The roof of your house is probably something you think about very seldom unless there is something wrong with it.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been wondering how to know if your roof needs replacing, or how regularly you should expect to have to replace it in the future. In order to answer this question, you will need to know what type of roof you have, how well it has been maintained, and what it has been exposed to in terms of weather and damage.
In general, you can expect new roofing to last anywhere from 15 to 100 years, depending on the materials used, the level of maintenance you will apply, and the common weather patterns in your area.
Average Lifespan by Roof Material
The material your roof is made from is what will have the biggest effect on its lifespan. Some materials will only last from 15 to 20 years, and others will last well over 100 years if properly maintained. Read on to learn which materials last the longest, bearing in mind that these are usually also the most expensive options.
Asphalt shingle roofs come in two types. The standard type is the most common roofing in America and will last between 15 and 30 years, depending on the regularity and quality of the maintenance it receives.
Architectural asphalt shingles have a slightly longer lifespan and a higher resistance to damage caused by the weather. You can expect a roof made from architectural asphalt shingles to last about 10 years longer than one made from the standard shingles.
Metal Plate Roofing
Metal roofing is highly resistant to the weather, dust, impact, and moisture, and is a good choice from a financial standpoint, as it requires less maintenance than other low-cost options, but will last up to 50 years. Most metal roofs are made from steel or aluminum, but higher quality options, such as zinc or copper, are also available and can last up to 100 years with a little bit of general maintenance.
Clay and Concrete Tiling
These roofing options are costly, and therefore seldom used in the construction of middle to lower-cost homes. However, they are one of the most durable roof types that money can buy, and absolutely worth the price. You can expect your clay or concrete tile roof to last you up to 100 years, as long as it is installed correctly and properly maintained.
Clay and concrete tiles are the heaviest roof tiles you can get, and as a result, installing them requires more work than other types of roofs. The roofing enforcement between the ceiling and the roof must be particularly sturdy to hold the weight of the tiles, which provides your home with a higher level of safety and strength than other roofing types.
Slate is a type of natural stone, and we all know how long stones last! Slate is a hard type of stone, less susceptible to erosion than other types. This is the most durable roofing material you can buy, and if installation is professionally done and you maintain your roof correctly, you can expect your slate roof to last 100 years or more.
If you have bought or inherited a house with a slate roof, unless it is very old and badly maintained, it is very unlikely that you will be the person who will have to replace the roof. More likely, that job will fall to your children or grandchildren, should they stay in the same house.
Timber Shingles and Cedar Shakes
Timber shingles are longer lasting than asphalt as long as they are well maintained. They were and still are a common roofing material in the USA, used for residential roofs. Wooden roofs are more susceptible to moisture damage than other types, so regular maintenance is essential to ensure your timber roof lasts as long as it should. Removing soil, debris, and moss from your roof will ensure that moisture does not get trapped against the shingles, causing rot and damage.
A badly maintained timber roof should last around 25 years, but with good, regular maintenance, your wooden roof could last you up to 50 years. If you’re thinking of installing a timber roof, just remember that they catch alight easily, and are even illegal in some areas as a result. Do not install a timber roof in an area that experiences a lot of wildfires.
Cedar shakes are thicker than wooden shingles and less susceptible to adverse weather conditions and harsh sun. These should last an average of 40 years, possibly longer with very attentive care.
What Else Affects the Lifespan of Your Roof?
We have already established that the materials used will be the main factor affecting how long your roof will last before it needs to be replaced, but what are the things that could make your roof wear out faster than it should? The simple answer to this question is the weather and a lack of maintenance.
If you, like most people in the world, live in an area that receives its fair share of harsh weather, be it very hot sun, torrential rain, hail, gale-force winds, or heavy snow, you should be aware that any of these conditions can put a strain on your roof.
Moisture followed by the hot sun may cause drying and cracking of timber roofs, or allow mold to grow in areas that don’t dry out properly. Asphalt shingles are easily affected by the weather, since they are so lightweight, and can be knocked loose or lifted by heavy winds. They are also very susceptible to hail damage, as individual grains of asphalt can be broken off, damaging the overall structure of the shingle.
Metal roofs are extremely resilient but are coated with a layer of sealant to prevent oxidization. This layer can be eroded off over time, leaving the metal vulnerable to the elements. Continuous exposure to high winds can cause the metal plates to lift and shift, causing the roofing nails to widen their holes, allowing the plates to eventually come loose.
To avoid all of the possibilities listed above, ensure that you have an excellent maintenance plan in place, and stick to it as best you can. Hire a roofing professional to inspect your roof and inform you of any damage or wear and tear that might not be obvious to your unpracticed eye.
Your roofing expert should be able to instruct you on what to look out for and how to recognize when your roof needs some TLC, and when it needs to be replaced entirely. Make a maintenance schedule, and commit to checking on your roof at least once each year to ensure there is no new damage.
Inspecting Your Roof
There are a few obvious things to look for when you are inspecting your roof for damage. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a good place to start while you are learning to recognize signs that your roof may need repairs or replacement.
- Leaking: One of the most obvious signs that a roof is damaged, and one of the first we are sure to notice, is leaking. If you have not been regularly inspecting your roof, you may have no idea that something is wrong until suddenly you have water coming into your home and damaging your belongings. If you find a leak in your house, be sure to get your roof checked and fixed immediately, as water can damage not only your precious possessions but the entire structure of your roof.
- Cracking: if you inspect your roof and you find shingles that are cracked, it might be time to replace your roof, or at least the cracked shingles. Take a good look at your roof and determine how many shingles are cracked, and how badly. If you have only a few slightly cracked shingles, they may even be reparable with roof sealant, but if many are cracked and the cracks look bad, it would be best to replace the roof before the house itself gets damaged.
- Roof Cement: roof flashing is the use of sheets of metal to prevent water from getting into places where roofing joins other surfaces. It is a practice that requires knowledge and time, and roofers that are trying to bypass this may use roof cement to seal these edges. This is a temporary solution at best, which will eventually cause more problems than it solves. Repairing these areas will be difficult, due to the dry cement, and leaks will be inevitable. Get a roofing professional to fix this problem for you before it causes more.
- Hail Damage: aside from general weather damage, one type of weather that can really do a number on your roof is hail. Shingles can be dented, punctured, or torn by large hailstones, and in the case of asphalt shingles, the loss of granules can turn into large bruises, which grow and expand, eventually leading to leaks and internal damage. If you have recently experienced a hailstorm with abnormally large stones, get a roofing expert in to inspect your roof.
- Curled Asphalt Shingles: If you inspect your roof and discover that many of your asphalt shingles have started to curl, you will want to get a roofing professional out immediately. Curled shingles are often caused by age, but can also be the result of improper installation, poor ventilation in the attic space, or leaking. If your roof has an abundance of curled shingles, it may be a good time to look at roof replacement.
Now you know which types of roofing are the most durable, how to check the health of your roof, and how to tell when your roof will need to be replaced, put in place a maintenance plan with the help of your local roof expert, and do your best to get as much life out of your roof as possible while still ensuring the safety of your family, pets, and belongings.