You invested a lot of money in your roof. So, you’re probably expecting to get the maximum number of years out of it.
But the truth is, multiple factors determine how long your roof will really last. These factors can even be the difference between a roof that fails prematurely and one that reaches its full potential.
Knowing them from the beginning also helps you avoid premature roof failure before your roof is installed. Because of all this, it's important to know what impacts the lifespan of your roof.
For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has educated homeowners about the ins and outs of roofing. Now we want to help you understand what determines how long your roof will actually last.
By the end of this article, you’ll know the 5 main factors that impact your roof’s lifespan.
1. The workmanship of your roofing contractor
The roofing contractor you hire has the biggest impact on all aspects of your roof replacement. That’s why the first and most important factor that impacts how long your roof lasts is your roofing contractor’s workmanship.
If your roof isn’t properly installed, it stands no chance of reaching its full potential. Improper installation can be caused by poor workmanship, inadequate attic ventilation, improper nailing, and poor weather conditions during the installation process.
(Shingles blown off due to improper installation)
If any of this happens, you’ll have a roof that either needs repairs throughout its life or prematurely fails, leading to another replacement before you should need one. You probably think your roofing contractor’s workmanship warranty will protect you if this happens.
But if you hired a roofing contractor that installed your roof wrong in the first place, there’s a good chance they won’t stand behind their work. Unfortunately, this happens way too often in the roofing industry.
Inadequate attic ventilation is part of improper roof installation. But your attic’s ventilation is crucial enough to your roof’s lifespan to warrant it being a factor on its own.
Your attic’s ventilation system is what allows your home and roof to breathe properly. If your attic isn’t ventilated, the damage from the trapped hot and cold air will drastically shorten your roof’s life.
In the summer, inadequate attic ventilation causes heat to build up in your attic, which burns your roof up. For an asphalt roof, this causes the adhesives in the decking to deteriorate and your shingles to crack or curl.
In the winter, heat and moisture from your home’s interior travel into the cold attic, causing condensation. This trapped condensation causes your roof decking to swell and become wavy.
The decking will also lose its ability to hold the nails, lose its load-bearing capacity, and cause mold/mildew, which can lead to serious health issues. No matter if it’s cold or hot air, your roof’s lifespan will be impacted if your attic isn’t properly ventilated.
3. The amount of extreme weather your roof is exposed to
Every roof goes through wear and tear from the weather throughout its life. But the amount of extreme weather your roof is exposed to determines how fast the wear and tear impacts your roof’s lifespan.
(Hail damage to asphalt shingles)
For an asphalt roof, if you live in an area that gets a lot of small hail, your shingles will experience granular loss a lot quicker. For a standing seam metal roof, if you live in an area that gets snow and a lot of hail, the painted finish on your metal roof panels will weaken quicker.
While this isn’t necessarily extreme weather, your area’s climate affects a roof’s lifespan. For example, a very moist or dry climate will shorten the life of cedar shake shingles.
We all know there’s nothing you can do about the weather or the climate. But just keep in mind they both influence your roof’s lifespan.
4. How often your roof has maintenance
You already know your car needs maintenance to keep it running smoothly. The same goes for your roof.
Getting roof maintenance actually plays an important role in how long your roof lasts. Whether it’s once or twice a year, maintenance ensures you get the most out of your roof.
It catches any potential problems with your roofing materials and prevents future leaks before they can get started. Without maintenance, a small problem can snowball and turn into an expensive repair and cause damage to the interior of your home.
(Debris in a roof valley)
Roof maintenance is also the perfect chance to clear your roof and gutters of debris. This is especially important in areas like roof valleys.
If wet debris is left sitting on your roof, it will definitely shorten the lifespan of your roofing materials. Because of all this, it’s absolutely crucial to have your roof checked out at least once a year.
To help you avoid this from the beginning, roofing contractors usually offer a maintenance program that comes with perks.
5. Investing in quality materials and components
There’s no way around the fact that a new roof is an expensive purchase. But I understand everyone is on a budget, and a low price may drive your decisions.
Just know that the quality of your roofing materials and components impacts your roof’s lifespan. That’s why I recommend choosing quality materials and labor instead of going with the cheapest options available.
I’m not saying you should break the bank and find the most expensive roof possible. But if you decide to go with the cheapest roof, you'll get not only the cheapest roofing materials but also the cheapest labor to install them.
This leads to your roof not lasting as long as it should. Paying for cheap labor and materials shows in the finished quality of your roof, which will cost you more money in the long run with repairs and, eventually, a full roof replacement.
How long do the different types of roofing materials actually last?
Now you know 5 factors that impact how long your roof will last. As long as you invest in quality, hire a great roofing contractor, and have it maintained, you should get as much life as possible out of your roof.
However, the actual number of years you’ll get out of a roof is determined by the type of roofing material you have. This could be anywhere from 25 to 75-100 years, depending on which one you choose.
That’s why you need to know the lifespans of the different roofing materials to truly learn how long your roof will last. Because of this, we wrote another article breaking down the lifespan of the top 5 types of roofing materials.
Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided homeowners in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas with high-quality roof replacements. After we’re done, you’ll have a roof that lasts for decades, and we back that up with a lifetime warranty.