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How Long Does a Roof Last? (Based On Material)

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Leroy Whitt

You probably wouldn’t buy a car if you knew it would only last for a couple of years. When making a significant investment into anything, you want to know what you’re signing up for. The same applies when you need a roof replacement.

You may be wondering how many years you have left on your current roof and what the best investment is moving forward. Not all roofing materials were created equal, so we’ll be answering, “how long does a roof last?” based on each specific material option. Take a look!

Asphalt Shingles: 15-25 Years

Asphalt shingle roofs are a safe choice— you really can’t go wrong with the most popular roofing material in the country! Even though the lifespan of asphalt shingles isn’t as long as other materials, homeowners are still drawn to this material because it’s:

  • Affordable 💰
  • Aesthetically-pleasing 🤩
  • Lightweight ⚖️
  • Easy to install ⚒️

For many homeowners, the upfront cost is a primary concern when they need a new roof. If that’s a concern for you as well, you’ll still get 15 good years out of your shingle roof with proper maintenance.

how long does a roof last asphalt shingles

After an asphalt shingle roof has reached its tenth birthday, you need to pay extra careful attention to it. Ideally, you’ll perform regular roof maintenance over the years, but when your shingle roof is 10 years or older, you’ll need to be meticulous. This includes scheduling roof inspections after any major wind or hail storm to look for damage and regular cleaning of your gutters and shingles to uphold their integrity.

One way to get more years out of an asphalt shingle roof is to opt for architectural shingles (also called laminated or dimensional shingles). Not only are these shingles beautiful to look at, but they’re more durable than standard 3-tab shingles. The life expectancy of architectural asphalt shingles is up to 30 years.

Metal Roofing: 40-70 Years

Let’s get a drumroll for the up-and-coming popular roofing material: metal! 🥁

If your first instinct is to think that metal roofs are only for barns, we want to challenge your perspective. Metal roofs are quickly growing in popularity in the residential world, partly because they typically last 40-70 years!

Not only does this sought-after material have an impressive lifespan, but it also offers a slew of other benefits, including:

  • Fire-resistant
  • Sleek aesthetics
  • More affordable than other long-lasting roofing materials
  • Low-maintenance
  • Quick installation
  • Can mimic other roofing materials like slate or clay tiles

You have design options when it comes to metal roofing. You can go with the classic, sleek standing seam panels that give off a quintessential “metal” look. Or, you can choose metal shingles that look similar to other materials like clay tiles, asphalt shingles, or slate. Opting for metal shingles is a great way to get the style of a different material with the price and durability of a metal roof.

how long does a roof last metal shingles

If you’re tired of replacing your roof frequently, a metal roof is a fantastic option to move forward with. With a manageable upfront cost, you won’t have to get another roof replacement for decades! Plus, metal roofs are a huge selling point if you ever decide to sell your home.

Cedar Shakes: 20-30 Years

If having a unique, visually-appealing roof is your #1 focus, then you may be interested in a cedar shakes roof. Cedar shakes, or wood shingles, are a type of premium roofing material. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, the difference between wood shakes and shingles is that shakes are hand-split.

Cedar shakes can last 20-30 years, but keep in mind that a wood roof requires a lot of hands-on maintenance. Cedar shakes can be more prone to rot and pests than other roofing materials. In order to keep your roof in top condition, follow these maintenance tips:

  • Get protective treatments every 1-3 years
  • Trim overhanging branches
  • Remove debris from the roof
  • Regularly clean your gutters
  • Schedule professional cleanings every 5 years
  • Have a professional fix missing or cracked shakes immediately
  • Schedule roof inspections after any major storm event
how long does a roof last cedar shakes

If you’re willing to put in the work for this higher-maintenance material, you can enjoy a beautiful, unique roof. (You can also opt for a more affordable and low-maintenance solution with architectural shingles if you like the look of cedar shakes but don’t want to keep up with the maintenance.)

Flat Roofing: 15-20 Years

Flat roofs are most common on commercial buildings, such as:

  • Retail stores
  • Apartment buildings
  • Office parks
  • Medical clinics
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Banks
  • Warehouses
  • And more!
how long does a roof last flat roof

There are actually many types of flat roofing materials, but on average, you can expect a flat roof to last roughly 15-20 years. The breakdown of specific flat roof materials is:

  • BUR (Built Up Roofing): 15-20 years
  • Modified Bitumen: 10-15 years
  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer): 10-20 years
  • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin): 10-20 years
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Up to 30 years

If you want to get a few more years out of your commercial flat roof, you can schedule something called flat roof coating. A coating helps stop leaks, reduce energy consumption, and extend the life of your roof for half the cost of a replacement.

Clay Tiles: 75-100 Years

Here in Georgia, clay tile roofs aren’t as popular as they are in desert regions, but these roofs are still found across the country. With an impressive lifespan of 75-100 years and a beautiful terracotta color, clay tiles are definitely a premium material.

how long does a roof last clay tiles

Keep in mind that clay and concrete tiles are both much heavier than more common roofing materials like asphalt shingles and metal. If you’re considering this material for your home, be sure that your home has the structural support in place to hold up a roof of this nature.

You’ll also need to budget significantly for a clay tile roof. Their impressive lifespans come with a price tag to match! But on the other hand, if you’re thinking of purchasing a home with an existing clay tile roof, you’ve hit the jackpot (as long as the roof isn’t nearing 100 years of age).

Slate Tiles: 100-200 Years

Last but not least, we have the “forever roof”— slate tiles! While slate tiles aren’t very common in the U.S. due to their expensive upfront cost and laborious installation process, you may have noticed them if you’ve ever taken a trip to Europe.

Slate tiles are literally natural stones made from volcanic ash and clay that get quarried out of the earth. 🤯 When you consider the nature of slate tiles, it makes sense why they’re so expensive! (A slate roof replacement will often cost around $40,000.)

how long does a roof last slate tiles

This is hands down the longest-lasting roofing material on the market— you’ll get at least 100 years out of a slate roof, but up to 200 years! If you’re determined to have the highest-quality roof possible, start budgeting for slate.

Not only will you never need another roof replacement, but slate offers other benefits like:

  • Beautiful aesthetics
  • Completely fire resistant
  • Low maintenance
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Energy-efficient
  • Mold resistant

Keep in mind that, like clay or concrete tiles, slate tiles are very heavy. (Remember— they’re rocks! 🪨) Schedule time with a home inspector to ensure your house can support the weight of slate tiles before moving forward.

Start Things Off With a Free Estimate

You might be feeling a little overwhelmed if you’re not sure which roofing material to choose for your upcoming roof replacement. You can get the guidance you need by calling the professional roofing team at Whitt’s Quality Roofing.

A crew member will promptly visit your property, provide a free roofing inspection, and write up a detailed estimate for a roof replacement. Whether you’re curious about asphalt shingles, metal roofing, or anything else, our knowledgeable team will walk you through prices, maintenance needs, and the best suggestions for your home.

Then, you’ll get to browse through catalogs of different manufacturers and colors to ultimately choose the perfect roofing material for your home.Contact Whitt’s today for a free roof inspection to get started!

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