A roof is undoubtedly an investment, and if you’re considering replacing yours, you will be curious about how long the roof will be in usable shape. Are we talking 50 years or only a few decades? How long does a new roof last?
The average lifespan of a roof varies but can be as little as 20 years for asphalt, up to 30 years for wood shakes, and over 50 years for metal or slate roofs. The level of craftsmanship also affects a roof’s lifespan.
In today’s guide on roofing longevity, we’ll go over more factors that affect how long a roof lasts on average, discuss signs that you need a new roof, and even delve into the costs of a roof replacement. If you’re thinking of replacing your roof soon, you won’t want to miss this!
How Long Will Your New Roof Last You?
Let’s begin with what we’re sure is a burning question on your mind. If you’ve gone through the time, trouble, and expense of replacing your roof, how long will it be until you have to do it again?
While we’ll talk in the next section about the factors that influence that decision, one of the most impactful factors is your chosen roofing material. Here’s an overview of how long your roof will last according to the material.
Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles – Up to 20 Years
Popular roofing material is three-tab asphalt, which is named because every shingle has at least three tabs of asphalt.
The tabs sit flat on each shingle, and then every shingle is installed one by one to comprise the roof.
Asphalt is usually a durable material when used for roadways and highways, but three-tab asphalt shingles have probably the shortest lifespan of roof materials, which is 15 to 20 years.
Wood Shingles – Up to 30 Years
Wood shingles give your home a rustic appearance, so they appeal to many homeowners.
As was the case with three-tab asphalt shingles, each wooden shingle is adhered to the others to build the roof.
Wood can be both strong and durable, yet it’s not the roofing material with the longest lifespan by far. The average life of wood shingles is between 25 and 30 years.
Composite Shingles – Up to 50 Years
The next type of roof material is composite shingles, which are also known as synthetic shingles. The construction of the shingles varies but includes engineered materials and often rubber and recycled plastics.
The versatility of composite shingles makes them favorable since you can choose from various styles and colors.
These shingles could last you as little as 30 years and as many as 50 years, depending on the materials.
Architectural Asphalt Shingles – Up to 50 Years
Referred to as dimensional or laminated shingles, architectural asphalt shingles are a combination of mineral granules coated in ceramic and fiberglass mats.
The materials are then covered in asphalt to increase water resistance.
This construction method gives architectural asphalt shingles a good lifespan, between 30 and 50 years.
Metal – Up to 50 Years
Metal roofs aren’t only available with shiny, silver aluminum or zinc coatings but can also have darker and browner patinas, depending on what you like.
This roofing material can reflect infrared and UV sunrays and possibly reduce your cooling costs by upwards of 25 percent in some cases.
The average lifespan of a metal roof is 20 to 50 years.
Clay Tile – Over 50 Years
Clay tiles are heavy, and, depending on their size, can weigh several hundred pounds. The material is also fragile but undoubtedly increases the curb appeal of a home.
A clay tile roof has among the longest lifespans of the roofing materials we’ve discussed, lasting at least 50 years and often more.
Slate Tile – Over 50 Years
Finally, we have slate tile, a much more expensive roofing material than most in this section.
The timelessness of slate is part of its appeal, as is the material’s durability and the more natural look that slate lends to roofs.
Its lifespan is equally as impressive as a clay tile roof, as slate tile can last for at least 50 years and very often more.
The Factors That Affect the Longevity of Your Roof
We mentioned earlier that several factors determine how long your roof will last you. Let’s take this section and go over them now.
As the last section illustrates, depending on whether you select a slate tile roof or a three-tab asphalt shingle roof, you’re going to have your roof for either 20 years or more than 50.
Higher-quality materials, which are more expensive, will produce a longer-lasting roof.
Regardless of which roof material you choose and what you pay to get your roof installed, you can undercut the roof’s lifespan by failing to maintain it.
You should at least commit to yearly roof maintenance, and if that’s too much for you, then hire a technician to come out and inspect the roof.
You might not think that roofs need ventilation, but they do!
A well-ventilated roof maintains its temperature throughout the year. Since the roof is exposed to fewer temperature extremes on either side (heat and cold), the roof material will hold up longer.
Roof vents are the most common form of ventilation for homeowners but depending on the layout of your home and your roof, mechanical ventilation might be necessary.
If your current roof is susceptible to mold and mildew, you’ve experienced a lot of roof leaks, and the roof always develops icicles in the wintertime, then your roof’s ventilation is poor and needs improving.
The goal of a roof is to allow water to travel, but some roofs are better at this than others.
If your roof slope isn’t optimally designed, then the lack of drainage can lead to all sorts of headaches. Water will accumulate and could cause roof leaks, for instance.
Flatter roofs are likelier to have these issues than roofs with a more pronounced slope.
Roof Material Color
You’re already aware of how the roofing material can affect its lifespan, but the color of the shingles you select may also play a role.
If you live in a region where the sun is always beating down on your home, then stay away from darker roof materials.
As you know if you’ve ever worn black or other dark hues in the summertime, these colors absorb light and heat. Your roof will do the same.
This makes your home hotter, especially upstairs, while also accelerating the wear and tear on your roof.
You’d want a roof in a lighter color like gray or white.
Given where your roof is installed, there’s absolutely no way you can prevent weather exposure.
That said, you have to understand that depending on what kind of weather is the most frequent in your neck of the woods, your roof may last on the lower end of its lifespan estimate or the higher end.
If your home state is prone to many extreme weather events such as hurricanes, snow, and other severe storms, these events do play a part in the health of your roof.
It won’t last as long as the same roof would for a homeowner who doesn’t have these weather events.
Although we’re sure we don’t have to tell you this, you get what you pay for. If the contractors don’t do a good job when installing your roof, then your roof is going to have a lot more problems than it should.
You can tell your roof wasn’t properly installed if you see roof stains, water leaks, misaligned shingles, missing shingles, or a sagging roof.
Regardless of what you spent and how long your roof should last, a lack of craftsmanship is going to reduce the roof’s lifespan.
Underlayment or Lack Thereof
Does your roof have an underlayment? If you hired a quality roofer, then more than likely, it does. This too can help your roof last longer.
Allow us to explain what underlayment is.
A roofing underlayment goes between the roof deck and roof sheathing or shingles. It’s often made of oriented strand board or OSB, or it could be plywood.
The underlayment acts as an additional safeguard from all sorts of weather, including strong winds, snow, and rain.
If your roof doesn’t have an underlayment, then you’re missing out on this extra protection. That will show when your roof doesn’t last you as long as it could.
Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Roof
Perhaps you’re not yet at the point where you’ve replaced your roof, but you’re very strongly thinking about it. You’re not sure though if you’ll put off the project for a couple more years or do it sooner.
Well, you don’t always get to make that decision. In some cases, your roof can choose for you. Here are some signs that you shouldn’t delay a roof replacement any longer.
The Roof Is Green
A green roof is more than an eyesore; it can impact how well your roof works.
When plants have begun sprouting from your roof, then you know you have trouble. Roof vegetation can attract pests and hungry animals and sometimes damage the roof.
If you see moss, that too is highly problematic. Moss retains moisture, keeping it near the roof. Your roof could be susceptible to leaks and water damage, and in the winter, frost damage.
You See Holes in Your Roof
Any hole in your roof is an issue, but when the problem is holes, plural, you have no choice but to admit that your roof is in bad shape.
The more holes in the roof, the worse the structural integrity, so it’s within your best interest to get your roof replaced much sooner than later!
The Roof Is Sagging
Another sign that your roof is on its way out is if it’s sagging.
You can tell how straight your roofline is by going out on your front lawn (or maybe walking to the curb) and visually assessing it.
Any slight dipping is not good, but the more pronounced the sagging, the worse off your roof is.
More than likely, water has saturated the roof, or the original framing is beginning to fall apart. Both are really bad situations, as we’re sure we don’t have to tell you.
How Much Does a Roof Replacement Cost?
You think you’re ready to take the plunge and invest in a new roof, as your current roof has a few of the symptoms mentioned above.
Of course, your next question is, what will it cost you to get a new roof?
According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of a roof replacement is between $5,627 and $11,973 with a national average of $8,785. On the higher end, you can pay as much as $45,000 for this project.
The size of your house is very much a factor, as a large home will have a bigger roof that costs more to install. Here is a rundown of the costs per square foot courtesy of HomeAdvisor:
- $4,000 to $5,500 for a 1,000-square-foot home
- $4,200 to $6,000 for an 1,100-square-foot home
- $4,500 to $6,500 for a 1,200-square-foot home
- $5,500 to $8,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home
- $6,000 to $8,500 for a 1,600-square-foot home
- $6,500 to $9,000 for a 1,700-square-foot home
- $6,700 to $9,500 for an 1,800-square-foot home
- $7,000 to $10,000 for a 1,900-square-foot home
- $7,400 to $10,500 for a 2,000-square-foot home
- $11,200 to $16,000 for a 3,000-square-foot home
The roofing material you’re interested in also makes a huge difference in your overall project pricing.
A slate roof, which we indicated earlier is expensive, costs between $5,700 and $23,500, notes HomeAdvisor.
A cedar roof, which is a type of wood, costs between $16,000 and $27,000. A metal roof is economical at $5,300 to $15,000.
Asphalt shingles are even less costly at $5,700 to $12,000.
If your roof has a chimney, skylights, multiple layers, or a unique pitch, these factors will also increase your overall costs.
So too will your location. In a lower-cost state like Alabama, a new roof costs between $4,600 and $11,700. In much more expensive Arizona, you could pay $10,000 to $20,000 for a new roof!
How to Make Your New Roof Last Longer
After a replacement, your roof looks better than ever. You want to keep it looking good for many years to come. What can you do?
Here are our top pointers for extending the life of your roof.
An insulated roof will impede the development of icicles and ice dams that can later melt and cause roof leaks. Your roof will be in better working condition for longer.
As if that’s not an incentive enough to insulate the roof, insulation is also a great way to maintain a consistent temperature in your attic, which is prone to temperature fluctuations.
You could even save money on your utility bills by insulating!
Keep Ventilation Open
Your roof might have vents, but if these are blocked up by clumps of leaves or other debris, then the vents are as good as useless. If you need to call your technician a few times per year to clean the vents, it’s worth it.
Don’t Let Snow Remain
Most people just leave snow on their roofs because how are they supposed to clean there anyway? The answer is with a roof rake.
A roof rake is a tool that can reach the height of your roof and push the snow away. When snow isn’t left to accumulate on your roof, neither are ice dams nor icicles. You already know how damaging these can be!
Keep the Gutters Clean
Gunked-up gutters can cause a deluge of water, contributing to roof leaks. At least twice a year, get into the habit of giving your gutters a thorough cleaning.
Don’t Ignore Damage
It’s easy to put off your roof for another day when only one shingle is loose or missing, but then it’s two shingles, then three, then four, then more. Begin addressing roof issues as they arise rather than allow them to balloon up into large problems!
Consider Trimming Back Your Trees
If your front yard or backyard tree has overhanging branches that are too close to the roof, then you might want to think about getting your tree professionally pruned. The tree deposits a lot of leaves that can gunk up the roof vents and the gutter.
On top of that, if the branches snap off, they could scratch or otherwise wreck your roof.
No Power Washing
Although it’s tempting to rent or buy a power washer to clean your roof, if yours has shingles, you should not do this. The high water pressure could blow the shingles clear off your roof!
Roofs last, on average, about 20 years but sometimes more than 50 years, depending on the roof’s material, craftsmanship, and quality. Now that you know everything about replacing a roof, we hope you don’t put off this all-important job!
When you’ve decided it’s time to replace your roof, don’t forget to check out our other articles, “The Best Time of Year to Replace Your Roof” and “How Many Days Does it Take to Replace a Roof?”