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Roof Replacement | Roof Lifespan

How Long Does a Roof Last?

June 2nd, 2023 | 10 min. read

How Long Does a Roof Last?

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A roof’s lifespan is the return you get after investing your hard-earned money in a replacement. Not only that, but it also tells you when you’ll have to replace your roof in the future. 

That’s why it’s crucial for every homeowner to know how long a roof lasts. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know this information, but we’re here to change that. 

With over 30 years in the roofing industry, we here at Bill Ragan Roofing use our expertise to help homeowners like you understand their current or future roof. Because our main goal is to educate you, I’ll break down how long a roof lasts and much more. 

You’ll learn the following in this article:

  • How long a roof lasts on average
  • How long an asphalt shingle roof lasts
  • How long a standing seam metal roof lasts
  • How long a synthetic shingle roof lasts
  • How long a cedar shake roof lasts
  • How long a slate roof lasts
  • The factors that impact how long your roof lasts

How long does a roof last?

The majority of homeowners can expect a residential roof to last around 20-25 years. This is because most homes have the most common type of roofing material installed on them, architectural asphalt shingles

how long does a roof last(Architectural asphalt shingles)

But architectural asphalt shingles aren’t the only type of roofing material (or even asphalt shingle) on homes today. Every roofing material comes with a specific lifespan, either from the manufacturer of the materials or expertise from the roofing industry. 

Let’s break down how long the most common types of roofs last.

How long does an asphalt shingle roof last?

While architectural asphalt shingles are the most popular asphalt shingles and roofing material in general, there are two other types of asphalt shingles, 3-tab and luxury. 

Each type of asphalt shingle has a specified lifespan from the manufacturer. 

how long does a 3 tab asphalt shingle roof last(3-tab asphalt shingles)

3-tab asphalt shingles have a stated lifespan of 25 years and live the shortest of the three types. 

how long does a luxury asphalt shingle roof last(Luxury asphalt shingles)

Architectural and luxury asphalt shingles both have a stated lifespan of 30 years, but luxury shingles can go over 30 years. While they have stated lifespan, you should realistically get around 80-85% of an asphalt shingle roof. 

This means you can expect to get around 20 years out of your 3-tab shingle roof and around 25 years out of your architectural shingles. On the other hand, luxury shingles are thicker and should get up to around 30 years. In perfect conditions, you can stretch that number even further.

How long does a standing seam metal roof last?

A standing seam metal roof system is a series of panels locked together at the seams or seamed mechanically. This allows the panels to expand and contract freely when the metal heats up and cools down. 

how long does a standing seam metal roof last

Because of this, a standing seam metal roof is the recommended metal roof for residential purposes over a screw-down metal roof. A standing seam metal roof will last around 30 and even up to 50 years in the right conditions.

The longer lifespan comes from the Kynar 500 finish (painted finish that protects the steel from the elements) on the metal panels and its 30-year paint warranty. Just know that the 30-year warranty doesn’t mean the painted finish disappears after 30 years, which is why you’ll see 40-50 year old standing metal roof systems. 

How long does a synthetic (composite) roof last?

Synthetic (also known as composite) shingles are made of recycled materials and designed to mimic a slate or cedar shake roof. You can expect a synthetic shingle to last around 40-50 years. 

how long does a synthetic roof last

The reason synthetic shingles are durable and long-lasting is due to their impact rating. For example, DaVinci Roofscapes (the leading synthetic shingle brand) shingles have a Class 4 impact rating, the highest rating for roofing materials.

The high impact rating means synthetic shingles stand up well to anything that hits them, including extreme weather, such as hail. Because of this, synthetic shingles are one of the most durable roofing materials on the market today.  

How long does a cedar shake roof last?

Unlike asphalt, metal, and synthetic, a cedar shake roof is primarily made of natural cedar shake shingles and other wooden materials. With proper maintenance, you can expect a cedar shake roof to last around 30 years. 

how long does a cedar shake roof last

If you invest in quality materials and live in an area with the right climate, you could possibly stretch that number further with the possibility of getting up to 50 years. Because cedar shake shingles are naturally made, there’s no manufacturer warranty on the materials if they fail prematurely. 

This leaves you with only your roofing contractor’s workmanship warranty to protect your investment if there’s ever a problem with your cedar shake roof.

How long does a slate roof last?

Like a cedar shake roof, a slate roof is made primarily out of natural materials. As long as your slate roof is properly installed and flashed properly, it’ll be the last roof you ever put on your home. 

how long does a slate roof last

It’s hard to put an exact number on its lifespan, but there’s no reason a slate roof shouldn’t last 75 years or even close to 100. We even say your grandkids won’t have to worry about it. 

A slate roof is a great option if you’re looking for a forever material that won’t need to be replaced in your lifetime. Just like a cedar shake roof, there’s no manufacturer warranty on the slate materials themselves if they fail prematurely.

What factors determine how long a roof lasts?

Now you know how long the different types of roofing materials last. While it’s great to put a number on the lifespan, different factors ultimately determine how long your roof lasts.

Let’s learn the main factors that impact the lifespan of your roof.

The workmanship of your roofing contractor

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 will not reach its full potential. 

Improper installation is caused by poor workmanship, inadequate attic ventilation, improper nailing, and poor weather conditions during the installation process. If your roof was improperly installed, you’ll either need repairs throughout its life or experience premature failure, which means another replacement before you should need one.

Adequate attic ventilation

Inadequate attic ventilation is part of improper roof installation, but attic ventilation is crucial enough to your roof’s lifespan to warrant it being a factor on its own. If your attic isn’t ventilated properly, 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 to form. No matter if it’s cold or hot air, your roof’s lifespan will be impacted if your attic isn’t properly ventilated. 

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. 

If you live in an area that gets a lot of small hail, asphalt shingles 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 how long your roof lasts. For example, a very moist or dry climate will shorten the life of cedar shake shingles. 

How often your roof has maintenance

Roof maintenance plays a huge role in how long your roof lasts. Whether it’s once or twice a year, roof maintenance ensures you get the most out of your investment.

It catches any potential problems with your roofing materials and prevents future leaks before they start. Without maintenance, a small problem can snowball and turn into an expensive repair and cause damage to the interior of your home. 

Roof maintenance is also the perfect chance to clear your roof and gutters of debris. If wet debris is left sitting on your roof, it will definitely shorten the lifespan of your roofing materials. 

Because of all this, having your roof checked out at least once a year is crucial. 

Investing in quality materials and components

There’s no way around the fact that a new roof is an expensive purchase. While finding a low price is tempting, the quality of your roofing materials and components greatly impacts how long a roof lasts. 

Paying for cheap labor and materials shows up in the finished quality of your roof. I’m not saying you should break the bank and find the most expensive roof possible. 

But going with the cheapest roof means you get the cheapest roofing materials and the cheapest labor to install them. No matter your budget, it’s important to invest in quality to ensure your roof investment lasts as long as possible. 

How much does a roof cost?

Now you know how long the different roofing materials last. Whether you want to know how long your current roof will last or are trying to find the right material to invest in, knowing the lifespan of a roof is important. 

However, there’s one thing even more important to most homeowners than a roof’s lifespan. This, of course, is the cost of a roof. 

Pricing is always one of the biggest concerns homeowners have about their roofing project. Unfortunately, the roofing industry likes to avoid questions about cost. 

You don’t have to worry about that with us. That’s why we wrote another article breaking down the cost of the same roofing materials we discussed in this article. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided homeowners in Nashville with the information they need to make the right decisions. While educating you is our main goal, you can also count on our attention to detail and the high-quality workmanship that your roofing project deserves.

Check out How Much It Costs to Replace a Roof to learn the price you can expect to pay for a new roof.

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