How Long Does a Roof Last? Top Signs You Need a New Roof
If you are in the process of buying a new home, you probably want to know the age of the roof and how much longer it will last. Similarly, if you’ve lived in your home for a while, you are probably also wondering about the current condition of the roof and whether it’s time to consider some viable replacement options.
This guide outlines the expected lifespans of most popular roofing systems for homes. Print it out and use it to assess the life expectancy of any roof when buying a new home or planning for future roof replacement needs in your own home.
Right Off the Bat: A typical asphalt shingle roof will last anywhere from 15 to 25 years before requiring replacement.
That said, there are several different kinds of asphalt shingles, as well as other roofing materials to consider when estimating longevity of a particular roofing system. Let’s get started.
1. Asphalt Shingles
3 tab shingle is the most basic and least costly asphalt shingle option for slopped roofs. A typical 3-tab asphalt shingle roof will last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
Cracks or thermal splitting in asphalt shingles
3-tab shingles are an OK option for temperate climates, but they are not at all suitable for storm-prone areas. The maximum wind-uplift a 3-tab shingle roof can withstand is 60 MPH to 70 MPH.
Note: When exposed to strong, direct sunlight and rapid temperature changes (thermal shocks) commonly associated with southern states and dessert climate zones (think Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, and parts of California dessert), asphalt shingles can develop cracks, resulting in a greatly diminished lifespan and premature failure.
Architectural aka Dimensional Shingles are thicker and hence more durable and longer-lasting than their entry-level counterparts, three tab shingles. Most architectural shingle roofs will last anywhere from 15 to 25 years, depending on their environment.
Maximum wind uplift for most architectural shingle products is 110 MPH. With a special installation method and roof-frame bracing, the wind uplift rating can be increased to 130 MPH.
Premium Shingles are normally fancier-looking asphalt shingles designed for premium homes. A premium shingle is normally thicker and will last longer than a mid-range architectural shingle. Expected lifespan of a premium shingle roof is anywhere from 20 to 30 years, depending on the environment.
GAF Premium Asphalt Shingles: Camelot Williamsburg Slate
Wind uplift ratings for premium shingles are similar to architectural shingles. Premium shingles can also include special properties such as enhanced solar reflectance aka CoolRoof rating and impact resistance for hail prone areas.
See more details on various types of premiums shingles here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/gaf-vs-certainteed-roofing-shingles/
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: If the asphalt shingles on your roof have developed major cracks, lost a lot of sand granules, are chipping and look dried-up or curled up, then you know it’s time for a new roof.
If the shingles are still in a seemingly good shape, but the roof has sustained significant storm or hail damage, then it’s probably time to consider replacement or partial replacement.
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2. Metal Roofing
Standing Seam is the most popular residential metal roofing system featuring concealed fasteners. When installed correctly, a typical standing seam metal roof will last anywhere from 30 to 50 years.
Premium metals such as stainless steel, titanium, zinc, and copper can last well over 100 years.
Standing seam metal roofs, depending on the profile and metal thickness, can have a wind uplift rating ranging from 90 MPH to 150 MPH. 110 MPH is a common wind uplift rating for most standing seam roofs.
Did you know? PV solar panels can be easily mounted on a standing seam roof, without having to drill any holes. More details here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/roof-issues-to-address-before-installing-solar-panels/
Metal Shingles are another popular metal roofing option for homes. Metal shingles are normally 20% to 30% less expensive compared to standing seam. More details here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/metal-roofing-cost/
Metal shingle roofs offer similar durability and longevity and wind uplift ratings as standing seam.
Ribbed Metal Panels are a more affordable metal roofing option for homes. When looking for a value-priced metal roof, it’s always a good idea to make sure you are getting a system comprised of Kynar 500 coated metal panels, not acrylic, unless you want to deal with peeling paint and discoloration issues.
Ribbed panels can be a good option for a steeper gable style roof. With proper installation, you can expect a 25 to 40 years lifespan from a ribbed metal roof with exposed fasteners.
A ribbed metal panel roofing system featuring concealed fasteners will offer a longer lifespan ranging from 30 to 50 years, depending on the environment.
Stone-coated Steel Tiles are another popular metal roofing option, especially in Florida.
Gerard stone-coated steel-tile roof – Barrel Vault Profile
Available as Galvalume or Galvanized Steel, stone-coated steel tiles are a light-weight, durable, and long-lasting alternative to shingles and traditional tiles.
With the wind uplift ratings ranging from 110 MPH to 155 MPH, and an expected lifespan of 30 to 50 years, a stone coated metal roof is an excellent, light-weight roofing option for hurricane prone environments.
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Major discoloration and chipping or peeling paint accompanied by excessive, widespread rust. If there are visible signs of excessive roof leaks — stained ceilings and water buckets strategically placed in the attic, or there are leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs, such as reflashing a chimney or skylight, then it’s time to consider replacement.
3. Concrete and Clay Tiles
Clay tiles are an excellent roofing option for premium homes. Clay tiles are heavy and require a specially-designed roof frame to support the weight of the roof.
A properly installed clay tile roof should last anywhere from 50 to 100 years.
Spanish style clay tile roof on a stucco home in Florida
Clay tiles normally have really good wind uplift ratings, but cracked and lose or missing tile pieces can create a hazardous situation during a hurricane.
Concrete tiles are similar to clay tiles in many regards including their heavy weight. They are however a less costly tile roofing option, with an expected lifespan of 40 to 75 years.
Boral Saxony 900 Hartford Slate concrete tile – Toffee
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Many cracked or loose tiles and/or leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs.
4. Cedar Shingles and Shakes
Comparable in cost to metal roofing, cedar shingles and shakes are a common roofing option for beach homes and cape code style houses. Cedar shake roofs are designed to last 20 to 35 years on average. With regular maintenance, however, a cedar shake roof can last around 40 years.
A wind uplift rating of 110 MPH or higher can be achieved with a proper installation of cedar shingle/shake roof.
Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time to Consider Replacement Cracked wood shingles or leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs.
5. Natural Slate
Slate roofs are notoriously expensive, heavy, and long-lasting. A quality slate roof can last anywhere from 50 to 100 years.
Slate roofs are commonly installed on premium homes and fancy McMansions.
Slate roofs have excellent wind uplift properties, but a few pieces of slate flying off of a roof during a hurricane can be dangerous due to their weight and sharp edges.
More info on performance of slate roofs during hurricanes can be found here: http://www.traditionalroofing.com/TR5_hurricane.html
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Cracked, missing, or loose slates, or leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs.
6. Composite Roofs
Synthetic composite shingles and tiles are made to resemble natural slate tiles and cedar shakes. Composite tiles are strong, light-weight, and with proper installation can last 30 to 50 years or longer. Cost-wise, they are comparable to standing seam metal roofs.
A synthetic composite tile roofing system such as that from DaVinci is rated to withstand straight line winds of up to 110 MPH and hurricane grade wind uplift.
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Roof leaks that don’t respond to repairs.
7. EPDM Rubber
We are cognizant of the fact that some homes have nearly flat or low-sloped roofs, which is why we included popular roofing membranes in our list of roofing systems and their expected lifespan.
EPDM rubber is one of the most common flat roofing membranes on residential homes in the US. It’s not particularly strong nor long lasting due to its weakest point; the seams.
EPDM Rubber installed on a flat roof by GemTile
EPDM roofs are either glued at the seams or have tape connecting the seams. In either case, the seams are a common point of failure in EPDM roofs. Expected lifespan before requiring a repair or maintenance — normally repairing leaky seams, is 5 to 15 years.
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Major membrane punctures and/or excessive roof leaks from widespread failure around the seams.
8. PVC and TPO Membranes
Both PVS and TPO membranes are single-ply roofing systems offering a more durable and longer-lasting alternative to EPDM rubber. Thanks to the thickness of their reinforced membranes and hot air welded seams forming a permanent bond at the seams, PVC and TPO roofs can last twice as long as EPDM rubber.
Energy Efficient, Solar-Reflective PVC membrane on a flat roof
A lifespan of 20 to 30 years is what you can expect from these energy-efficient and long-lasting single ply membrane roofs.
Pro Tip: If your home is located in a hurricane zone, then you should opt for a fully-adhered rather than mechanically-attached single-ply membrane.
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Age approaching 30 years, loss of membrane thickness or hot air weldability with PVC, major cuts or roof damage from a fallen tree, and/or multiple, untraceable leaks that don’t respond to remedial repairs.