Most homeowners have not budgeted for an expensive roof replacement. Unless extreme weather causes wind or hail damage to roofs, most homeowners do not even think about their roofs.
When homeowners must invest in a new roof, a frequently asked question is, how long does a roof last? The answer is it depends. Many variables impact a roof’s lifespan, like the type of roofing material, the specific product selected, quality of installation, and exposure to storm damage like hail, wind, or extreme sun.
Regular repairs and maintenance are critical to extending your roof’s life. Without frequent roof inspections, most homeowners and property owners won’t realize their roof’s condition or when the roof needs critical repairs or is beyond repair.
Further, most homeowners don’t know how long a roof’s lifespan is or when to replace it.
This article will answer how long a roof should last, signs to look for when you should replace your roof, and tips to extend your roof’s lifespan. Like a good auto mechanic, we recommend finding a great professional roofer to complete regular inspections and address minor issues before they become a much more expensive roof repair or replacement.
Table of Contents
- How to Understand Life Expectancy for Your Roof
- Top 10 Factors Affecting the Lifespan of a Roof
- How Do Warranties Compare to the Lifespan of a Roof?
- Roof Life Expectancy of Different Types of Roofs
- How Long Does a Commercial Flat Roof Last?
- Roof Lifespan Comparison: What Roofing Material Lasts the Longest?
- What Is the Average Lifespan of a Roof in Colorado?
- The Value of a Long-Lasting Roof
- How To Extend The Life Of Your Home’s Roof?
- Follow Top 10 Tips to Increase your Average Roof Life Expectancy
- How Long Does a 30-Year Roof Really Last?
- How Often Should You Replace A Roof?
- What Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Aging Roof?
- Choose Professional Roofers for Regular Roof Maintenance
How to Understand Life Expectancy for Your Roof
Most roofing materials will last between 25 – 50 years in optimal conditions. Depending on where you live, the average life of a roof is far less. For example, a 30-year rated asphalt shingle will likely have a roof life expectancy of only 20+ years. Homeowners who live in markets with extreme storms can expect lower roofing life expectancy and need to replace their roofs more frequently.
Residential Roof Life Expectancy
When purchasing a new home, questions about the roof are typical. Most home inspections specifically list the roof. A roof has many components, so an issue may be simple, like an exhaust vent or roof pipe that needs additional silicone sealant. Or the roof could be past its useful life expectancy.
Sometimes, a home inspection company will add the roof as an issue so that the buyer can negotiate a better sales price. If there are any legitimate roofing issues, a buyer should ask for concessions that will become problems the buyer will need to address.
As a buyer, you will want to know the roof’s age as it is likely to be the most expensive individual item to address if a total roof replacement is needed. You will also want to learn any special requirements like the type of roofing material required by a neighborhood or homeowners association. Depending on the necessary material, this could prove more expensive than imagined or budgeted when replacing a roof.
When budgeting for a new roof, you will want to learn about a roof’s life expectancy, with different products that best address regional needs like algae resistance, wind requirements, and hail impact resistance.
Most asphalt shingles will last 20 to 25 years, while premium Class 4 shingles or metal roofs can last 50 years. The residential roof life expectancy really depends on what you install and where you live.
Let’s explore the different roofing materials to choose the best product for your home and budget.
Commercial Roof Life Expectancy
Commercial roofs are typically flat with different roof materials installed. Like residential roofing materials, no roof will last forever. The average roof life expectancy will be like residential roofing materials, with an average of 30 years.
The expense of a new roof will be a capital expense, so the commercial roof life expectancy must be a key factor, as is which type of roof material best works for your budget. Popular commercial roof materials are TPO, EPDM, PVC, and modified bitumen.
Commercial roof coatings are an alternative to a roof replacement, where a flat roof coating material like acrylic or silicone is applied on top of an existing roof to extend the roof’s useful life. A roof coating manufacturer can warranty the coating, costing far less than a roof replacement.
We will discuss the various commercial roofing materials that work best for your building and budget.
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Top 10 Factors Affecting the Lifespan of a Roof
Many variables determine the lifespan of a roof. The following details 10 factors that affect a roof’s useful life, including age, installation quality, and storm damage.
30-year rated asphalt shingles are the most popular residential roofing product, like the Owens Corning Oakridge, Duration, or the GAF Timberline HDZ. However, the actual lifespan of your roof will also depend on the roofing product selected. A 50-year rated shingle roof will last longer than a 30-year rated one. Thus, when needing to replace your roof, you must decide whether the additional cost for a more premium product is worth your peace of mind.
Keep reading about the variables that affect a roof’s lifespan.
The Type of Roofing Material Used
80% of US homes have asphalt shingles roofs. Top roofing manufacturers sell a range of products, from cost-effective 3-tab strip shingles to premium Class 4 shingles, each with its respective lifespan. Beyond asphalt shingle roofs, tile, metal, and commercial roofing materials have different thicknesses that affect a roof’s lifespan.
You will need to decide on the best product that meets your needs and budget.
The Quality of Roofing Materials Used
Whatever roofing material best suits your home or business, you will find a range of pricing options. Lower quality, cost-effective materials will have shorter lifespans, be thinner, and are likely to require more repairs. A premium product will be thicker with a longer roof life expectancy. For example, most 3-tab shingles have a 25-year rating. Many luxury shingles are much thicker with 50-year ratings.
We recommend hiring a reputable roofer that installs premium materials to maximize the life expectancy of your roof. At Metro City Roofing, we offer a free upgrade to Class 4 shingles, the highest-rated asphalt shingle roofing material.
Many homeowners never consider what’s underneath the visible roofing material. Roofing underlayment is a critical component of a residential roofing system. It acts as a layer of waterproofing protection if the actual roof is damaged. Roofing underlayment prevents moisture, mold, and is essential to prevent deterioration and rot.
Premium roofing underlayment products are synthetic underlayment or an ice and water barrier (often called Ice and Water Shield). Most quality roofers no longer install organic felt and opt to install synthetic felt for all projects. Some lesser roofing companies charge a premium for it as an upgrade. Luxury home builders frequently install an ice and water barrier on the entire roof since this is the thickest underlayment and offers the best protection between the roof deck and visible roofing material.
Installation Workmanship Quality
Installation quality plays a crucial role in a roof’s life expectancy. A quality roofer will have a license to work in the city or county where the roofing work is performed and pull a permit for every roofing project. As part of the permit process, local building divisions will inspect the roof for quality installation and meeting all local building code requirements.
Many homeowners may notice shoddy roof installation and may not be realized for some time, long after a workmanship warranty expires. A quality roofing contractor will use premium materials, install to manufacturer installation guidelines, and pay careful attention to valleys, flashings, and sealing all exposed nail heads.
Natural elements like strong sun and extreme storms play a significant role in shortening your roof’s lifespan. Hailstorms and windstorms drive the popularity of some roofing products over others.
With extreme weather, it is important to choose among durable options. Colorado experiences dramatic changes in temperatures from hot to cold, often 30˚ or more in a single day. Strong winds and tornadoes can loosen shingles or even rip them off the roof. Hailstorms can puncture through asphalt shingles, creating divots in a roof and inviting water inside your home.
Further, local building codes may dictate products or limit your options. For example, some cities and counties in the Denver metro area require asphalt shingles that meet minimum wind resistance ratings. In Fort Collins, the building code requires Class 4 shingles for all new installations and roof replacements. Thus, lesser-priced options may not be considered.
The Color of Roofing Materials
The color of your roof can play an important role in extending your roof’s life expectancy. In sunny and warm climates, lighter roofing materials will reflect the sun’s rays more than darker products that absorb more of the sun’s heat. Overheated shingles have an increased chance for deterioration and make properly venting your roof more difficult.
Asphalt shingle manufacturers like Owens Corning and GAF offer specific cool collections that increase solar reflectivity and radiate less heat. Owens Corning promotes that its COOL roof product line can extend the roof’s useful life with its solar-reflecting granules that reduce shingle temperature and slow asphalt aging. Another option is to simply purchase lighter colors like GAF White or Owens Corning Shasta White, which are ENERGY STAR rated colors.
For commercial properties, white is the most popular color for TPO roofs. And most roof coatings are applied in white or light colors to reflect heat best and extend the roof’s life.
The Slope of a Roof
A roof’s pitch plays a vital role in moving rainwater off the roof and into the gutters and downspouts. Gutters and downspouts also play an essential part, where clogged gutters or downspouts with inferior drainage may prevent water from exiting the roof.
Water collecting on a roof will shorten a roof’s lifespan. Incorrectly pitched flat roofs are more susceptible to standing water, also known as pooling or ponding water. Pooling water will more likely find its way into a building through loose seams, punctures, tears, or flashings. It can also lead to mold and fungus growth.
The pitch of a roof can also minimize the impact of hail damage. Steeper-pitched roofs frequently have a lesser effect than lower pitched roofs.
Proper ventilation is a crucial component of a roof system. A roof is more than just visible shingles or any flat roof material. Ventilation helps the roof maintain a consistent temperature, with both intake and exhaust vents to let cooler air in and hotter air escape. With a properly vented roof, roofing materials are less likely to deteriorate or crack with overheating or freezing.
Some building codes enforce the same requirements as new construction for roof replacements, while others do not require adding ventilation if the existing roof is under-ventilated.
It’s always a bright idea to speak with a professional roofing contractor for a proper diagnosis and recommended ventilation changes.
Flashings is a general industry term for a piece of metal used to prevent unwanted water entry into a building at any roof intersection, such as vent pipes, chimneys, and valleys. Many types of flashings can be installed on a roof, including counterflashing, step flashing, headwall flashing, chimney flashing, skylight flashing, evaporative cooler flashing, drip edge, gutter apron, exhaust vents, and pipes.
Each has its unique installation requirements and must be adequately sealed to keep unwanted water from penetrating inside a home or building. Most roof leaks occur at flashings. For this reason, we strongly recommend hiring a professional roofing company to inspect your roof regularly and perform essential maintenance like sealing exposed nail heads.
Regular Roof Maintenance
All homes and businesses need regular maintenance to keep them functioning correctly. A roof is no different. Regular roof maintenance will extend your roof’s lifespan and can avoid a considerable, unexpected expense.
We recommend annual roof inspections and inspections following extreme storms to quickly identify any immediate actions and warning signs that will make a minor repair turn into a major expense if left untreated. Sometimes, applying silicone sealant around an exhaust vent, pipe, or chimney is all that’s needed to keep your roof performing correctly.
Depending on the extent of damage, roof repairs may not be enough, and only a total roof replacement will suffice.
Many homeowners and building owners do not arrange regular roof inspections, only contacting a roofing company once they notice asphalt granules around the property or have a leak.
There are many things a homeowner, building owner, or property manager can do to extend the life of your roof, ranging from scheduling regular roof inspections and completing essential maintenance to choosing the best product possible and a quality roofing contractor.
How Do Warranties Compare to the Lifespan of a Roof?
Most manufacturers offer similar warranties for similar products. A thicker asphalt shingle or commercial roofing material will likely have a more extended warranty than a thinner alternative.
Warranties exist to protect an owner’s investment and maximize a roof’s lifespan. Provided the roofing contractor installed the roof per manufacturer installation guidelines, extreme weather is the critical component that can hinder the roof’s lifespan. A warranty will protect your investment and cover costly roof repairs from unexpected damages.
How Long Does a Roof Last?
The average roof life expectancy typically ranges between 25 to 50 years. As we’ve covered, how long a roof lasts depends on many factors. Like most everything in life, you get what you pay for. Selecting a lesser quality product installed cheaply may haunt you in the long run.
Paying a premium for the best roofing materials with quality installation and a warranty will provide the best protection for your home or building.
Extreme storms can hinder your roof’s life, regardless of the material or installation quality. For example, 3″ hailstones will damage just about any roof due to their size and speed of impact.
So, how long does a roof last? We recommend speaking with a roofing professional to discuss your next roofing project for materials and experience.
Roof Life Expectancy of Different Types of Roofs
The type of roofing material you select is a top factor in your roof’s life expectancy. Different products address algae, wind, hail, and overall lifespan.
Let’s review various roofing materials and expected lifespans.
How Long Does an Asphalt Shingle Roof Last?
Most homeowners and building owners choose not to purchase the most expensive roofing materials but still want to maximize their roof’s life expectancy.
80% of US homes have asphalt shingle roofs because they are affordable and durable. Asphalt shingles are manufactured with fiberglass and asphalt sealant and can protect your roof from natural elements like extreme sun, rain, snow, wind, and hail.
When speaking with roofing contractors, homeowners frequently ask, how long does an asphalt shingle roof last? Most roofing professionals attest that asphalt shingle roof life expectancy ranges from 25 to 30 years for a basic architectural shingle roof to longer with premium shingles. But this will vary based on weather events and your region and climate. Intense sun, heat exposure, extreme wind, and hail will accelerate your roof’s lifespan.
Asphalt Shingle Roof Lifespan by Type
Asphalt shingle types range from 3-tab to architectural to luxury shingles. Each product serves a distinct need, from cost-effectiveness with a shorter lifespan and lower wind resistance rating to premium shingles that meet Class 4 impact resistance and the highest wind resistance.
Let’s discuss in more detail the various asphalt shingle roof lifespans.
3-tab shingles lifespan
3-tab shingle life expectancy is the lowest of all shingle types. 3-tab or strip shingles are thin and flat with the lowest durability. So how long do 3-tab shingles last?
Most 3-tab shingles have a 25-year standard shingle warranty. For example, the Owens Corning Supreme and the Malarkey Dura-Seal AR have 25-year warranties and 60 mile per hour wind resistance ratings. But the Malarkey Dura-Seal AR has a Class 4 impact resistance rating to better protect against hail damage. And the GAF Marquis WeatherMax shingles have 80 mile per hour wind resistance. These variables contribute to the 3-tab shingles lifespan, combining the warranty with wind and hail resistance. Weather plays a critical role and 3-tab shingles will likely only last 15 to 25 years.
Architectural/dimensional shingles lifespan
Architectural shingles have more dimensions than 3-tab shingles and have become the most popular shingle style in the US. Architectural shingles lifespan ranges from 30 to 50 years, depending on whether you select the most basic architectural shingles like the GAF Timberline HDZ or Class 4 shingles like the Owens Corning Duration STORM with their 50-year Limited Lifetime warranty.
Like differences with 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles offer something for everyone. Manufacturers sell architectural shingles that focus on reflectivity, algae, wind, and hail resistance. You will notice differences in architectural roof shingles life expectancy even within the same manufacturer. For example, the Owens Corning Oakridge is the entry priced architectural shingle with a 110/130 mile per hour wind speed resistance rating, whereas the Owens Corning Duration has a 130 mile per hour rating.
How long do architectural shingles last? It depends on which region of the country you live in – and extreme weather that will shrink your roof’s lifespan. High wind or hail-prone areas can damage and lift shingles, requiring replacing your roof far sooner than the advertised lifespan. The average lifespan for basic architectural or dimensional shingles is 20 to 30 years.
Designer shingles lifespan
Luxury or designer asphalt shingles may be for homeowners who want their homes to stand out from their neighbors. Most designer shingles’ lifespan is 50-years with fancier styles than the more traditional architectural shingles.
Many resemble wood shakes or natural slates and are thicker and more durable. For example, most architectural shingles are sold in bundles, where 3 bundles cover 100 square feet of roof coverage. But the Owens Corning Berkshire is a top-of-the-line shingle, resembles a natural slate, and requires 5 bundles to cover 100 square feet.
Designer asphalt shingles will likely have a lifespan ranging between 20 to 40 years. No matter which shingles you select for your home or business, we strongly recommend regular roof inspections and maintenance to address minor issues before they become major repairs. Most homeowners will get 80% or longer of the advertised lifespan with proper ventilation and insulation.
How Long Does a Tile Roof Last?
Tile roofs are beautiful and durable. A tile roof lifespan can last many decades when properly installed and maintained.
Depending on the tile roof type and manufacturer, tile roofs can be much more expensive than asphalt shingles. But homeowners and building owners can expect the tile roof life expectancy of up to 100 years and avoid the need to do more than replace individual tiles. You pay more upfront but have a much higher return on investment (ROI).
When hail or wind damage individual shingles, replacing individual tiles is possible. If you install a tile roof on your home, there’s a reasonable probability it will last the rest of your life.
Let’s look at three tile materials and answer the popular question, how long do tile roofs last?
Concrete tile roof lifespan
Concrete tile roofs are prevalent in many parts of the US, with a concrete tile roof life expectancy of 50 years. They are manufactured in various styles and can be painted in many colors.
You will see three primary styles or shapes:
- A flat tile
- Having a slight curve (referred to as a low profile)
- Having a large curve (referred to as a high profile)
Concrete tiles can mimic other tile styles, including clay, wood, slate, and stone.
Concrete tiles are manufactured from sand, cement, and water, so they are very sturdy and durable and can complement your home’s design.
So how long do concrete tile roof tiles last? You will find that most concrete tile roof lifespan is 50 years, with 50-year limited lifetime warranties from manufacturers like Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions.
Concrete tiles reflect sunlight and can withstand high heat. Concrete tiles are heavy and more expensive than asphalt shingles. When considering upgrading your roofing material to concrete tile, we strongly recommend hiring a structural engineer to advise whether any additional framing and supports are necessary to support the extra weight.
Clay tile roof lifespan
Like concrete tiles, clay tile roof lifespan can range between 50 to 100 years due to their extreme durability. Most clay tile manufacturers offer warranties from 30 years to a lifetime warranty. Manufacturers know that clay tile roof life expectancy is so long since the tiles are weather-resistant, fire-resistant, and do not rot.
That’s not to say that a clay tile roof needs no maintenance. We recommend regular roof inspections and proper cleaning from algae, mold, and moss to maximize your clay tile roof life expectancy. Moss can be the most dangerous to your roof as roots can damage and penetrate the tiles, creating roof leaks.
Tile roofs are most common in the southwest US and Spanish-style homes and buildings. In colder climates, clay tile roofs do not typically last as long with frequent freezing and thawing in winter months that can damage the tiles, but one can seal the clay tiles to minimize the cold weather impacts.
The following are signs you should have your clay tile roof inspected by a professional roofer:
- Cracked tiles
- Chipped tiles
- Missing tiles
- Loose tiles
- Roof leaks
- Water staining in the attic
Popular clay tile manufacturers include Ludowici and Westlake Royal Roofing Solutions. The most popular color is Spanish terracotta red, but clay tiles can be painted as flat or shiny and can be flat or curved. They can also model styles like shake or slate. Ludowici is often viewed as the Rolls Royce or Bentley of clay tiles and offers styles and colors to create the design to meet any taste.
So, how long do clay tile roofs last? Westlake offers a 50-year warranty. Ludowici warrants its clay tile to be free from manufacturing defects and maintain color fastness during the 75 years following the sale of the tile to the original purchaser.
Slate tile roof expectancy
Slate roofs tend to be expensive but stand out from any crowd. Slate combines natural material like volcanic ash or clay and has a refined, grainy appearance. While slate is durable, it has brittle characteristics that make slate tile roofs easily breakable. For discerning homeowners and building owners, slate tile roofs simply provide a beautiful appearance on a roof.
How long do slate roof tiles last? Like other tile materials, slate tile roof life expectancy can be 50 to 100 years or more with regular inspections and maintenance.
The following are signs you should contact a professional roofing contractor for your slate tile roof: missing tiles, loose tiles, chipped or cracked tiles, water damage in your attic or interior.
Few roofing contractors specialize only in slate roof replacements and installation due to the few customers choosing slate. Many roofing companies, however, specialize in tile roofing systems. For homeowners choosing to upgrade their roof’s look from asphalt shingles to slate tile, we recommend having a structural engineer confirm that your roof can accommodate the additional weight.
Tile roofs make an excellent choice for selective homeowners who want to make a statement. Tile roofs have a very extended lifespan that, in many cases, will outlive the person who chose it when installed and maintained correctly.
How Long Does a Cedar Wood Roof Last?
Homeowners value products manufactured from cedar trees for their distinct appearance, high insulation value, low maintenance requirements, and resistance to decay. Cedar roofing products are lightweight with a natural design appeal. As cedar wood roofing ages, it evolves with changing color and cupping and curling.
So how long does a cedar roof last? The average cedar roof life expectancy is 30 years. Like other roofing materials, homeowners must perform proper maintenance to maximize the roof’s lifespan.
Some manufacturers like Imperial Shake Co. offer warranties ranging from 30 to 50 years. These are limited warranties that cover against termite damage and decay and must meet specific warranty conditions like pressure treatment of chemical preservatives to best protect against rot and decay.
Let’s look further at cedar roofing products, namely cedar shakes and shingles.
Cedar shake roof lifespan
Hand-split red cedar shakes are a popular top choice for natural roofs. The wood is hand-split and then re-sawn, providing a rustic appearance. Shakes are available in either 18″ or 24″ lengths with different butt thicknesses starting at ½.”
So how long does a cedar shake roof last? The cedar shake roof life expectancy ranges from 20 to 50 years, depending on the selected product. The cedar shake roof lifespan for #1 Grade split/re-sawn shakes has a 20-year warranty, and #1 Grade Premium Select or #Premium 100% VG shakes have a 50-year warranty. Some cedar shakes have high hailstorm resistance, with products meeting the UL 2218 Class 3 and Class 4 ratings.
The other cedar shake style is called tapersawn, where shakes are sawn on both sides, with a sawn shingle look but with a thicker appearance. Tapersawn cedar shakes have a smooth uniform look. They are available in 18” and 24” lengths with a butt thickness of 5/8”, 3/4”, 7/8”, 1”. Manufacturer warranties range from 30 to 40 years. Depending on the product and grade of cedar shake selected, cedar shake roofs lifespan will range between 20 to 40 years.
Cedar shingles roof lifespan
Cedar shingles are a natural, durable, and lightweight roofing material with a unique design used for more than a century. Cedar is generally viewed as the best natural wood roofing and siding material since it is rot and insect-resistant.
But how long do cedar shingles last? Cedar shingle roof life expectancy can range from 20 to 40 years, depending on the material thickness and treatment. Typically, the thicker the shingles, the longer the expected lifespan. The actual cedar shingles lifespan will also depend on where you live, proper installation, and maintenance. Maintaining wood shingles includes annual cleaning and repainting or staining every few years if the desired look is not naturally aged cedar.
Wood ages naturally. Splits, cupping, and curling is natural with aging wood. Hailstorms or windstorms can damage the wood shakes or shingles. Following any extreme storm, we recommend contacting a professional roofing company to inspect your roof for loose or missing shakes or shingles, or hail damage, where a hailstone splits the shake or shingle.
Today, homeowners who want the natural look of wood shake or shingles, but not actual natural wood, can purchase synthetic versions to simulate the natural look from manufacturers like Brava.
How Long Does a Metal Roof Last?
Metal roofing doesn’t describe a specific product but rather a range of products across various styles, colors, and materials, including copper, aluminum, and steel. For metal roofing used on homes and businesses, steel has become the industry standard and can mimic more expensive materials with color application to match a natural patina.
Steel metal roofing can be installed anywhere, working well in hail-prone markets and where high winds are frequent. Steel is also among the hardest metals and can withstand heavy snow loads, so it is common in mountain regions.
But how long does a metal roof last? The typical metal roof life expectancy is 25 to 45 years. Manufacturers establish different warranty criteria like fading, cracking, chipping, and overall structural failure.
The thickness of metal roofing is determined by the gauge, where the lower measurement is thicker. For example, a 22-gauge metal panel is thicker than a 24-gauge panel. The thicker the metal, the more durable, which means greater protection for your home or building.
Standing seam metal roof lifespan
Manufacturers like Drexel Metals and Metal Sales offer standing seam metal panels seen on commercial buildings and residential homes, offering architectural appeal. Standing seam panels are installed as full-length panels that provide excellent watertight protection.
Metal Sales’ warranty states that its Galvalume product will not rupture, fail structurally, or perforate within twenty‐five years but have more extended warranties for fading, cracking, flaking, chipping, or film integrity. The life expectancy of a standing seam metal roof averages 25 to 45 years.
Ribbed metal panels average lifespan
Classic ribbed metal panels are commonly found on barns, storage sheds, and utility buildings. They have exposed fasteners and are frequently applied over open framing. Ribbed metal panels are typically thinner than standing seam metal, using a 29- or 26-gauge metal. Ribbed metal panels are less expensive and have a lesser life expectancy and warranty, starting at 20 years.
Like its more expensive counterpart, ribbed metal roofing panels are available in many colors. For example, ABC Metal offers more than 20 standard colors but can fabricate any color as requested.
Stone-coated steel tiles average lifespan
Stone-coated steel metal roofing is an excellent option for homeowners who want the strength and durability of steel but not the design of long metal panels. Since stone-coated steel mimics tile roofing, homeowners and building owners have many options for design and color.
Manufacturers like DECRA boast that its panels have up to 50-year warranties covering leaks, blow-offs, and hailstone penetration. Materials and labor are covered for the first 20 years and then prorated in coverage. The life expectancy of a stone-coated steel roof averages 40 to 70 years.
Metal roofs continue to increase in popularity, covering an entire roof or simply as an accent portion to stand out from neighbors. Metal roofing is more durable than other roofing types, with a longer life expectancy, but is also frequently more expensive in material and labor costs than lesser-priced asphalt shingles.
How Long Does a Flat Roof Last?
Commercial roofs are typically flat roofs, although any pitched roof can house a commercial operation. Common commercial flat roof materials include TPO, EPDM, PVC, modified bitumen, and roll roofing.
How long does a flat roof last? Building owners can expect a flat roof life expectancy of 30 years or longer, depending on the product selected, including roof covering or membrane thickness, and installation quality.
The material color can also aid in determining your commercial roof life expectancy. White or lighter colors are more reflective and less likely to crack and deteriorate with time. Proper maintenance and drainage also play key roles in answering, how long does a commercial roof last?
Flat Roof Lifespan of Different Commercial Roof Types
Popular flat roof materials include EPDM, TPO, modified bitumen, built up roofing, and PVC. The flat roof lifespan of your roof will depend on the material and thickness selected, the roof’s pitch for proper drainage, regular maintenance, and more.
EPDM roof life expectancy
How long does an EPDM roof last? EPDM membranes can have a life expectancy of more than 50 years. EPDM roofs are made from synthetic rubber and are available in large sheets, which reduce the number of seams. Fewer seams mean fewer potential points for moisture penetration.
According to Firestone, the EPDM Roofing Association recently completed a weathering study of EPDM roofing systems aged 28 to 32 years old and found that all still performed as new.
EPDM membranes are available in two colors: white and black. Color plays a critical role in the membrane’s response to hot and cold temperatures. White membranes better reflect heat and reduce cooling costs. In colder climates, black EPDM membranes better absorb heat and help to reduce heating costs.
TPO roof life expectancy
A TPO roof membrane may look like PVC, but it is an entirely different roofing material. TPO membranes are classified by their thickness. For example, a 60-mil TPO membrane is 0.060 inches thick, whereas an 80-mil membrane is TPO is 0.080 inches thick.
So, what is a TPO roof life expectancy? Typically, the TPO roof lifespan for a 60-mil TPO membrane that is fully-adhered will last 20 to 30 years. By contrast, the same mil thickness with a mechanically attached installation typically lasts 15 to 25 years. An 80-mil thickness membrane will typically last 5 years longer for either installation.
Hiring a professional roofing contractor to perform regular inspections will look for punctures, cuts, tears, and loose seams to keep your TPO roof in top condition.
Modified bitumen roof life expectancy
Modified bitumen roofing is an asphalt-based and low maintenance flat roof material approved by local building codes where traditional roll roofing no longer meets code requirements. Modified bitumen is incredibly strong and withstands both high and low temperatures.
Modified bitumen roof lifespan will range from 20 years or longer. Manufacturers like CertainTeed offer standard warranties up to 25 years. Like other manufacturers, CertainTeed allows its certified installers to offer more extended warranties for an additional cost.
Repairs are often quite simple, increasing the modified bitumen life expectancy by applying an additional piece of modified bitumen atop the existing membrane.
PVC roof life expectancy
PVC is a single-ply roofing membrane found on flat or low-sloped structures. It is durable and strongly resistant to chemicals, grease, fire, and punctures. PVC roofing contains cool roof pigments, UV stabilizers, and other components known to extend the PVC roof life expectancy by reflecting the sun’s energy. With PVC, seams are welded together, so the sheets bond molecularly like during manufacturing.
GAF is a popular manufacturer of PVC membranes, offering up to 30-year warranties. A correctly installed PVC roof can last more than 25 years when all flashing materials are the same material as the rest of the roof.
How long does a PVC roof last? It depends on the roofing contractor’s installation process and the frequency of maintenance performed.
Commercial building owners and property managers have lots of commercial flat roof materials. Choose the best one for your region, climate, and budget. No matter what you choose, we strongly recommend frequent roof inspections and performing any needed maintenance.
Roof Lifespan Comparison: What Roofing Material Lasts the Longest?
As we’ve covered, a roof lifespan depends on many variables, and no individual factor solves it all. Pitched roofs and flat roofs require different roofing materials, so concrete tile, for example, is not a viable option on a flat roof. Similarly, TPO is not an option for a pitched roof.
Let’s look at the chart below highlighting which roofing material lasts the longest, according to standard manufacturer warranties.
|Roofing Material||Estimated Lifespan|
|3-tab asphalt shingles||15 – 25 years|
|Architectural asphalt shingles||20 – 30 years|
|Designer asphalt shingles||20 – 40 years|
|Concrete tiles||50 years|
|Clay tiles||50 – 100 years|
|Slate tiles||50 – 100 years|
|Cedar shakes||20 – 40 years|
|Cedar shingles||25 – 45 years|
|Standing seam metal||40 – 80 years|
|Ribbed metal||20 – 25 years|
|Stone-coated steel||40 – 70 years|
|EPDM||20 – 30 years|
|TPO||20 – 30 years|
|Modified bitumen||20 years|
Tile roofs, covering concrete, clay, and slate, have the longest lifespans. They can also be the most expensive roofing material, with specialty manufacturers like Ludowici costing three times more than an asphalt shingle roof. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and a tile roof under optimal conditions, void of extreme weather like hail or hurricanes, can last 100 years or more. So, the roof you install may outlast you, providing a tremendous return on investment.
No matter what roofing material you choose, your roof is an investment. Carefully consider how long you intend to live at your home, comparable product compared to neighbors, resale value, and budget. Even the most basic 3-tab shingle roof will last 15 years, with concrete tile roofs likely outlasting the person who purchased it. If you select a professional roofing contractor specializing in a specific roof material, you may also get a more extended warranty with select manufacturers.
What Is the Average Lifespan of a Roof in Colorado?
Colorado has extreme weather, with severe hail and windstorms that can accelerate any roof’s lifespan. Regardless of manufacturer warranty, how long does the average roof last in Colorado?
The actual lifespan will depend on many variables, including:
- The specific product selected (i.e., asphalt shingle, clay tile, EPDM)
- The thickness of the material (i.e., metal, wood shake, TPO)
- Storm damage that damages the roof (i.e., hail, wind, punctures, or tears)
- Professional installation
While some roofs can last 100 years or more, achieving this milestone requires luck and regular maintenance. Since strong winds and hail are frequent across the Front Range, most homes are affected at some point in time. A correctly installed roof still requires regular maintenance to ensure no minor damage becomes much more extensive.
Asphalt shingles roofs are found on 80% of US homes, primarily since they are the most affordable material. Other products like tile and metal have more robust durability, increasing the roof’s lifespan more than asphalt shingles.
What is the average lifespan of a roof in the Denver metro area? For most asphalt shingle roofs, homeowners should be happy with 20 years or more lifespan. For those who want to invest long-term in their home or business with more premium roofing material, tile (concrete, clay, or slate) and metal (standing seam or stone-coated steel) are excellent choices.
The Value of a Long-Lasting Roof
A new roof and fresh paint have tremendous curb appeal. Changing the color pattern will create a lasting impression on you and your neighbors. What’s great about a new roof is that it can help justify your asking price and increase your home's value.
A long-lasting roof is achieved with regular roof inspections by a trained roofing professional to identify critical maintenance needs and complete these maintenance needs.
It is vital not to overspend on a new roof if you consider selling soon. While a new roof will help sell your home and can increase the home’s value, buying an expensive clay tile roof, for example, in a neighborhood with predominantly 3-tab or basic architectural shingles, will not have a strong return on investment. If you are planning to stay in your home for years to come, spending a bit more may be worth it for your enjoyment.
Upgrading your existing roofing material may only cost a bit more. For example, Class 4 shingles cost slightly more than Class 3 and provide a substantial discount on your homeowners insurance premium.
At Metro City Roofing, we offer free upgrades to Class 4 shingles, which have a longer lifespan, rated 50 years vs. 30 years, and the insurance discount.
If you plan to sell your home soon and your roof is 15 years old or more, you may consider replacing the roof before listing your home. An aged roof will likely be listed as an issue to be corrected by a potential buyer. Replacing it then may delay the home’s sale. Proving that you have recently had your roof inspected and addressed critical maintenance issues can also benefit any seller.
How to Extend the Life of Your Home’s Roof?
Your roof needs proper maintenance to extend your average roof lifespan. Many things can cause damage to your roof over its useful life. Catching minor issues early may avoid much more costly repairs or even a roof replacement.
Every roof is different based on age, condition, materials, pitch, and accessibility. Protecting flashings is critical as most roof leaks occur here. Regular roof inspections by trained professionals will identify concerning issues.
Most homeowners won’t know what to look for or how to complete the needed repairs. Contacting a professional roofing company is the best decision you can make to extend the life of your roof. Not every roofing company will specialize in every material. Look to an expert roofer with experience in the roofing type on your home or business.
We recommend reading and following the below 10 tips to increase your roof’s life expectancy, regardless of whether you intend to do them yourself or hire a roofing professional.
Follow Top 10 Tips to Increase Your Average Roof Life Expectancy
You can do a lot to maximize your roof life expectancy beyond simply buying the best product with the most extended warranty. The average life of a roof is just that, average.
Follow these 10 tips to increase your average roof life expectancy.
Inspect Your Roof Annually
Maximize your roof no matter that roofing material with regular roof inspections performed by a professional roofing company. A licensed roofer will know what to look for during an inspection that many untrained professionals will not. By regularly having your roof inspected and making any necessary roof repairs, you will extend your roof’s lifespan.
Beware of roofing companies that knock on your door following a hailstorm or windstorm are not trained professionals. They are simply playing a numbers game. If you let them on your roof to complete an inspection, they will surely advise that your roof is damaged from the most recent storm and recommend filing a claim. But if the claim is not approved, you won’t ever hear from them again.
At Metro City Roofing, every member of our sales and project management team has earned the All Lines Adjuster license, the same licensing credentials as the insurance adjuster that your insurance company will send to inspect your roof should you file a claim. Only 2% of roofing companies have earned this prestigious license.
You can avoid more costly roof repairs and extend your roof’s lifespan by catching any minor issues early.
Keep the Roof Clean
Hire a professional to keep your roof clean and free from debris like leaves and tree branches. Keeping your roof clean will minimize damage to your roof’s surface. Leaves and tree branches, for example, can lead to algae growth, damaging your roof shingles and penetrating your roof over time.
Avoid ladder safety issues and trust that the licensed and reputable roofing company you’ve hired will inspect for more than just large items and carefully look at all exhaust vents, flashings, etc.
Have Your Gutters Cleaned Regularly
Regular gutter cleaning is essential to efficiently move rainwater off your roof and away from your home’s foundation.
Clogged gutters will do more damage than simply water flowing over your gutters and onto the ground around the property when it rains. Ice will form where any standing water exists in the winter months and weigh down the gutters. The gutters may pull away from your home and fall to the ground with the unplanned additional weight.
Clogged gutters can trap rainwater, rotting the fascia wood and roof deck.
Maintain Adequate Insulation
Attic insulation and ventilation play a critical role in your home and roof’s useful life. A poorly insulated attic will not keep your home’s desired temperature and increase cooling and heating energy costs.
Specific to hot air, insufficient insulation will make your attic extremely hot, causing pressure on the roof and deteriorating your shingles.
At Metro City Roofing, we have earned the Owens Corning Top of the House certification and are specially trained on how a roof, insulation, and ventilation work together to maximize your roof’s lifespan.
Improve Attic Ventilation
Your attic and roof’s ventilation plays a critical role in ensuring cool air enters your home’s attic through intake vents and exits your roof through exhaust vents. Examples of exhaust vents are ridge vents, box vents (often called turtle vents), and soffit vents.
Soffit vents are typically positioned at the lower portions of an attic, whereas roof vents should be installed on the roof near the highest part of the roof to welcome cool air in and flow hot air out.
Local building codes typically require a new roof installation or replacement to meet specific minimum requirements, but this is not always required. For example, the City and County of Denver, CO, states that ventilation will not be inspected on roof replacement projects provided the ventilation met the building code in effect when initially constructed.
In Broomfield, CO, they define that the net free ventilation area shall be 1/150 of the vented attic space. This required net free ventilation area may be reduced to 1/300, provided that the home has a vapor retarder and the ventilating is split between high and low zones per International Roofing Code (IRC) Section R806.2.
Trim any Overhanging Branches
A roofer may need to trim any overhanging branches that touch the roof to complete the work when replacing your roof. But roof replacements are less frequent than how quickly trees can grow around your home. As part of regular home maintenance, we recommend trimming or removing any branches hanging over or touching your roof as noticed on windy days, not just on calm days. It is critical to look at any tree branches that touch your roof during strong winds.
Tree branches can make it easy for pests and rodents to get onto and damage your roof. We have seen rodent nests on roofs, especially in areas sheltered from the wind, especially on lower pitched roofs. Pests can gnaw and damage cables commonly used for solar panels, evaporative coolers (often referred to as swamp coolers), and de-icing cables used in winter to prevent ice dams.
A landscaper may be able to trim your trees, but we recommend hiring a professional roofing company to ensure your roof is best maintained and continues to perform optimally.
Prevent Ice Dams
Ice dams occur in winter months when a home’s attic and roof above a soffit are at a different temperature than inside the home’s attic. Water can trap and freeze as the snow melts above a warmer attic. This trapped water can create ice dams.
The best way to correct this is to ensure sufficient attic insulation and ventilation. Another way is to shovel any collecting snow on your roof, which can be extremely dangerous and not recommended. A third option is to install a de-icing cable that connects to an electrical outlet. The warm coil will melt any snow around the cable and avoid ice collection around your home’s perimeter.
Remove Leaves and Clean Off Moss
Separate from keeping the roof clean, we recommend cleaning off any accumulated leaves. These leaves can trap moisture and can cause minor damage to your roof.
Worse, moss, mildew, and algae growing on your roof can cause trouble. Algae can create unsightly dark streaks on your roof. Mold and mildew can get inside your home and make your air unhealthy.
Some asphalt shingle manufacturers have created algae-resistant shingles to prevent these unsightly streaks. While many homeowners won’t replace their roof just to avoid algae streaks, hire a professional roofer to perform this routine maintenance with warm water, a scrubbing brush, and some muscle.
Fix missing or damaged shingles
Loose, damaged, or missing shingles will likely cause expensive damage inside your home if left alone. Professional roofers will look for these issues during regular maintenance and recommend an action plan. Often, a roofing contractor can reattach loose shingles or tiles and install new shingles where missing. Most of the time, a quality roofer will be able to find an exact or close match.
Of note, natural wood shake shingles will crack, curl, or cup with time. That’s normal, and roof repairs are unnecessary.
Hire a licensed roofing expert to replace and repair any needed shingles before they create much more significant issues inside your home.
Repair any flashings and nail heads
Most roof leaks occur at flashings, at a transition on a roof. A quality roofing company will carefully inspect all flashings to ensure a proper seal. They will also look at all nail heads to check if they are covered with sealant, like silicone or rubber cement.
Over time, silicone or rubber cement will deteriorate, and exposed nail heads and flashings can invite water penetration. Over time, nails can lift partially or wholly, so roofing companies will want to seal any penetration into the roof’s surface.
When another company installs solar panels, an evaporative cooler, or de-icing cables, it is vital to use sealant wherever a nail or screw was installed.
No matter the age of your roof, we recommend hiring a professional roofing company to complete an expert roof inspection and perform regular maintenance. Maintenance is essential to keeping a home or building in the best possible condition and safe. Doing so will also extend the roof’s useful life. Performing preventative maintenance early can save homeowners and building owners in the long run.
How Long Does a 30-Year Roof Really Last?
Many residential and commercial roofing materials have a 30-year lifespan and warranty. But how long does a 30-year roof really last? By design, it should be 30 years. Extreme weather, storms, and insufficient roof maintenance can significantly reduce the roof’s lifespan. Conversely, lack of severe weather, frequent roof inspections, and proper maintenance may allow your roof to outlive its expected lifespan.
Many roof warranties cover a roof for 25, 30, or even 50 years, depending on the type of material, like Class 4 shingles. We recommend carefully reading all manufacturer warranties to learn any requirements for the manufacturer to honor this seemingly excellent warranty. You may have to register your new roof with the manufacturer within a short time, like one year. Your roofing contractor may have had to install several additional roofing materials from the same manufacturer to qualify for the extended warranty. If you are or were unaware, it may be too late.
Some roofing companies have earned additional credentials with select manufacturers and can offer more extended warranties than others. We recommend hiring a professional roofing company for roof inspections, maintenance, and roof replacements.
On average, industry insiders advise that a 30-year rated roofing material will last 22 to 25 years. But the actual lifespan is driven by which region of the US you live in and how frequently and adequately you maintain your roof.
How Often Should You Replace a Roof?
Every roof is designed to last for a specific lifespan. Depending on the product selected and installation quality, manufacturers offer 50-year or even lifetime warranties. Extreme wind can accelerate the need to replace your roof.
How often should you replace your roof? The answer is it depends. A professional roofer can inspect and assess the roof’s quality and how long the roof is likely to last before needing replacement.
Asphalt shingle roofs with substantial granule loss should be replaced once identified as the granules no longer protect the roof as designed and intended. Hail damage is another natural element that can damage and rupture shingles to the point that water damage can occur inside your home or building and necessitate a roof replacement.
Missing or loose shingles, tiles, metal panels, and flat roofs with open seams, punctures, or tears can cause water penetration but may be repairable or require a complete roof replacement. Flat roofs with trapped water under the roof’s membrane are a common sign that the roof and insulation need to be replaced.
While most homeowners and building owners do not upgrade from their existing roof material, a new roof can significantly improve the look of your home or building. In many cases, it not only adds to the curb appeal but increases the property value. And when selling your home or building, a new roof is a strong selling point that won’t delay your closing and can help you sell for top dollar.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Aging Roof?
Many problems can occur on your roof and inside your home without proper maintenance. Unless caught and addressed early, you may need to replace your roof.
We’ve discussed the importance of roof repairs and maintenance, but what happens if you don’t replace your roof when needed?
Water can damage your home inside your attic and interior. Mold and mildew can form and harm your health. Roofs have even been known to collapse and can put your family’s or tenant’s lives in danger.
Choose Professional Roofers for Regular Roof Maintenance to Increase Your Roofing Life Expectancy
Many factors contribute to your roofing life expectancy, including the product selected, quality of installation, proper drainage, regular roof inspections, and roof maintenance.
We strongly encourage homeowners and building owners to hire professional roofers to complete regular roof inspections and roof maintenance to extend their roof’s lifespan, typically every year or following extreme storms.
Identifying and correcting any issues early can extend the roof’s life. Sometimes, roof repairs can simply be applying a sealant to exposed flashings, hail heads, or reattaching several loose shingles. Other times, flat roofs may have open seams, punctures, or tears that trap water under the roof’s membrane.
Depending on the material selected, and especially for custom tile or metal roofs, we recommend buying and storing extra materials so that if you need to replace individual pieces or panels, you can rest assured that you can source a match. Some roofing companies can source old tiles in a “boneyard,” but a perfect match is not guaranteed.
Beyond selecting the right roofing material, finding a trusted, professional roofer is essential to maximizing your roof’s lifespan.
Why Choose Metro City Roofing?
Metro City Roofing is a Colorado roofing company, headquartered in Denver, CO. We specialize in hassle-free professional roofing and will treat your home like our own.
We deliver the best professional roofing services across the Denver metro area. We are proud of the excellent reputation we've earned, with outstanding customer satisfaction, one roof, and one customer at a time.REQUEST FREE ROOF INSPECTION