How Long Does a Roof Last: The Ultimate Guide

Roofs have performed an invaluable function for humans since the dawn of time, whether they were thatched roofs of prehistoric times or the intricately and stunningly designed dome of the Taj Mahal.

While the history of the evolution of roofing materials is fascinating and filled with human ingenuity, at this point there are a standard set of materials to choose from when it comes to putting a roof on your own home.

One important question when deciding what type of roof to install and how much to spend on it is: how long does a roof last?

Let’s take a look at the different materials that roofs are made out of, how long they typically last, how much they cost, and more.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

There are a number of different factors that determine the lifespan of a roof. These include materials, workmanship, and the weather elements in your location.

Many types of roofs typically last longer than 15 years. However, some roof types can hold up well for 50 years or more, assuming the absence of a large fallen tree or a serious storm.

The price range for roofing is quite broad. As you might expect, the more expensive roofing materials typically last longer than the cheaper materials.

When discussing the cost of roofing, you’ll hear the phrase “per square” a lot. A “square” is 100 square feet in roofing terms.

Lower-end roofing materials might cost $70 per square, while higher-end materials can cost as much as $1,500 per square. At the higher end, sometimes the roofing materials can even last longer than the house itself!

How Long Does a Shingle Roof Last?

There are several different common types of shingles, each of which have a different price point and can last different amounts of time. Let’s take a look at how long asphalt, architectural, and wood shingles last.

How Long Do Asphalt Shingles Last?

The most common type of roofing material that is sold today is asphalt shingles. The reason material is so popular is because it is affordable and typically includes warranties up to 25 years.

These shingles are made of fiberglass that has ceramic and asphalt granules on both sides. The asphalt, which is often mixed with minerals, is waterproof, while the fiberglass provides the strength. The ceramic granules help to deflect UV light and also give the shingles their color.

This material is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and lightweight. There are three basic categories of asphalt shingles.

The cheapest and thinnest are standard, entry-level 3-tab shingles. The next category is architectural shingles, which we’ll discuss in the next section. The thickest and most expensive are multilayered architectural shingles, which look similar to wood shakes when installed.

Asphalt shingles average $70-$150 per square. They are made out of a combination of ingredients, including cement fibers and organic materials.

On average, these shingles last 15 to 30 years.

How Long Do Architectural Shingles Last?

Architectural shingles are up to three times thicker than asphalt shingles, even though they seal in the same way that asphalt shingles do (by featuring a layer of black asphalt on the underside that forms a watertight seal.)

Per square, these roofs cost $250-$400. They are considered more stylish and attractive than asphalt shingles. Some warranties might last as long as 30 years. On average, this premium version of asphalt shingles will last between 25 and 30 years.

How Long Do Wood Shingles Last?

The preferred choice for a wood shingle roof is cedar. This is because cedar is insect-resistant and rot-resistant. Cedar shingles look particularly good on cottage-style homes and Tudor homes, but they really can look great on just about any house.

These shingles weather over time to become a lovely, soft silvery gray. It isn’t uncommon to find some split or warped shingles because this is a natural product.

It is important to inspect a wood shingle roof annually, as any split shingles that are found should be replaced immediately.

Wood shingle roofs cost between $250 and $600 per square and they can last up to 30 years, though they require annual upkeep.

How Long Does a Metal Roof Last?

You can find metal roofing in a wide range of price and quality. The cheapest metal roofing costs around $115 per square and the highest quality metal roofing costs up to $900 per square. The lower end of metal roofing is standing seam panels in steel or aluminum and the higher and are standing seam copper panels or stone coated steel tiles.

You can find metal roofing in aluminum, steel, copper, and alloy strips. It comes in a variety of textures and shapes. These roofs can be quite noisy during a rainstorm, but it can also help to keep your house cooler during the summer as it reflects the sun’s rays.

The thicker the gauge of metal roofing, the more durable the roof will be. Thinner metal roofs will last between 20 and 25 years, while thicker, high-end metal roofing can easily last more than 50 years.

Depending on the quality of the material, manufacturers offer warranties that range from 20 years to a lifetime warranty.

How Long Does a Clay Tile Roof Last?

Clay tile roofing is popular in the southwestern United States, where it is often found in both terra-cotta tones. However, clay tiles are actually available in a variety of earthy colors.

Clay tile roofing can cost between $600 and $800 per square. This type of roofing is low maintenance and durable, and warranties are often offered by manufacturers for time spans between 30 years and a lifetime.

This type of roofing can easily last for 50 years.

How Long Does a Slate Tile Roof Last?

Slate is a type of metamorphic stone that has a fine-grained appearance. It is the perfect material for being cut into roofing tiles that are uniform.

This is a more expensive roofing option. The price can range from $600-$1500 per square. However, this type of roofing is incredibly durable and can retain its beauty and structural integrity against just about anything Mother Nature throws at it.

You will often find warranties from manufacturers that range between 50 years to a lifetime for slate tile roofs. These tiles can easily be replaced if they ever were to break.

However, there is a downside to slate tile roofs in addition to the cost. These tiles are heavy, and standard roof framing isn’t built to support the weight of a slate roof. In order to install slate tile roofing, the roof’s rafters must be built to sustain a heavier load.

If you do have a slate tile roof, it can last 100 years or even longer.

When to Replace a Roof

If you have experienced a catastrophic disaster or major weather events like a tornado, hurricane, or house fire, then you likely already know that you will need to work with your insurance company to do the necessary repair or replacement work.

However, you still might need to replace your roof if you haven’t had to deal with a significant disaster. Due to the type of roof, its age, or other issues such as humidity or overhanging trees causing damage, it might be time for a roof replacement.

Signs That You Need a New Roof

There are a number of warning signs that you can look for that will let you know if it is time to replace your roof. While some of the signs might mean that you only need to repair your roof, some might indicate that a completely new roof is in order.

Light in Your Attic

If there is visible light coming into your locked door attic, it is a sign that your roof might need some attention. It’s possible that your roof has missing or cracked shingle. You’ll want to take a look at the exterior of your house for any signs that your roof is damaged.

If you do find any concerning signs, you will want to ask a professional to inspect your roof. It’s important to understand that if sunlight can get into your home, other things like water and vermin likely can to.

For this time, it’s possible that you will only need a repair. Depending on the extent of the damage, it might be time to replace your roof.

Age of Your Roof

In general, most roofs can last for 20 to 25 years. As mentioned earlier in the article, there are a number of materials that can last longer than this. However, weather conditions and other factors can impact the longevity of your roof.

The Shingles Don’t Lay Flat

If you notice that your shingles don’t lay flat, it means that they are likely damaged. It’s possible that they weren’t installed correctly or that water damage has made an impact.

If you believe that bad installation is the culprit, you will want to contact your roofer to discuss what your options are. There also might be insurance options that are related to claims of faulty workmanship.

In the case of weather-related issues or water damage, you might only have to replace a small portion of your roof.

Some Shingles Are Missing

If some of your roof shingles are missing, you will want to hire a professional to replace them. There is a possibility, though, that there are underlying issues such as damage to your entire roof or a faulty installation that might mean that you need an entire roof replacement.

Your Roof Is Leaking

It is never a good time to have a leaky roof. Blocked gutters, missing shingles, and other occurrences can lead to leaks in your roof.

You will want to hire a professional right away if you notice that your roof is leaking. If you do not deal with a leaking roof, it can cause problems like water damage, mildew, mold, and more.

If your roof is leaking, a full replacement is likely your best option.

The Roof Is Sagging or Drooping

Either deep water damage or structural issues can lead to a sagging roof. A professional can install extra struts or rafters if your roof just needs some more structural stability in your attic. However, if your roof is too heavy for the structure of your home, you’ll want to replace your roof with a lighter material.

If deep water damage is the cause of your sagging roof, then you will still want to replace it.

Moss, Mold, or Fungus on Your Roof

If there is moss, mold, or fungus growing on your roof, it is pointing to the presence of excess moisture. It is typically the best option to replace your roof. However, a deep cleaning might be enough if the moisture and growth are just on the exterior of the roof and haven’t made it into your home.

The presence of moss might only require that your roof undergo a deep cleaning. The presence of fungi or mold, though, might require a full roof replacement.

Fungus or Mold Inside Your House

If there is mold or fungi growing in your home, it is a sign of water damage. You will want to treat this as soon as possible because it can cause illness and can cause further damage. Your family can suffer health issues from the presence of mold inside your home as it is harmful to the respiratory system.

Water Stains in Your House

If there are water stains on your ceilings on the upper floor of your home, there is a good chance that your roof is leaking. If left untreated, the problem can get worse with increasing staining as well as the growth of mold or fungus.

If you notice that there are water stains on the lower floors of your home, it’s possible that the issue has to do with leaky pipes that you will also want to tend to right away.

If your roof is leaking, a full replacement of your roof is often the best choice.

The Paint Is Peeling in Your House

Peeling paint on your ceiling or walls is another sign of water damage. This is more common on cement walls. Peeling paint as a result of a leaking roof can appear anywhere, but you are more likely to see them in your basement or garage.

You might only have to replace a small part of your roof depending on the reach of the water damage. However, it’s possible that you will have to replace the entire roof.

Granules in Your Gutters

As your shingles age, the granules start to become loose. It’s not a huge deal to have a few granules in your gutter. However, if you notice that they are constantly shedding off of your roof, you will want to hire a professional to take a look.

Check for an excess of granules when you are cleaning your gutters. After inclement weather and as the roof ages, they will likely shed more. These granules are a part of what helps to protect your roof from the elements, so take excessive shedding as a sign that it’s time for a replacement.

Hail Damage

In most cases of hail damage, a professional should be able to either replace a small section of your roof or repair it. If the hail cuts through your shingles and roof, however, it might mean that your roof needs to be replaced with a stronger material.

Obstructed Drainage

Your gutters exist to allow water to drain off of your roof and away from your home. However, vermin and greenery can make their home in your gutters if you don’t clean them regularly. If you notice gutter issues, a deep cleaning can often solve the problem.

It’s also important to look for any obstructions in the valleys of your roofs. A valley is formed wherever different pieces of roof meet each other. These valleys typically allow water to flow from the roof to the gutters, but if there is an obstruction it can block water from flowing in the desired direction.

Damaged Chimney Flashing

Your home could be vulnerable to pest invasions or water damage if the flashing around your chimney is damaged. It’s a good idea to hire a professional if you notice that your flashing is looking a little worse for wear.

If you don’t deal with the problem when you notice it, it’s likely to get worse. It could end up meaning that ou have to replace both your chimney and the area of your home around it. It’s also important that your chimney isn’t wet, as it can cause your fireplace to be wet as well.

Your Neighbors Are Replacing Their Roofs

This sign only works if you live in a neighborhood where many of the homes were built around the same time. If you do live in a neighborhood like this, though, keep an eye out for multiple neighbors replacing their roofs around the same general time. If you do notice this, it might mean that your roof has also reached the end of its lifespan.

How Can You Tell If Your Roof Is Defective?

Is your roof relatively new but you’re already seeing issues like granules coming off, shingles buckling and curling, or missing shingles? If so, it’s possible that your roof might be defective or the installation was not done properly. IF this is the case, you will likely want to reach out to your insurance company as well as the roofers who installed the roof.

It can be frustrating to have a roof that is only a few years old that you are already noticing potential issues with. However, it’s important to get the problem looked at right away, as it could lead to bigger issues.

What to Consider When Replacing a Roof

There are a number of things you will want to consider when you are replacing your roof.

One is the resistance of the type of roof to wind uplift. Wind uplift is the suction effect that is created by wind forces when air is flowing in a parallel direction to the roof’s surface. These types of wind can create a pressure differential that can damage or blow off shingles or tiles.

When shopping for roofing styles, different systems are rated based on how much wind uplift they can withstand. This rating system is measured in miles per hour.

If your home is in a location that is prone to hurricanes or tornadoes, or is particularly windy, you’ll want to make sure the roof you install has a higher rating for wind uplift.

Some of the other factors you will want to consider include:

  • The style of your home
  • Whether you’re installing a replacement roof or a roof on a brand new structure
  • How long you plan to own the property
  • State building codes
  • Municipality requirements and residential community covenants
  • Your climate and environmental surroundings
  • Aesthetics
  • Functionality
  • Energy efficiency
  • Underlayment options

Many of the questions you will have when you are replacing your roof can be answered by a professional who can perform a roof inspection.

Is It Time For You to Get Your Roof Inspected?

Now that you know the answer to how long does a roof last? you are better equipped to make an informed decision about how to move forward with your roofing needs. However, there are many things that you can’t know about the current state of your roof without having a qualified professional come out and perform an inspection.

At Point Roofing and Restoration, we have a longstanding reputation for unmatched experience and great customer service. With over a decade of experience in the Boise area, we have expertise in all types of roofing repairs and installations. Contact us today for a free inspection and quote!

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