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Questions to ask a roofing contractor | Roofing Contractors

What Does a Lifetime Roof Warranty Really Mean?

March 25th, 2024 | 6 min. read

What Does a Lifetime Roof Warranty Really Mean?

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One of the most confusing things about getting a new roof is understanding your warranties. Unfortunately, this confusion almost always revolves around the term “lifetime”.

Look, I get it. It’s frustrating to hear you’re getting a lifetime warranty, but it really only covers the first 10 years. This leaves homeowners wondering, “What does a lifetime roof warranty really mean?” 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners navigate the complexities of the roofing industry. That’s why I want to clear up some things about lifetime roof warranties. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • What are the two types of roof warranties?
  • Do roof shingles come with a lifetime warranty?
  • Do roofing contractors offer a lifetime workmanship warranty?

What are the two types of roof warranties?

Before we get to what lifetime roof warranties actually mean, you need to know the difference between the two types and what they cover. 

Roofing material warranties

A material warranty covers your asphalt shingles and other components if they’re defective or have manufacturing errors. Each type of asphalt shingle and component comes out of the package with a standard warranty from the manufacturer. 

These individual warranties will be valid for a certain number of years (depending on the manufacturer) before being prorated. For example, architectural asphalt shingles come with a standard 30-year warranty that gets prorated after 10 years. 

Just know that manufacturers can void their roofing material warranties due to improper installation and poor attic ventilation

Roofing contactor’s workmanship warranty

A workmanship roof warranty covers any future problems caused by installation errors. This means your roofing contractor will fix any leaks as long as the warranty is valid. 

Every roofing contractor should provide a workmanship warranty, but the length varies from company to company. Unfortunately, this warranty is only as good as the paper it’s written on.  

That’s why you need to make sure you’re hiring an established roofing company known to do quality work in your area. 

Do roof shingles come with a lifetime warranty?

Yes, shingles manufacturers provide lifetime warranties on their shingles. When manufacturers say “lifetime”, they mean as long as you own the property where the roof system is installed. 

They’re not saying the shingles last forever, but that your roof is covered for as long as you live in your home and the materials aren’t failing. Unfortunately, standard lifetime warranties won’t provide full coverage for the entirety of your roof’s life

Does a lifetime shingle warranty really last a lifetime?

Shingles may come with a lifetime warranty, but full coverage is limited to a certain number of years during their trademarked non-prorated warranty periods. Depending on the manufacturer, they’ll cover a roof replacement (labor, materials, or both) if you receive defective materials during the covered years.

Once it’s no longer covered by the non-prorated warranty, it begins prorating in value (around 2% every year) until it reaches zero under the limited lifetime warranty. Let’s look at CertainTeed’s (our preferred shingle brand) SureStart™ warranty on their Landmark line of shingles as an example. 

CertainTeed’s Landmark shingles come with their lifetime warranty and 10-year SureStart™ warranty. During the first 10 years your roof is covered, CertainTeed will pay (for materials and “reasonable” labor costs) to repair or replace any shingles determined to be defective.

Once the SureStart™ period ends, CertainTeed starts prorating the coverage using a Reduction Figure Per Month model (prorates at 1/600 or .17% per month). 

Is an enhanced warranty a lifetime warranty?

While standard lifetime warranties are always prorated, most manufacturers offer an extended, enhanced warranty. To qualify, you need to get an entire roof system from a single manufacturer and get it installed by a certified roofing contractor. 

The non-prorated enhanced warranty ensures that if defective materials are found, they’ll replace your entire roof (tear-off, materials, labor, and disposal). The coverage period depends on the manufacturer and roofer’s level of certification, but it’s usually between 20 and 50 years. 

That’s why an enhanced warranty is the closest you’ll get to an actual lifetime warranty on shingles. 

Do roofing contractors offer a lifetime workmanship warranty?

Yes, there are roofing contractors who offer a lifetime workmanship warranty. This means they’ll fix leaks or other installation problems until the roofing materials fail.

Depending on the type of asphalt shingle, this is anywhere from 20-30 of protection against leaks caused by installation errors. That’s a long time for your roof to be protected from any leaks caused by a mistake during installation.

Just know that some shingle manufacturers offer the opportunity to purchase a workmanship warranty. However, this will usually be between 10 to 25 years instead of a “lifetime”. 

What does a lifetime warranty tell you about a roofing contractor?

Roofing contractors offering a lifetime warranty let you know they trust their work quality and use correct roofing techniques. Every roofer should have no problem offering a lifetime warranty if they do things the right way and take pride in their workmanship.

On the other hand, a short workmanship length tells you just as much. If a roofing contractor takes shortcuts or uses cheap materials, they’ll provide a warranty they know will expire before cracks show.

At the end of the day, a roofing contractor who does everything right and believes in the product will offer at least a 10-year warranty. With the investment you’ll make in your roof, don’t settle for anything less. 

Should you look for a roofing contractor that offers a lifetime warranty?

As I just said, don’t settle for anything less than a 10-year workmanship warranty. Unfortunately, finding a lifetime workmanship warranty is hard. 

So, should you even bother looking for one? You should absolutely try to find a roofing contractor that offers a lifetime workmanship warranty or close to it (20 years). 

The average roof on a ranch-style home costs around $15,000, which is a large investment for most homeowners. As a roofer myself, I don’t think expecting lifetime protection when you spend that much or more is unfair. 

A new roof is meant to provide you peace of mind, and a lifetime workmanship warranty ensures you get that for decades.

What else do you need to look for in a roofing contractor?

Now you know what lifetime roof warranties really mean. With a lifetime warranty, your roof investment has long-term protection and you get peace of mind for decades to come. 

Remember, you need to hire a certified roofing contractor to qualify for the real “lifetime” material warranty. And don’t be afraid to look for the lifetime workmanship warranty you deserve. 

That’s why you need to ask potential roofing contractors what their warranty is and if they’re certified with shingle manufacturers. In fact, asking these two questions and others is the best way to determine if you’re dealing with a reputable roofer. 

Because I want to help you make the right hiring decision, I wrote another article with the 10 main questions every homeowner should ask roofing contractors. 

Check out the Top 10 Questions To Ask A Roofing Contractor to identify a reputable roofing contractor when getting quotes for your new roof.

roofing contractor questions checklist

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