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Asphalt Shingle Roof

How Long Does an Asphalt Roof Last?

November 17th, 2023 | 8 min. read

How Long Does an Asphalt Roof Last?

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Trying to decide if it’s time to replace your asphalt roof? Or are you trying to pick the right shingle? No matter which one fits your situation, you need to know how long an asphalt roof lasts. 

While manufacturers can say 25 or 30 years, that’s not the full picture. That’s why homeowners always wonder, “Will my 30-year shingle actually last 30 years?”

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners navigate the complexities of the roofing industry. Because of this, I’ll give you a transparent look at how long an asphalt roof lasts. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • How long does an asphalt roof last on average?
  • How long does a 3-tab asphalt roof last?
  • How long does an architectural asphalt roof last?
  • How long does a luxury asphalt roof last?
  • What factors impact how long an asphalt roof lasts?

How long does an asphalt roof last?

On average, an asphalt roof lasts around 20 years. However, the type of shingle determines how long a specific asphalt roof lasts. 

Below is the manufacturer’s stated lifespan for each shingle and a more realistic lifespan.  

How long does a 3-tab asphalt roof last?

3-tab asphalt shingles get their name from the 3 tabs on each shingle strip and lay completely flat when installed. They are the cheapest type of asphalt shingle but also have the shortest lifespan. 

3 tab asphalt shingle roof

Even though 3-tab shingles have a manufacturer-stated lifespan of 25 years, a 3-tab asphalt roof should last around 15 to a maximum of 20 years.  

How long does an architectural asphalt roof last?

Architectural (also called dimensional) shingles provide a random pattern to give your roof dimension or simulate the look of a wood-shake roof. They come with a manufacturer-stated lifespan of 30 years, and it’s possible to reach it in absolutely perfect conditions.

architectural asphalt shingle roof

However, it’s more realistic for an architectural asphalt roof to last around 22 to 25 years. 

How long does a luxury asphalt roof last?

Luxury (also called designer or premium) shingles are the high-end line of shingles designed to look like a natural slate tile roof. They are larger, more durable, offer the highest curb appeal, and are the most expensive type of asphalt shingle.

luxury asphalt shingle roof

A luxury asphalt roof should last around 30 years and can last even longer in the right conditions. 

6 factors that impact how long an asphalt roof lasts

The shingle you choose determines your asphalt roof’s lifespan. However, multiple factors impact how long your asphalt roof ultimately lasts. 

Below are 6 factors that directly impact the lifespan of an asphalt roof.

1. Installation quality

The first and most important factor that impacts how long your asphalt roof lasts is the installation quality. No matter which shingle you have, an improperly installed asphalt roof stands no chance of reaching its full potential. 

improperly installed architectural asphalt shingle roof(Improperly installed architectural asphalt roof)

Improper installation can be caused by poor workmanship, inadequate attic ventilation, improper nailing, and poor weather conditions during the roof replacement process. If your asphalt roof is improperly installed, you’ll have a roof that needs repairs throughout its life before it prematurely fails.

Unfortunately, this leads to another replacement well before you should need one. Luckily, improper installation can be avoided by hiring a reputable roofing contractor with a strong installation history. 

2. Attic ventilation

Other than installation quality, proper attic ventilation is the most important factor that determines how long an asphalt roof lasts. While inadequate attic ventilation is part of improper roof installation, it’s important enough to be on its own. 

If your attic isn’t properly ventilated, the trapped air dramatically shortens your asphalt roof’s life. For example, poor attic ventilation in the summer causes heat to build up enough to literally burn your roof up, deteriorate the adhesives in the decking, and cause cracked or curled shingles.

No matter if it’s cold air in the winter or hot air in the summer, your asphalt roof’s lifespan will be negatively impacted by an improperly ventilated attic

3. Investing in quality materials and components

I understand a new asphalt roof is expensive, but you get what you put into it. Because of this, the quality of the materials and components has a big impact on how long your asphalt roof lasts

If you decide to go with a cheap roof, you'll get not only the cheapest roofing materials but also the cheapest labor to install them. I guarantee this shows up in the final quality of your roof, which means your asphalt roof won’t last as long as it should. 

I’m not saying you should break the bank by getting the most expensive asphalt roof possible. However, you should always look for and invest in quality instead of going with the cheapest option

4. The weather in your area

Every roof goes through wear and tear from the weather throughout its life. However, the amount of extreme weather your area gets has a huge impact on how long an asphalt roof lasts.

hail damage on architectural asphalt shingles(Hail damage to architectural shingles)

For example, asphalt shingles experience granular loss a lot quicker in areas with hail storms, which shortens the roof’s lifespan. Some states even require impact-resistant shingles because of frequent hail storms. 

The more extreme weather your asphalt roof is hit with, the more it impacts how long it lasts. Just know that you can file an insurance claim (unless specifically excluded) for hail or wind damage if a bad storm hits your asphalt roof.

5. The direction your asphalt roof faces

While this kind of plays into weather, the direction your asphalt roof faces impacts how long it’ll last. While shingles are made to withstand UV light, the parts of your roof that are exposed to prolonged sunlight show signs of wear and tear quicker. 

For example, if the roof faces east or west, each side gets an equal amount of direct sunlight as the day goes on. But if it faces south, only the south side receives direct sunlight all day while also taking the brunt of the wear and tear from the weather. 

This also means part of your roof won’t dry after rain, which allows moss growth and leaves sitting, saturated debris on your roof longer. Not only does this eventually lead to a leak, but it also shortens the lifespan of the asphalt shingles. 

6. Maintaining your asphalt roof after installation

After installation, getting maintenance has a huge impact on how long your asphalt roof ultimately lasts. Whether it’s once or twice a year, maintenance ensures you get the most life out of your asphalt roof.

It keeps your roof highly functioning by catching and preventing future leaks before they can start. Without maintenance, a small problem snowballs into an expensive repair and causes damage to the interior of your home.

debris in roof valley on architectural asphalt roof(Debris in architectural asphalt roof valley)

This is also the perfect chance to clear your asphalt roof and gutters of debris, especially in areas that experience build up, like roof valleys. If saturated debris is left sitting on your roof, it will definitely shorten your shingles' lifespan.

How much will a new asphalt roof cost?

Now you know how long an asphalt roof lasts and the factors that impact its lifespan. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know when to replace your roof if you don’t know the age. 

Luckily, your roof shows signs that it’s time for a replacement. Just be aware that you won’t know what your roof truly needs until after a roof inspection. 

But before reaching out to a roofer, you need to know what to expect from a price point if it’s determined you need a new asphalt roof. While other companies may shy away from being transparent on pricing, we take it head on. 

That’s why I wrote another article breaking down how much an asphalt roof costs and what directly impacts the pricing. 

Check out How Much Your New Asphalt Roof Will Cost to learn what to expect when getting estimates for your roof replacement. 

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