What is the Average Life of a Roof?

Shingle roof house

When people ask about the average life of a roof, the answer should vary widely because of several factors that make one roof different from the next. While a three-tab asphalt shingled roof will last between 15 and 18 years, that’s not going to be the case with every roof of that material, and this is due to a number of issues, including the quality of the materials being used, weather and the skill level of the contractors who put it on.

Top factors that affect your roof’s lifespan

From modified bitumen and concrete tiles to metal and asphalt shingles – assuming the manufacturer of the material is offering a quality product, they all have different lifespans.

Let’s go through some factors that will influence the average life of a roof:

Color

A roof made with dark materials will absorb more heat, which shortens the roof lifetime. Lighter colored shingles reflect the light and stay cooler.

Angle/slope

While a higher pitched roof is more difficult to work with for installers, these tend to last longer because moisture is more likely to quickly run off the surface.

Orientation of roof surface

A roof slope facing south will get more sunlight, particularly if there are no shade trees, which means it will absorb more heat and have a shorter life.

Multiple-layer roof

A roof installed over an existing roof will have a shorter life.

Quality of roof material

The adage that “you get what you pay for” is true in “economy” roof materials, as they will have a shorter life.

Installation

Sloppy or improper installation shortens roof life.

Attic ventilation

An unventilated or poorly ventilated attic reduces roof lifespan due to the fact that moisture is not properly vented.

Trees near roof

Tree branches rubbing on a roof or the acidity from the accumulation of leaf debris on a roof shortens its life. However, shade trees blocking harsh UV rays can help extend the life of a roof.

Harsh climate

Severe weather, including harsh winters and hot summers, along with big temperature swings within a 24-hour period, also shorten a roof’s lifespan because of the expansion and contraction of roof materials.

What’s the typical life cycle of a roof?

As with other materials on the average home, such as siding, windows and the foundation, there are various influences that impact life cycle of the roof.

  • New roof

    Roofing professionals refer to a new roof as one that is two years old or younger. While a roof covered in asphalt shingles can last 18 years or longer, the protective granules begin to come loose and fall off in inclement weather and while aging, which is why after a couple of years, the “new roof” designation is dropped.
  • Roof maintenance period

    Anything less than a full replacement can be considered maintenance, which usually can begin between 2 and 15 years of the roof being installed. Maintenance is important if you are going to make it through the total lifespan of a roof.
  • Re-roofing

    Considering you’ve worked with a contractor to properly maintain your roof, by year 15 you’ll need to begin considering re-roofing. In the best case scenario, this consideration period can go on for years and year with no re-roofing required.

Roof installation process affecting roof lifetime and durability

Carefully vetting your roofing contractors is important, because if you land an inexperienced contractor, there is a higher chance that they’ll not install it properly, which is the number one factor in determining how long it will protect your property. For example, if you’re having a metal roof installed, the temperature fluctuations cause the material to contract and expand, and your contractor has to know the exact allowances to make for that movement.

Lifespan of a roof after hail storms and wind damage

Hail can knock down crops by the bushel and tear apart your landscaping, but it can also have a negative impact on your roof. In some cases, you won’t even be able to see it, but the damage is there. The lifespan of your roof following a heavy windstorm and/or hail depends on the severity of the damage. When hail hits your shingles, it leaves a divot, which allows moisture to pool. Hail and wind can also knock off the protective granules, drastically reducing the lifespan of the roof. Always contact your roofing contractor following a storm and schedule an inspection.

House damage

Roof inspection and maintenance regularity

You probably get the oil checked in your car on a regular basis, and in most states, you have to get the entire car inspected every year. Why wouldn’t you do the same with your roof – the most important factor protecting the contents of your home, which is likely five times the value of a new automobile? A qualified roofing inspector will check for cracked caulk or rusted flashing. They’ll look at the shingles to check for buckling or blistering and look at the rubber boots around the vent pipes to ensure they’re sound. With regular inspections and necessary repairs, you can expect your roof to protect your home for many years.

Longest lasting roofing materials

Assuming the materials are of sound quality, were installed onto your home properly and are regularly inspected and repaired, there is an informal guide to go by in regard to how long each type will last. Here’s an example of what you can expect out of each material type:

  • Asphalt Shingles that are 3-tab usually last from 15 to 18 years.
  • Architectural asphalt shingles can last between 24 to 30 years.
  • Metal roofing material is enduring and can last from 30 to 45 years.
  • Concrete tile has longevity as well and can last from 35 to 50 years.
  • Modified Bitumen or Built-Up Roof membranes (BUR) refer to tar and gravel roofs that are made up of layers of bitumen and reinforcing materials that help create a finished membrane. This type of roof can last anywhere from 10 to 16 years.
  • EPDM (synthetic rubber membrane) is a durable oil and natural gas derivative of ethylene and propylene utilized in low-slope roof construction. It can last anywhere from 10 to 16 years.

Average life of asphalt shingles roof

Asphalt shingles are the most popular material covering properties today. They’ve been in use since the 1920s and have been improved upon by manufacturers over the decades to a point where they are reliable for up to 18 years, perhaps longer depending on how they’re installed and maintained, which means the life of a shingle roof can vary, but the average falls between 15 and 18 years. The core component of asphalt shingles is petroleum, but they are hardened with cement fibers and durable mineral fibers, which adds to roof life cycle.

Family house after asphalt shingle roofing replacement

Life expectancy of cedar shake roof

Nothing really compares to the look of a cedar shake roof, but cedar shake roof life expectancy depends on how the product is made and how it’s installed. According to the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau, pressure-treated shakes will last longer than non-pressure treated shakes. The Bureau also says that thick-cut shakes will last longer than thin cedar shingles. If installed properly, maintained, treated and don’t encounter successive, massive windstorms and hail, cedar shake can last 30 to 40 years.

House photo after cedar shake roofing maintenance

Professional roofing contractor for your long life roof

Whether it’s asphalt shingles, a cedar shake roof or anything in between, the contractor you choose to install it factors heavily in how long that roof system will protect your property. At VIS Exterior, we’ve earned a reputation for complete dedication to customer service. Our experience installing roofing systems is what gives our clients the confidence to select VIS, but it’s the results of the work that has them referring us to their friends and family. Contact us and let’s talk about your roofing project and why we’re the contractor you need.