How Long Does a Roof Last on a House?

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How long does a roof last? Many homeowners grapple with that question. In most cases, they don’t have an answer and will look for a leak to signal it’s time to consider a roof replacement.

Multiple factors determine a roof’s longevity. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into various roofing materials, their average lifespan, what a typical roofing system consists of, and factors that affect a roof’s lifespan.

Understanding the Whole Roof System

A roof contains more than shingles. The roof is a system of parts that work together to provide the best overlay from external elements.

  • Ventilation allows for proper airflow that regulates the temperature and moisture levels.
  • Shingles are the outer covering of the roof system. This provides attractiveness and protects the underlying parts from external elements.
  • Flashing works in conjunction with the ventilation system. You’ll find this strip of material where a vertical wall such as a chimney meets the roof.
  • Underlayment ensures the deck remains dry during shingle installation or repair.
  • Ice and water barrier is a form of underlayment to prevent or minimize the effects of ice damming.
  • Drip edge allows rainwater to fall away from the house by guiding it off the eaves.
  • The deck is the roofing structure that supports the above layers.

Types of Roofing Systems

The roofing material used will determine how long the roofing system will live. Therefore, knowing the average lifespan and the cost of diverse materials will provide the best decision before dipping your hand in your pocket.

Asphalt shingles 

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofs in the United States. The main reason is this type of roof is affordable for most homeowners – about $70 to $150 per square. With that said, the cost of the roof is proportional to the quality.

In this case, expectancy to replace an asphalt shingle roof more often – typically 10 to 20 years after installation.

If you live in areas that experience sudden temperature changes and strong sunlight such as Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Arizona, this duration will significantly diminish, leading to premature failure.

Architectural Shingles

To get the most out of a shingle roof, consider installing architectural shingles. This roofing system protects from external elements for 15 to 25 years.

Keep in mind, the environment will affect the lifespan. Furthermore, to get such quality, prepare to dig deeper into your pocket – $250 to $400 per square.

Wood Shingle Roof

Also known as shakes, wood shingles offer 25 to 30 years. However, if you practice best roof management, expect to get up to 40 years.

The most common wood used is cedar because it’s durable. Moreover, it has a silvery gray look as the wood weathers, giving your house amazing aesthetics.

While it gets credit for durability, cedar isn’t rot-resistant. Therefore, moisture levels will play a significant role in the overall cycle. For this type of roof, avoid areas with numerous debris and lenient weather conditions. A wood shingle costs about $250 to $600 per square.

Clay Tile Roofs

If you’re looking for a roof that will outlive you, look no further than clay tile roofs. These roofs can last up to 150 years. This is possible because the tiles are made from either concrete or terracotta clay and installed in interlocking layers.

These materials are decay and rot-resistant, and that means you’ll cough up more currency – about $600 to $800 per square.

With so many pros, clay tile roofs are heavy, which will cause damage to your roof. You also need to contract an expert roofer to install the tiles.

Metal roofs

Metal roofs continue to grow in popularity among homeowners. The main reason is their longevity. On average, anticipate a typical metal roof to last between 30 to 100 years, depending on the type of metal.

Metal Roof
Metal Roof
  • Standing Seam metal roofing system is the most common and withstands between 30 and 50 years.
  • Metal shingles are also popular but up to 30 percent less expensive than standing seam with similar durability.
  • Stone-coated steel tiles are popular in Florida and are an alternative to traditional tiles and shingles. The biggest advantage is it’s not too heavy.
  • Ribbed metal panels will carry on up to 50 years with expert installation. However, go for Kynar 500 coated metal panels instead of acrylic to avoid discoloration and peeling paint.

The price starts at $115 per square and can go up to $900 per square.

Composite Roof

This is a shortcut to achieving similar looks to a cedar shingle roof while paying almost half the price. The roof is lightweight, strong, and offers beautiful aesthetics depending on your design choice.

With proper installation, a composite roof will last up to 50 years. While this roof may prove to be durable, look out for leaks because repairs can be challenging. The cost will vary from $7.75 to $14.50 per square foot.

Slate Tile Roof

Slate tile roofs are suitable for regions with harsh weather conditions. This roof will handle anything thrown at them. This reputation has earned it a place in many homeowners’ hearts.

Having said that, slate roofs are common among the affluent because of their luxurious nature. Prepare to spend $600 to $1,500 per square. They are also heavy but will stay put for 50 to 100 years if installed by specialists.

EPDM Rubber Roof

If roof beauty doesn’t feature in your must-have list when house hunting or building, a rubber roof is a great choice. This roof is cost-effective and offers a decent lifespan – between 25 and 30 years. To achieve such longevity, consider buying EPDM rubber roofs.

This material is leak-resistant since it’s seamless although some have seams. These are prone to failure and may cause leakage. Expect to pay $5.50 to $9.50 per square foot.

Factors that Affect a Roof’s Lifespan

To answer the question, “how long does a roof last?” understand the factors that affect a roof’s lifespan. Let’s dissect each factor in detail.

1. Types of Roofing Material

The outermost layer of the roof absorbs the first impact of any external element. Therefore, choose a durable roofing material to protect the entire roof system.

In that case, the recommended roofing material is asphalt shingles because it offers the best value for money in terms of aesthetics, energy efficiency, resilience, and price.

2. Underlayment

As the name suggests, this goes between the roof deck and roof shingles. In most cases, this is a synthetic material or a felt sheet that acts as a protection layer against sun rays, chemicals, and moisture from ice, rain or snow.

Investing in proper underlayment will increase a roof’s longevity. It will also protect your home for the interval of a shingle repair.

3. Ventilation

Proper air circulation allows for airflow outside and inside the roof. With proper airflow, moisture and temperature levels inside the attic are regulated, thereby increasing the roof’s lifespan.

Proper ventilation will also prevent ice dam formation on the roof’s eaves during winter. Ice dams can damage a home’s interior, walls, and ceilings. Therefore, consult an expert roofer to explore viable ventilation systems.

4. Installation

The roofing materials may be the best in the market, but if the installation doesn’t match the quality, expect to make repairs sooner than later. Keep in mind, diverse roofs require distinctive fitting and consulting a proficient roofer is the best way to go.

5. Weather Conditions

A roof’s lifespan depends on where you live, with great attention to the climate conditions. While most roofing materials can withstand harsh weather such as hailstones, strong winds, and heavy rain, they only do so to a certain point.  

Seek advice from a qualified roofer to get the best roofing material for your region.

FAQs

How often do you need to replace a Roof?

This depends on several factors. The roof material is one such aspect and you can expect to replace asphalt shingles more often. Weather conditions in your area will also affect a roof’s longevity.

Proper installation will give you time before thinking about replacement.

How long can a 30-year-old roof last?

The obvious answer is 30 years, correct? Wrong. Most of the time, a 30-year-old shingle will not endure its projected years. The same applies for a 20, 40, and 50-year-old shingle. On average, a 30-year-old roof will last up to half its projected time.

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