturing defects and workmanship issues. The manufacturers provide warranties for the roofing materials. However, workmanship warranties are not always covered by the manufacturer.

To understand these warranties, you need to know that they can be divided into two main categories.

  1. Material Warranties: These cover issues related to the roofing material itself.

  2. Workmanship Warranties: These address the installation aspect of your roofing project.

By understanding these warranties, you can make better decisions about replacing your roof.

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Deciphering Material Warranties: What They Mean for Your Asphalt Shingle Roof


The materials warranty will come directly from the shingle manufacturer that you choose to go with. So, whoever produced the materials you select, will own the material warranty. A roofing material warranty will not ever come from the roofing contractor who installs the roof for you.

Think of it as a car warranty. When you buy a car, let’s say you own a Chevy Camaro that is under warranty, if it breaks down you wouldn't take it to a Ford dealership to get it fixed, right? Chevy is the manufacturer, they own the bumper to bumper or maybe you have a 60,000-mile warranty.

lifetime warranty sign

As long as it's under the stated warranty period, the manufacturer has to make the repairs. Roofing material warranties work the same way. So, if you've been looking around at shingles and trying to decide what brand of shingles to go with, I bet you're asking yourself, "What does this lifetime warranty really mean to me?" 

Related Article:  Exposed: The Truth Behind Lifetime Shingle Warranties 


Navigating the Nuances of Shingle Warranties: Non-Prorated and Prorated Coverage Explained


Most manufacturers’ lifetime warranties cover the replacement of the shingles only. That is, if they become defective, lose their integrity, or start to fail before the stated warranty period ends.

crane transporting materials 1

In most cases, the stated warranty period that the shingle manufacturers provide 100% coverage is 10 years. This is called non-prorated warranty coverage. They do not cover poor workmanship under their standard material warranty.

hand lifting loose shingles in valley during a roof inspection

Say your roofer installs the shingles wrong. The manufacturer's shingle warranty does not cover the roofing contractor's faulty workmanship. This is very important and gets misunderstood often.

The non-prorated portion of the material warranty means that the manufacturer will be 100 percent responsible for repairing or replacing the defective materials. This also means they'll cover 100 percent of the materials and labor for any defective shingles for the 10-year period. After the 10 years is up, the warranty changes to a prorated warranty.

The prorated material warranty of a lifetime warranty is calculated from the 10-year mark. This means that the manufacturer will only be responsible for the materials that become defective. They will not be responsible for any labor.  Confusing huh?

The materials will be prorated depending on how many years of life you got out of the shingles. It's calculated based on 50 years. For example, if you get 25 years of life, the manufacturer would prorate the warranty. This means they owe you another 25 years of materials. The 25 years of material life that you should have got from their shingles. However, there is a way to avoid having this short 10-year non-prorated period.

Selecting Certified Roofing Professionals: Extended Warranty Benefits and Expertise


Hire a roofing company that's certified by one of the top manufacturers that offer extended warranties! These roofing contractors can provide you with a 50-year non-prorated warranty on the same lifetime shingles. This is how the top shingle manufacturers promote and reward local roofing contractors doing great work in the community.

chart with pro-rated shingle warranty vs non-pro-rated


These local roofing contractors are required to keep all insurance policies in good standing. All licenses have to be kept up to date. They must be in good standing paying their supply bills. They're committed to providing their roofing installers with further training on a yearly basis. It’s a win-win, you get a longer non-prorated warranty period and the roofing contractors are more experienced and better trained.

The Significance of Workmanship Warranties in Asphalt Shingle Roofing


Because most roof failures are due to installation errors. Yes, it's true that poor workmanship is the number one reason a roof leaks or fails. Not the material failing, the workmanship fails.  This is why the labor warranties are the most important portion of your roof warranty.

tile roof with text over inspection day fail

Workmanship warranties will cover all faulty or installation errors that cause your roof to leak or fail prematurely. The local roofing company you select will provide this portion of the warranty. It's up to the discretion of your local roofer as to how long they will provide a workmanship warranty.


roofers placing tarp over a leak

Most contractors will provide you somewhere between 2  and 5 years of workmanship warranty. This provides you insurance against their craftmanship on an asphalt shingle installation. But again, this is up to the roofing contractor you choose for your project.

roofing estimator inspecting a cornice return

Here is the problem we have with this warranty. It’s only good as long as and IF the roofing company stays in business. Or if the roofer answers the call when you have a leak or a roof problem. And then, they show up and can fix the leak!

Ensuring Reliability: Choosing a Roofing Contractor with Manufacturer-Backed Workmanship Warranties


Look, it is no secret that the roofing industry is a tough business. The Small Business Association shows us that over 85% of roofing contractors go out of business within 3 years. Crazy right? How about this....over 90% are out of business before their 5th year.

You don’t really want a workmanship warranty from one of these roofing companies!  So, how can you avoid hiring a roofing contractor that goes out of business holding the most important part of your investment?

Roofer inspecting a bad shingle installation

The top shingle manufacturers have Select and Master Elite installer programs. These programs allow the roofing contractor to provide you with a workmanship warranty that is backed by the manufacturers. When the manufacturer owns the workmanship warranty, it doesn't matter if the contractor you hired goes out of business or moves to another state. Your workmanship warranty is now owned by the shingle manufacturer. 

CertainTeed SureStart warranty chart showing coverage terms

For example, remember the Chevy Camaro? Let’s say you found a great deal and bought it at a Chevy dealership in Bluffton, South Carolina. You decide to move to Tampa, Florida and your car is still under a bumper-to-bumper 60,000-mile warranty, right? Once you get to Tampa, all of a sudden, your beautiful nice new Camaro breaks down.

Well, even though you bought the car from a dealership in Bluffton, SC all you have to do is take your car to a local Chevy dealership in Tampa.  They'll repair it under the manufacturer's bumper-to-bumper warranty. That's how the workmanship warranties work for asphalt shingles too. The only requirement is that you hire a contractor who is certified and eligible to provide you with these manufacturer-backed roof warranties.

chart showing how much a GAF golden pledge warranty is worth

The top two shingle manufacturers both have a workmanship warranty that'll cover any leaks or faulty workmanship for 25 years. You can see GAF's warranties here and CertainTeed's warranties here.  Both have a 25-year workmanship warranty. CertainTeed's is called a SureStart 5 Star Warranty and GAF’s is called a Golden Pledge Warranty. 

GAF's warranty selection guide chart

GAF also has a Silver Pledge which will provide you with a 10-year workmanship warranty. CertainTeed currency does not offer any other workmanship warranties other than the 5 Star SureStart Plus protection.  With a manufacturer-backed workmanship warranty, you will have 100% coverage for 25 years. With either the GAF Golden Pledge Warranty or the CertainTeed 5-Star warranty. Are comfortable with a 10-year workmanship roof warranty? Then a GAF Silver Pledge will save you a little money on your upfront investment.


Understanding the Limits: What's Not Included in Your Roof Warranty 


Like any homeowner’s insurance policy has limitations and exclusions, so do roof warranties. Here are things that aren’t covered by a roof warranty. They include:

  • Subsidiary damage to the structure or belongings in your home.

  • Damage caused by standing water.

  • Acts of God, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, lightning strikes, and storm damage

  • Fire damage

  • Unauthorized repairs

  • Negligence or lack of maintenance 

  • Improper attic ventilation

  • Improperly installed solar panels or satellite dishes

Taking the Next Step: Choosing the Right Local Roofing Professional for Your Project


Now that you have read this article, we feel confident that you know the difference between a material roof warranty and a workmanship roof warranty.  Whether it's provided by a roofing contractor or by a top roofing manufacturer.

To help you recognize a local professional roofing contractor, we've created a checklist for you. We've also provided the most relevant questions along with the answers to those questions. That way you can ask your potential roofing partner prior to hiring them.

New call-to-action If you are ready to move forward with your roofing project and would like one of our professional roofing estimators at RoofCrafters to come out and go over material and roof warranty options. Take the next step and click below to schedule your inspection and we will see you soon!

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Kevin Mills

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.