How long does a roof last – and the signs that yours needs replacing
How long does a roof last? It’s an important question because a solid roof is fundamental to the integrity of your home, and if a roof isn’t replaced when needed, you can expose yourself to a host of other costs besides paying for a new roof.
The life of your roof will be affected by what it’s made of, the conditions where you live, and how well it’s installed in the first place, but we’ve got an overview of all the different types and the factors that can shorten its life. We tell you how to judge whether it is time to replace it as well.
Just scroll down for the answers to all your questions about the life of your roof, and for everything you need to know about home renovation, check out our expert guide.
How often should a roof be replaced?
Let’s start with the good news. Roofs generally have a good long life. The flip side of the coin is, of course, that the roof of your home may have been there for many years.
A roof’s life expectancy depends on the material it’s made of, so here’s what you need to know for each type.
How long do asphalt shingles last?
In the US, asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material. They are expected to last between 15 and 25 years, but keep in mind that there are different types of asphalt shingles.
The cheapest three-tab asphalt shingles will likely have a lifespan of about 15 to 20 years. More expensive are architectural or dimensional shingles, but they can last up to about 25 years and can withstand more testing weather conditions. The most expensive premium versions can last up to 30 years and withstand the highest maximum wind loads.
How long do wood shakes and shingles last?
The life of a wooden roof can be up to 30 or 40 years, depending on the type of wood. It is often cedar that is used because it resists both rot and insects.
Regular maintenance of a wooden roof is necessary for the longest possible life, including cleaning and staining.
How long do clay and concrete roof tiles last?
Clay roof tiles can have a long life of 50 to 100 years, while concrete – which costs less – can offer a life of 40 to 75 years, so they are both very durable.
How long do slate roof tiles last?
Slate tiles are another long-lasting roofing material. We are talking about periods of about 50 to 100 years.
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The life of a metal roof depends on the type of metal used. Copper or zinc roofing and other high-quality metals can last more than 50 years and even 100 years, and while the installation is expensive, they will pay for the investment.
The cheapest metal roof is made of ribbed panels and one of them should have a lifespan of between 25 and 40 years. Standing seam metal roofing can last 50 years.
Stone coated metal tiles are also available, which are often chosen in areas subject to hurricanes. They can last 30 to 50 years.
How long does a thatched roof last?
The life of a thatched roof varies depending on the material of the thatched roof, ranging from 15 to over 40 years. However, keep in mind that the ridge of a thatched roof needs to be replaced every 10 years.
How do I know if my roof needs to be replaced?
You have to replace a roof after a catastrophic event like a house fire, hurricane or tornado, but even aside from disasters like this, a roof needs to be replaced on time.
Signs that an asphalt shingled roof may need to be replaced include seeing cracked, bent, or curled roofs. They can also lose grains, which you can see in gutters.
Wood shakes and shingles can split or rot, show damage, or show mold or algae growth.
If you have a clay tile roof, watch out for cracked or chipped tiles. You can also detect leaks in the attic.
Watch out for missing slate roof shingles along with cracks, and check the attic for water stains.
If your roof is a metal roof, problems may arise in the attic or you may notice discoloration or rust.
Note a thatched roof on raised netting and clear fixings on the ridge, plus ridges and potholes on the roof, as well as moss and lichen growth.
Check your roof regularly and call in a professional for advice on whether repair is sufficient or replacement is necessary.
How long do roofs last in the US vs the UK?
Roofs may have a shorter lifespan in the US than in the UK. The main materials used for roofing in the UK are slate, clay and concrete tiles, materials with a longer lifespan than the asphalt shingles most commonly used in the US.
Another factor that affects how long a roof will last is the environmental conditions in a particular region: high winds, extreme temperatures, and major weather events can all affect a roof’s lifespan. Intense heat waves and major hurricanes and snow storms are not events the UK is known for and so the life of roofs is not shortened by these events.
To get the longest life for your roof in the US, consider the different roofing materials in relation to the climate. “If you live in the more humid parts of the US, such as Florida or Louisiana, I recommend that you opt for reflective metal or terracotta for your roofing,” said Volodymyr Barabakh, co-founder and project director of BM International Builders. ‘These protect the wooden frame of the roof against heat damage as well as being moisture resistant.’
Phillip Ash, founder of Pro Paint Corner advises, ‘Extremely high temperatures like Arizona will cause asphalt shingles to crack quite quickly, but asphalt does great in colder climates. Wood is also a good choice for colder climates, as it provides twice as much insulation as asphalt, but if you live somewhere very wet, such as Washington state, you’ll want to avoid using wooden roof tiles. Wood is very porous and absorbs moisture, which leads to mold and algae growth.
“If you live in a state that is frequently hit by hurricanes, you may want to consider stone-clad steel tile for its ability to withstand high winds.”
Roof maintenance pro tips
Use these tips from the professionals to keep your roof looking good for longer.
“A professional tip to help your roof last longer is to be sure and cut off all limbs from surrounding trees that physically touch your roof,” says Rick Abbiati, owner of Real Estate Investments in Colonies. “Even the smallest limb touching your roof can rub a hole right through the shingles and cause a water leak. With each gust of wind, that branch makes its way through the shingles. Extend the life of your roof by limiting all fauna.’
“The most common thing that grows on tiled roofs is algae,” says Mark Soto, professional roofer at Roofing MKE. ‘You want to continuously clean this from roofs with a combination of water and bleach. Although some people use pressure washers, it is not recommended as it can damage the tiles. The best way is to clean them with your solution and then drain them with a hose. Since tiles aren’t very good at dealing with people walking on them, try doing it from the edge while standing on a ladder.”
If you live in the country’s snowiest cities, including Rochester, Erie, Buffalo, Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Portland, Albany, and beyond, it’s recommended that you build a house roof with a view to heavy snowfall. ,” says Sean Chapman, professional carpenter and founder of Tools’n’Goods. ‘This includes reinforcing the rafters and installing wider gutters. However, this does not guarantee zero damage. You should still be ready to remove snow with a roof rake to prevent ice dams if it melts. In fact, ice dams can damage any roof.
‘Irrespective of your region and roof type, you should also regularly clean gutters and ventilation to prevent blockages.’