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How Long Does a Roof Last? (2024 Guide)

Different types of roofs last for different periods of time. Learn how long your roof will last in our guide.

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Default Author Icon Written by Angela Bunt Updated 03/25/2024

Whether you’re a new or long-time homeowner, you’ve probably wondered how long your roof will remain in good condition. The answer largely depends on the type of roof you have, but many other factors impact a roof’s lifespan. This guide details how long various types of roofs last and provides tips for making them last longer.

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How Long a Roof Lasts by Type

An average roof lasts 25–50 years, depending on the quality, durability, and type of roofing material. You typically get what you pay for, so keep in mind that the cheapest options will require replacement sooner. For example, metal roofs cost much more than asphalt ones but last three times longer.

In the video below, general contractor Tom Silva discusses the durability of four popular roofing materials: asphalt shingles, metal roofs, wooden shakes, and clay tiles.

Here’s a breakdown of the expected lifespans of various roofing materials, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI):

  • Architectural asphalt shingles: 30 years
  • Three-tab asphalt shingles: 20 years 
  • Built-up roofing (BUR): 30 years
  • Clay tiles: 100+ years 
  • Concrete: 100+ years
  • Copper: 70+ years
  • EPDM rubber: 15–25 years
  • Fiber cement: 25 years
  • Green (vegetation-covered): 5–40 years
  • Metal: 40–80 years
  • Modified bitumen: 20 years
  • Synthetic (simulated slate): 10–35 years
  • Slate: 60–150 years
  • TPO rubber: 7–20 years
  • Wood: 40–50 years

Beyond the type of roofing material, several other factors influence the lifespan of a roof.

The local climate and your roof’s sun exposure significantly affect its life span. Less durable roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, will deteriorate faster in regions with fluctuating temperatures and extreme storms. Wind, hail, tornadoes, and other stormy weather conditions can also leave divots in the roof, remove protective granules from shingles, and cause moisture buildup that leads to mildew and roof leaks. 

A roof’s color can affect its life expectancy. We recommend light-colored roofs in sunnier climates because dark colors absorb more heat from the sun. Overheated shingles are more likely to experience wear and tear, and they make ventilating your roof more difficult.

Underlayment is a waterproof layer that helps protect your roof’s interior if the exterior gets damaged. It prevents moisture buildup and mold issues. Without this layer, your roof may start to rot.

Poor installation is a common reason roofs don’t last as long as they should. Look for the following signs of a bad roofing job to determine if your roof needs repair:

  • Bad nailing techniques
  • Damaged or missing shingles
  • Mismatched shingles
  • Missing underlayment 
  • No drip edge 
  • Reused flashing
  • Roof stains 
  • Sagging rooflines
  • Water leaks

The pitch of your roof affects drainage and exposure to wind and debris. Steeper roofs may be more susceptible to wind damage, while flatter roofs may require more frequent repairs or replacements. If you have a flat roof or a roof with a low slant, be more diligent about checking for water accumulation that could lead to mold and fungus or cause more severe damage and roof leaks.

Your roof must remain at a consistent temperature to prevent materials from cracking under pressure. Proper attic ventilation helps prevent moisture buildup, which can damage your roof from the inside. It also reduces the risk of overheating or freezing, making your home’s air conditioning, heating, and other major systems and appliances run efficiently.

Watch for signs of poor roof ventilation and take precautions to control it. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Visible moisture damage inside your home, such as sagging ceilings or peeling paint
  • Visible moisture damage to your home’s exterior, such as deteriorating shingles, decking, soffit, or fascia
  • Extreme temperature shifts inside your home
  • Moisture in the attic
  • Ice dams in winter

Regular inspections and minor repairs can prevent damage and extend your roof’s life. Schedule yearly inspections and address any issues promptly.

Regularly dispose of any leaves or debris in your gutters as the seasons change, and consider installing gutter guards to prevent clogs and water damage

Trees provide beauty and shade, but they can also shorten your roof’s lifespan. Dense shade makes it more difficult for your roof to dry out, and that extra dampness can lead to rot, mold, and moss growth. Overhanging branches can cause damage when they fall or rub against your roof during storms. Regularly trim overhanging branches and remove problematic trees to extend your roof’s lifespan.


How To Make Your Roof Last Longer

By making smart choices and taking care of your roof, you can avoid the hassle and expense of a new roof. Our research revealed the following considerations that contribute to roof longevity:

  • Material choice: Start with a durable material suited to your climate. Metal roofs excel in harsh weather, while asphalt thrives in milder climates. Slate offers superior longevity but at a higher cost.
  • Expert installation: Opt for a qualified contractor who follows industry standards and uses high-quality materials. Poor installation compromises even the best materials.
  • Regular maintenance: Schedule yearly inspections to identify and address minor issues before they snowball into major problems. Clean gutters regularly to prevent moisture buildup and damage.
  • Proper ventilation: Ensure adequate attic ventilation to prevent moisture accumulation and roof rot. Consult a professional to assess your ventilation needs.
  • Debris clearing: Trim overhanging branches to prevent leaf accumulation and branch damage. Remove other debris like moss and algae to avoid moisture traps.
  • Tailored protection: Research your specific roof type and its recommended maintenance practices. If severe weather, such as heavy snowfall, is a concern, consider protective measures like snow guards.
Spotting minor problems early can help you prevent them from turning into bigger, more expensive issues. If you notice any concerns while checking your roof, such as damaged shingles, call a professional who can further evaluate the problem and provide solutions.

Do Warranties Help With a Roof’s Life Expectancy?

Even the best home warranty will not directly increase your roof’s lifespan. However, they can be valuable tools in helping maintain and protect your roof, which can indirectly contribute to a longer lifespan. More specifically, roof warranties can offer the following benefits:

  • Peace of mind: Knowing you have warranty coverage can provide some peace of mind, encouraging you to be more proactive in identifying and addressing minor problems before they become major issues. Warranties often require regular inspections, which can help identify potential problems early, when they are easier and less expensive to fix.
  • Protection from certain types of damage: Warranties typically cover specific types of damage caused by manufacturer defects or faulty installation. This can save you significant costs related to repairs or replacements stemming from these covered issues.
  • Incentive for contractors to perform quality work: Reputable contractors offering longer warranties are more likely to use high-quality materials and perform proper installation, as they are more invested in the long-term performance of the roof.
  • Help with navigating repairs and replacements: If you encounter a covered issue during the warranty period, filing a warranty claim will likely lead to a quick solution to the issue.

A roof’s life expectancy is typically longer than its warranty. Still, warranties help protect your investment and cover costly roof repairs due to unforeseen circumstances, such as storm damage. Reputable roofing companies and high-quality roofing materials typically have longer warranties.

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Our Conclusion

Various factors, such as local weather conditions and how well you keep up roof maintenance, can increase or decrease your roof’s projected life span. Knowing how long your roof is meant to last will help you plan for the expensive process of roof replacement when it arrives. If you think your roof needs repairs or replacement, use our tool below to contact roofing contractors who service your area.

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FAQ About How Long a Roof Lasts

What roof has the longest life span?

Slate roofs have the longest lifespans, easily lasting over 100 years. Metal, concrete, and clay roofs are other long-lasting options, with lifespans ranging from 40–100 years or longer.

What color roof lasts the longest?

The color roof that lasts the longest depends on your local climate. For example, light-colored roofs may last longer in sunny climates because the heat and UV rays are reflected off the roof.

What is the cheapest, longest-lasting roof?

Asphalt shingle roofs are one of the cheapest options and can last up to 30 years. Other materials, such as metal, slate, concrete, and clay, cost more upfront but can last much longer. This may save you money long-term, as roof replacement is costly, and you won’t need it as frequently, if ever.

How often should you replace your roof?

Most asphalt roofs need replacing every 15–30 years, while metal and tile roofs can last 40–80 years or longer. Regular inspections and proactive maintenance can help extend your roof’s life, delaying the need for replacement. However, visible signs of wear, leaks, or damage indicate it’s time for a new roof, regardless of age.

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