When you spend money on something, you want it to last a long time. You wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars on a new car if you were told it would break down in a few months.
The same goes for your roof. It’s common to wonder, “how long does a roof last?” 🤔 when you’re due for a roof replacement or when assessing the state of your current roof. Let’s take a closer look at how long some of the most popular roof materials last, including:
- Asphalt shingles
- Metal roofing
- Flat roofing
- Clay & concrete tiles
- Natural slate
- Cedar shakes
1) Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingles are the “America’s Sweetheart” of the roofing world. 75-80% of homes in The United States have asphalt shingle roofs.
There’s a reason this roofing material is so popular: it offers decent longevity for a great, affordable price. In fact, asphalt shingles are by far the most affordable roofing material on the market.
However, even though they offer a decent lifespan, they won’t last as long as other roofing materials. On average, an asphalt shingle roof lasts 15 to 25 years.
It’s important to get your asphalt roof regularly inspected and maintained so your roofing contractor can clue you in about when you’ll be due for a replacement.
Another type of shingle is incredibly popular for homeowners, and that’s composite. Composite shingles are synthetic materials made from engineered materials, recycled plastics, and rubber. You may also see these shingles referred to as “architectural shingles” or “laminated shingles.”
They are made to resemble the look of traditional asphalt shingles, slate tiles, or wood shakes. However, even though they resemble asphalt shingles, they are more durable and require less maintenance.
Composite shingles can last up to 40 years for a slightly higher price tag.
2) Flat Roofing
If you own a commercial building or apartment complex, you’re likely dealing with a flat roof. One of the most common flat roofing materials is built-up roofing (BUR). BUR consists of multiple layers of asphalt, fiberglass, and ply sheets which form a protective layer.
BUR roofs are fire-resistant and pretty affordable— just be aware that the installation process can be a bit smelly!
Typically, BUR flat roofs last between 20 and 30 years.
Other types of commercial flat roofs include:
- Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO): 10 to 20 years
- Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM): 15 to 25 years
- Modified Bitumen: ~20 years
- Green Roofs: 20 to 40 years
3) Metal Roofing
Asphalt shingles need to watch out because metal roofing is growing in popularity— and fast! When many people think of metal roofs, they think of old, noisy, and rusted tin roofs. However, modern metal roofing couldn’t be more different.
Modern metal roofs typically last 40-70 years! And while they’re more expensive than asphalt shingles, the price point is still very reasonable for the impressive longevity.
Plus, metal roofs are sleek and aesthetically appealing. They are 100% fire resistant and increase home value. You can have a metal roof installed with standing seam panels or with metal shingles.
4) Clay or Concrete Tiles
Even though the infamous terracotta clay roof tiles are popular in the Southwestern states, they can be found anywhere across the country. There are also concrete tile roofs with a similar appearance (minus the quintessential orange color) and degree of durability.
Tile roofs are some of the longest-lasting materials, and they have the price point to match.
- Concrete tiles typically last 50+ years.
- Clay tile roofs can last 100+!
Since these materials are pretty heavy, they require a sturdy roof frame to hold the weight. They also must be installed by highly-skilled professionals. Maintenance is fairly simple and low-effort, but if you notice any cracked or broken tiles, it’s vital to replace them right away.
But, if you go with clay or concrete tiles, your home likely won’t need another roof in your lifetime!
5) Natural Slate
Natural slate is made from real stone and is by far the longest-lasting roofing material you can find. Slate tiles can last between 100 to 200 years! 😯
Slate has a tendency to naturally split into flat slabs, which lend themselves to an attractive and eye-catching roof style. Since it’s the most durable roof material, it’s also the most expensive. You’ll need to hire expert craftsmen to handle a slate installation. Due to the high expense, slate is usually installed on larger luxury homes or historical buildings.
Slate roofs are easy to maintain, but you should schedule regular maintenance and inspections to help keep your slate roof in good condition, so you get a fantastic return on your investment.
6) Cedar Shakes
Cedar shakes are a more customized material since each shake is hand split to achieve a unique look. This wooden material is a bit contentious in the roofing world because some people love them, and others don’t recommend them at all.
At the end of the day, cedar shakes are a more expensive material, and they last about 30 to 40 years. One of the most difficult aspects of having a cedar shakes roof is its high-maintenance nature. As a homeowner, you need to either practice the maintenance yourself or have a professional roofing contractor come to your home frequently. You need to:
- Remove debris as soon as it falls on your roof
- Replace split shakes immediately
- Repair curled or cupped shakes right away
- Eliminate moss
Since cedar shakes are a natural wood material, they are never recommended for homes in wildfire-prone regions as they are not fire-resistant. All in all, cedar shakes serve best as an aesthetic choice for homeowners, as they’re not terribly durable for the price and required maintenance.
How to Choose the Right Material for Your Home
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best roof material for your home beyond durability. You want to consider:
- Your budget
- Your regional weather conditions
- How much weight your existing roof framing can hold
- If the style will compliment your house and fit in with your neighborhood
- If the type of roofing is allowed with local building codes
- How eco-friendly the material is
For example, if you have a tight budget and money is your main concern, you’ll probably want to stick with asphalt shingles. While they aren’t 100% fire-resistant, they can usually last a couple of hours before catching flame. They also aren’t the most eco-friendly roof type, so keep that in mind if that consideration is important to you.
However, if you live in a wildfire-prone area like California, you may want to opt for a fully fire-resistant material like metal or clay tiles.
And even if you want the most durable material like concrete or slate, your home may not be built with enough support to handle the weight. Talking with a professional roofer will help you narrow down the best material for your roof so you can avoid premature roof failure and get the most out of your investment.
How to Increase Your Roof’s Lifespan
It’s important to note that the life expectancy of each of these roofing materials is dependent on regular roof maintenance. If you neglect your roof by failing to schedule regular inspections and repairs, its longevity will quickly diminish before your eyes.
If you want to get a solid return on your investment and help your roof last as long as possible, it’s vital to:
- Regularly clean out your gutters and downspouts
- Remove debris from your roof
- Schedule inspections after storms
- Schedule yearly maintenance with an experienced roofing contractor
- Schedule repairs as soon as they’re needed
- Limit foot traffic as much as possible
Schedule Your Repairs or Replacement With an Award-Winning Team
Many professional roofing contractors around the country will only work with asphalt shingles, so it can be difficult to find an experienced roofer who can handle the material of your choice.
At Scro’s Roofing, we have the knowledge and experience to work with all the materials listed here. Whether you need maintenance, repairs, or a total replacement, you can count on our friendly Raleigh-based team to deliver the results you need.
Give us a call today with any questions you may have!