Q: How long do shingles last? Which roofing material has the most extended lifespan and the best value for my money?
A: Installing a new roof is one of the most significant investments you will make as a homeowner. To ensure you do your due diligence, you'll want to pick a roofing material with the most extended lifespan. How long do shingles last, and which material has the most prolonged longevity? Keep reading to find out.
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How Long Does a Roof Last?
With the proper maintenance and installation with no damage, a roof can last around 30 years before needing replacement.
However, many factors affect long your roof will last, from the materials used to the installation by the roofer. Even your location's climate can affect your roof's longevity. Things like high winds, snow, significant rainfall, and high temperatures are all culprits that can reduce the lifespan of your roof.
When shopping for a new roof, you'll notice that different materials have varying lifespans. The cheaper a product is, the shorter amount of time your roof will last. It will also be more vulnerable to damage.
Different materials also have varying levels of durability, making them suitable for specific areas or conditions. Let's look at the longevity and durability of the most common types of roofing.
Asphalt shingles are the most common and affordable type of roofing. The majority of homes will have some asphalt shingle on their home.
This style of shingle comes in three types - 3-tab, architectural (dimensional), and designer. They have the shortest lifespan of all roofing materials, lasting anywhere from 15 to 30 years.
Three-tab shingles - also called strip shingles - are traditional shingles seen on most roofs, primarily due to the affordability of $70 to $150 a roofing square (100 square feet). Most 3-tab shingles will have a warranty of up to 25-years, although this type typically lasts 20 to 22 years with proper installation and venting.
Architectural and designer shingles are almost the same thing, varying by price and construction. These shingles are thicker than 3-tab, designed to look like wood or slate roofs. Designers are a luxury or premium type of architectural shingle.
Architectural shingles are more durable due to being up to three times thicker, with warranties between 20 and 30 years. Most architectural shingles will last 25 to 28 years.
30-year architectural shingles have the best lifespan for asphalt shingles and come at a higher cost of $250 to $400 a roofing square.
Wood shingles, called shakes in the roofing industry, are typically cedar due to this wood's resistance to insects and rot.
Over time, this type of roofing weather becomes a silvery gray color and looks great on cottages and Tudor-style homes.
Many challenges come with wood roofs, including having warped or split shingles. It's important to do annual inspections of the roof and replace any damaged shingles promptly to avoid damages.
Expect to pay $250 to $600 a roofing square, with warranties and lifespan lasting up to 30 years. Every two to four years, you'll have to apply deterioration prevention maintenance to ensure the wood doesn't rot or attract insects.
High humidity can cause premature aging of wood shingles, leading to moss, algae, lichen, and mildew. Once wood shingles get these organisms on them, it can cause the wood to break down, becoming spongy and weak.
Clay tiles come in multiple earthy colors, with the most popular being bold terracotta, often seen on Spanish or desert homes.
Most people shy away from clay roofs due to the high price tag of $600 to $800 a roofing square. However, this high one-time cost results in savings years down the road.
Clay tiles last 50 years or longer with the proper installation. These roof coverings are durable and low maintenance, with warranties from 30 years to the lifetime of the material. Some clay tiles can even last up to 100 years.
If you're considering clay roofing, be aware that the materials are heavier, which requires adding additional materials to give the roofline more structural integrity to support the extra weight.
These shingles do tend to break off during high winds, making them unsuitable for locations with frequent wind storms. But if you're looking for a way to keep your interior cool in climates with scorching hot temperatures, clay tiles might be your pick.
Metal roofs are rising in popularity, mainly due to their extended longevity. Metal roofs can last from 40 to 70 years, although you may only end up warrantied for 20. Still, many come with a lifetime warranty.
There are different types of metal, which have varying lifespans. For instance, copper or zinc roofs can last for more than 100 years. Metal roofs come in a wide range of colors and a few different styles.
- Stand seam metal roofing
Stand seam roofing is the most popular choice for residential properties. This style can last 50 years, resisting 100 plus mph winds.
- Ribbed metal panels
Ribbed panels are cheaper than standing seam roofing and have a shorter lifespan of 25 to 50 years. Installation is also more accessible, allowing for cheaper labor from contractors.
- Stone-coated steel tiles
Metal roofs coated with stone offer superior protection against hurricanes, surviving winds up to 155 mph and lasting between 30 and 50 years.
All metal roofs are Class 4 impact-resistant, making them excellent for hail. And they have high wind ratings of 140 to 180 mph. For reference, a Category 4 hurricane has winds of 130 to 156 mph, while a Cat 5 has winds of 157 mph or more.
Metal is also lightweight, making it suitable for all roofs. You can even place metal directly over old shingles. We demonstrate the different types of metal roofs, lifespan, and the price per square in the chart below.
80 to 100 years
Metal Slate (stone coated)
Factors That Affect Roof Longevity
We mentioned before that multiple factors can affect how long your roof will last. Here are five things that can determine your roof's durability and longevity.
- Attic ventilation
Your attic ventilation is the most impactful factor for how long your roof will last. Without the proper ventilation, your roof can experience damage due to the trapped air (hot or cold).
Trapped heat can burn the roof system, which typically requires a total roof replacement. Improper attic ventilation immediately voids any warranties, leaving you to pay out of pocket.
- Roofing contractor
You can choose the best and longest-lasting roofing on the market and still end up with roof damage not covered under warranty by choosing the wrong roofer.
Make sure you get the expected lifespan out of your roof by choosing a roofer with the proper experience and who uses the right roofing techniques, as outlined by the roofing manufacturer. Many manufacturers offer exclusive warranties for using brand-certified installers.
The weather in your location will also affect the lifespan of your roof. Areas that experience frequent severe weather cause roofing materials to wear down faster than places with calm climates.
Choosing materials suited to your area and climate helps reduce the chances of having to replace your roof prematurely. Metal is suitable for locations with high winds and hail storms. If metal isn't your type of look, Class 4 impact-resistant asphalt shingles could suffice, although they may still suffer granule loss, which isn’t covered by warranty.
- Roof orientation
Which direction your roof faces can also affect the lifespan of your roof, primarily how much direct sunlight exposure the roof experiences.
Roofs that face east and west get equal amounts of sunlight, whereas roofs that face south will only have direct sunlight on the south side. Not only will your roof weather differently on each side, but southside roofs will also receive the brunt of weather damage.
- Roof maintenance
The final thing that can determine how long your roof will last is how much maintenance you do over the roof's lifetime. Storm debris left on a roof can keep the material wet, leading to leaks or rots.
Doing inspections after significant storms, removing debris from the roof, valleys, and gutter line, and having a professional roofer do annual maintenance and inspections can ensure you get the most extended use from your roof.
Picking the suitable material for your roof can save you money and ensure you won't have to worry about the top of your house for decades. Metal roofing has the most extended lifespan and durability for a moderate cost. Clay is also durable and long-lasting, although it's heavier and isn't suitable for all home structures. It also costs the most to install. Asphalt shingles are the most affordable material, but it also has the shortest lifespan.