How Long Does a Roof Last? Warning Signs You Need a New Roof

People often wonder how long their roof will protect their home and what they can do to get the most out of this investment. Oftentimes, the type of roof can have the greatest impact on a roof’s life expectancy, but this is just one step of the decision making process. There are many factors that impact a roof’s lifespan, so we’re breaking it down for property owners.

Factors that Impact the Average Lifespan of Your Roof

If you’re in the market for a new roof, there are many considerations to ensure you’re making a smart investment. Follow along to find out which factors impact the lifespan of your roof and determine when you should investigate replacement options.

Type of Materials: The materials used on your roof and their durability are large factors which impact the average lifespan of a roof. In many cases, cost and longevity are directly correlated, but we’ll cover roofing materials in more detail below.

Quality of Materials: No matter what type of roof materials you decide to use on your residence or commercial buildings, there are low and high quality versions of each material. Low quality roofing materials typically lead to more repairs and lower roof life expectancy, so it’s best to choose a superior product. Hiring a reputable contractor that uses high quality materials will help you make a decision to get the most out of your roof. 

Underlayment: Roofing underlayment is one of the most crucial components of residential roof replacements. Underlayment is a layer of waterproofing protection in the event that the exterior roof gets damaged. This additional layer of defense prevents moisture buildup and mold issues and is essential so your materials don’t start to rot away.

Workmanship of Installation: Before selecting a roofing contractor, make sure you investigate their qualifications, insurance and liability coverage and reviews or testimonials. Choosing a licensed professional could affect the average lifespan of your roof more than you’d think. You don’t want to be in a situation where you spot signs of a bad roofing job and have to question whether the roof was installed correctly. Superstorm Restoration is a Owens Corning Platinum Preferred roofing contractor, so we only recommend durable, high quality materials that will protect your home for the long-haul.

The Elements: The climate and sun exposure to your roof are large factors that impact a roof’s lifespan. The Midwest’s drastic and irregular temperatures along with extreme storms that can cause roof damage threaten your roof’s health, so it’s important to choose durable options. Temperatures frequently going from hot to cold, like we experience in the spring and fall, can cause splits and cracks in shingles. Wind, hail, tornadoes and other storms can cause even more harm by leaving divots in the roof, removing protective granules from shingles and building up moisture that leads to mold and roof leaks. Lastly, pay attention to the trees near your roof – check that the branches are not rubbing away at the shingles, and be sure to dispose of any leaves or debris built up in the gutters.

Color of Materials: In some cases, the color of shingles you choose can affect your roof’s life expectancy. Especially in sunny climates, lighter materials are recommended, because dark products will absorb more heat from the sun. Overheated shingles are more likely to experience wear and tear, and it will make ventilating your roof more difficult.

The Slope of a Roof: The pitch of your roof impacts drainage, and a roof with poor drainage abilities may require more frequent repairs or replacements. Property owners with flat roofs and roofs with low slants need to be more cautious of checking for water accumulation that could lead to mold and fungus growth or cause more serious damage that leads to roof leaks.

Ventilation: Having appropriate ventilation methods for your roof is a key part of property health that will increase the roof’s life expectancy. When the roof can maintain a consistent temperature the materials are less likely to crack under pressure, it can reduce the risk of overheating or freezing and your entire property is more likely to run efficiently. Improper ventilation can lead to costly damages, so it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of poor roof ventilation and take precautions to control it.

Regular Roof Maintenance: Performing periodic maintenance will extend the average lifespan of a roof. Annual roof inspections help identify any warning signs you may need a new roof or a major repair, and when a problem is identified, it can be resolved quickly before it gets out of hand. Many property owners wonder how to know when it’s time for a roof inspection, and the answer may depend on your roof’s current health or other circumstances. Our roofing contractors recommend getting regular evaluations once per year and more often if you’ve experienced storm damage to your roof.

How Do Warranties Compare to the Lifespan of a Roof?

Typically, the roof’s life expectancy will be greater than the warranty offered on a roof, but the roof warranty is there in case the roof’s lifespan is cut short by a major storm or incident. This will protect the property owner’s investment, ensuring costly roof repairs from unexpected damages will be covered. Higher quality roofing materials will have longer warranties and keep you covered over more time since these durable products are projected to last for the long-haul.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

The average lifespan of a roof usually ranges between 25 to 50 years. However, a roof’s life expectancy ultimately depends on the quality, durability and type of material chosen. You typically get what you pay for, and the larger the investment for a new roof, the longer it will provide protection for your home, but there are many options homeowners and commercial property owners should consider when choosing the best type of roofing material.

Roof Life Expectancy Based on Types of Roofs

Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles: This type of roof is typically used for DIY roofing projects and lasts 15 to 20 years. Three-tab asphalt shingles are a budget-friendly option, but they have one of the lowest life spans due to having low wind resistance from less durable materials. Our experts wouldn’t recommend three-tab asphalt shingles since they offer less protection and homeowners would need to make another roofing investment not far down the road.

Wood Shingles: Typically cut from cedar, spruce or pine, a wood shingled roof offers a more natural and rustic look to a home that’s very affordable. Most wood roof last up to 30 years, but keep in mind the wood needs continual care and can be susceptible to termites, fires, mold & mildew and other storm damage

Metal Roof: Pricing and your roof lifespan for this option depends on the thickness of the metal you choose. With thinner metal, your roof will last about 20 to 25 years, but choosing thick, quality material will provide over 50 years of protection. Metal roofs are growing in popularity – they typically have a longer roof life expectancy than asphalt options, but they’re also more expensive to install.

Architectural Asphalt Shingles: If shingles are your material of choice, architectural asphalt shingles are a great option. There are various types made of thicker and more durable materials, so these will last 30 or 50 years. Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors and give homes a sort of “layered” look.

Composite Shingles: Made to look like wood or slate tiles, these copy-cat shingles are actually made of polymer, rubber or plastic. Composite shingles are less expensive than slate, but still a pricey investment for a less durable material. Compared to the wood tiles they mimic, they last longer and provide more protection against heat, hail, and fire depending on the option you choose. These shingles come in a variety of colors, and will last anywhere from 40 to over 50 years.

Slate Tiles: These extremely durable tiles have one of the longest average lifespans for a roof, lasting well over 50 years and sometimes almost up to 100. They are excellent options for Midwestern homes since they can resist heat, hail, snow and moisture. Due to the expensive cost and heavy weight of this type of roof, the number of contractors that install slate times is limited, and it’s recommended that homeowners consult a structural engineer to determine if you can take on the weight.

Concrete or Clay Tiles: Another durable option that withstands the test of time is concrete or clay shingles, which remain strong for 50 years or more. This type of shingle is most common in the Southwest on Spanish-style homes since they can withstand high heat and concrete tiles reflect sunlight. Similar to slate roofs, clay and concrete are heavy and are a larger investment, so homes will need additional framing and supports and must contact a structural engineer before installation.

Commercial and Flat Roof Lifespans

EPDM: This is a synthetic rubber material commonly used for commercial roofs. It’s affordable, easy to apply and lasts 25 to 30 years or more, depending on how well it’s maintained.

PVC: This type of flat roof involves a vinyl membrane, which provides the most energy efficiency since it’s UV resistant and reflects the sun since it’s white in color. This is an expensive option, but this investment will last over 20 years.

TPO: Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is a single-ply flat roofing option whose seam strength is stronger than EPDM. It is less expensive than PVC, but is not as flexible and usually lasts between 15 to 20 years.

Spray Foam: This is an excellent commercial roofing option, and the life expectancy of spray foam roofs depends on the thickness of the foam and the coating. If this type of roof is well maintained and follows a regular recoating schedule, they should be able to last well over 50 years.

How Can I Make My Roof Last Longer?

Get the most out of your roof replacement investment by diligently and regularly checking on the overall health of your roof. Your roof’s lifespan can be extended with proactive maintenance and annual inspections. These help experts spot small issues before they turn into big problems!

Homeowners and property managers can perform regular maintenance for their roofs by following a few simple steps. We recommend checking on the condition of the roof seasonally, since each season has different weather and external causes for potential harm. During the spring and summer, Midwestern properties could be struck with hail, wind and severe storm damages. Detecting and fixing small issues early on can help make your roof last longer. In the autumn months, homeowners should clear fallen leaves and debris out of the gutters for better drainage, and property managers should inspect their flat roofs to ensure proper drainage methods are working and there’s no buildup on top of the roof. Wintertime has its own unique challenges, and you’ll be able to tell if you don’t have correct ventilation in place or if there’s other damages lurking if you spot ice dams built up along the roofline or experience leaks in the ceiling.

Along with these seasonal maintenance check-ins, it’s valuable to seek the opinion of a professional with an annual property evaluation. Our Arkansas roofing company offers free roof inspections, so there’s no reason for local homeowners to put it off. We try to set up roof inspection expectations appropriately – annual evaluations shouldn’t mean you’ll be spending money on roof repairs every year. Our team uses drones to analyze and record the health of your roof over time. This way when we do find warning signs that you need a new roof or have a minor issue, our experts can help you efficiently execute fixes to prolong the average lifespan of your roof. 

How Often Should I Replace My Roof?

Despite knowing the average lifespan of various roof types, you must continue to monitor your roof’s health to know how often to replace your roof. Typical warning signs you need a new roof include:

  • Damage to roof material
  • Leaks and water damage
  • Discoloration to ceiling
  • Visible damage to roof and exterior
  • Pests getting inside

If your roof has held up over the years and is approaching the end of its roof life expectancy, pay particularly close attention to its condition. Start saving and planning ahead, and you may even consider contacting a roofing contractor about replacement recommendations in advance. This way, when you decide it’s the best time to invest in a new roof, you’ll be prepared and can make an educated decision on the type of roof you like and the quality of materials you need for the right protection.

You’ll never know exactly how often to replace a roof, but our experts recommend annual inspections to keep a close eye on the roof, just like you would do for your HVAC systems, car and other large investments you’d like to prolong the life of. A certified professional will uncover things a typical homeowner or property manager might overlook, and their goal is to help you keep your property protected. Roof evaluations after storms are also encouraged, so damages can be repaired quickly to prevent costly problems down the road.

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