How Long Does A Roof Last?

Get to know how long a roof lasts under ideal conditions, the various factors that affect the lifespan of a roof, and common signs that it's time to contact a roofing professional.

While a roof replacement isn’t the most exciting renovation for most homeowners, understanding when a roof replacement is needed is something every property owner should be aware of. Waiting too long to replace your roof will very likely cost you far more than the cost of the roof alone, with damage to the attic, framing, masonry, and siding being some common damage that coincides with a roof that has extended long past its reasonable lifespan. Today, we’re going to dive into the various factors that affect the lifespan of a roof, so you as a property owner can better understand when it’s time to update arguably the most important factor in keeping your home water tight. 

Different Types of Roofs & Their Lifespans

While there are an abundance of available roofing systems, it’s important to realize that not all roofing systems are created equal, and not all roofing systems are suitable for every environment. The suggested lifespan for a roofing system is typically based on proper installation, ideal weather conditions, and regular maintenance, so the actual lifespan a property owner gets from their roofing system can vary significantly. 

Even within the same category of roofing material, there are variances in quality which can dramatically affect the lifespan. However, there is no question that some products are more durable than others. As a general overview, here’s a brief list of common roofing systems and their suggested lifespan.       

A weathered clay tile roof

Sloped Roofing Systems

  • Asphalt Shingles
    • 3 Tab:  15 – 30 years 
    • Laminated: 25 – 30 years  
  • Metal Roofing
    • Standing Seam: 50 – 80 years 
    • Corrugated: 30 – 45 years
    • Metal Shingles: 40 – 70 years
  • Wood Roofing
    • Wood Shake: 20 – 40 years
    • Wood Shingles:  30 – 40 years
  • Tile Roofing
    • Clay: 50 – 100+ years
    • Concrete: 50 years
    • Slate: 50 – 200+ years (depending on the type of slate) 

Flat Roofing Systems

  • Modified Bitumen: 20 years 
  • TPO: 20 – 30 years
  • Built Up Roofing: 20 – 30 years
  • EPDM: 40 – 50 years

Factors That Impact The Life Expectancy Of A Roof

While the numbers above can provide a rough idea of how long a roofing system can last in ideal conditions, there are other factors, both inside and outside your control, that can dramatically decrease the life expectancy of your roof.

Severe Weather Events

One of the most common factors that can cause severe damage to your roof is weather events. Severe weather such as hail and wind cause billions of dollars in property damage annually, with a large percentage of that damage being roof damage specifically. Once hail reaches around 1” in diameter, or wind speeds reach upwards of 50 mph, your roof is susceptible to damage. This is especially true of asphalt shingles. 

Other roofing materials may have a higher tolerance for weather damage, but it’s always a good idea to have your roof inspected for damage after any major storm. Firstly to ensure that your roofing system is not compromised, but also to ensure adequate insurance coverage, as insurance carriers often have specific deadlines regarding when insurance claims need to be submitted and work completed. 

   A thunderstorm with the potential for hail and roof damage.

Climate & Environment 

Depending on what part of the country you reside in, you may have noticed that a certain type of roofing material is more common in your area than others. Asphalt Shingles are by the far the most common type of roofing material installed across the United States, and while it’s a good choice for most climates, they won’t always perform to their highest potential in particular parts of the country. 

For example in southwestern climates such as Arizona, the prolonged exposure to high temperatures and UV rays can cause them to degrade at a faster rate, leaving them susceptible to defects such as granule loss, shrinking, and cracking. This is why in such climates it is common to find roofs using clay tiles, due to their ability to absorb heat.

In areas of the country that are prone to wildfire, there are often local ordinances that prohibit the use of wooden roofing materials, due to their lack of fire resistance. In such areas, you may find that metal roofing is more common.

Certain weather events such as hail or hurricanes are also far more frequent in certain areas, so when selecting a roofing material, make sure to pay attention to the specific strengths and weaknesses of the material to ensure it’s a proper fit for your area’s particular climate. 

Quality of Installation      

The quality of your roofing system is only as good as the quality of the installation. Even if you select the highest quality materials, a poor installation will almost always lead to costly repairs, and in some cases even a complete roof replacement long before the materials should have required replacement. 

All roofing systems are designed to shed water, but in order to do so effectively, every potential point of entry needs to be properly sealed. This includes areas such as overlaps, seams, roof to wall intersections, vents, penetrations, etc. If the roofing material, underlayment, or flashing is not properly installed this can lead to water damage to components such as the roof deck, siding, trim, insulation, etc. 

If such damage occurs, you will often need to remove portions of the roof in order to replace the underlying components. If the damage is extensive enough, especially to the wood decking, which is critical for proper attachment of the roofing system, you may even need to remove the entire roof covering, which can cost you almost as much as full replacement, even if the covering itself is still in good condition. Not to mention all the interior damage that has likely occurred from leaks!       


When considering the life expectancy of a roof, it’s important to understand that the suggested life expectancy is specifically in regards to the roof covering. The roof covering refers to the outermost material of the roof such as asphalt shingles, metal, etc. However, a roofing system is composed of a combination of roofing materials, and not all the components have the same life expectancy. 

For example, synthetic underlayment often has a suggested lifespan of 25-35 years. While this may coincide roughly with the lifespan of asphalt shingles, a long lasting roof covering such as clay tile will almost certainly outlast the underlying components. Metal components of a roofing system such as flashing, vents, or nails that are not properly coated have a tendency to rust. Once the metal starts to deteriorate, it creates potential points of water entry. In such cases, while the roof covering itself may be in good condition, other components of the roofing system may need to be replaced.

Even with a roofing system such as asphalt shingles, whose components have a comparable lifespan, regular maintenance is still a critical aspect in ensuring the longevity of the roof. Issues such as ice dams, clogged ventilation, popped nails, rusted metal, deteriorating sealant, etc, are all issues that can be solved with relatively inexpensive solutions, but can cause severe damage to the roofing system if not addressed in a timely manner. Regular maintenance is also a great method for documenting the current condition of the roof, which can be a massive benefit in getting insurance claims approved

In general, you should have your roof inspected every 6 months to 1 year, and at a minimum after every severe weather event. Doing so can save you a lot of time and money in repairs, replacements, and denied insurance claims. 

Signs That Your Roof May Need To Be Replaced 

Despite the roof being one of the most important components protecting your home, the fact is, most homeowners pay very little attention to their roofs. The best way to tell if your roof needs to be repaired or replaced is to have it inspected by a qualified roofing professional, however, there are some signs you can look for as a homeowner to know when it’s time to contact a roofing company to take a closer look.

  • Leaks: If you notice wet spots or mold on the interior of your home, especially on your ceiling or upper walls, this is a likely indication of a roof leak
  • Missing or Broken Shingles: If you look at your roof and notice missing shingles, or find shingle material around the perimeter of your home, the sealant holding the shingles in place is likely compromised. This adhesive strip can degrade over time, or be blown loose by strong winds. Additionally, installation errors such as an insufficient number of nails per shingle course or performing the installation in weather that is not approved by manufacturer guidelines, can lead to loose shingles even on newer roofs.
  • Severe Weather: If a severe weather event such as hail greater than 1” in diameter or winds greater than 50 mph impacts your neighborhood, you should always have a roofing professional inspect your roof for damage.
  • Buckling, Curling, or Blistering Shingles:  If your shingles have a wavy appearance, curled edges, or blisters, this is often a sign of moisture being absorbed by the decking, underlayment, or the shingle itself. Excess moisture buildup is typically a sign of insufficient ventilation. Buckling or curling shingles is also commonly seen on roofs with multiple layers of shingles, as the top layer of shingles does not have an adequate surface to adhere to.    
  • Pooling Water: Roofing systems are designed to shed water, not hold water. Even so called flat roofing systems are intended to have a slight pitch in order to move water towards the drainage system. Pooling water can lead to leaks and early roof failure by speeding up the deterioration process of the roofing materials. Additionally, your roof structure is designed for a specific load. If enough water pools on your roof, it can exceed the designed load and lead to sagging or even collapse in extreme cases.
  • Wear & Tear: If your roof is nearing the end of its suggested lifespan, or showing general signs of deterioration, there are likely failure points developing that need to be addressed sooner than later. 

An old shingle roof with obvious signs of wear and tear that requires replacement.

What’s The Best Roofing System For My Home?

The best roofing system for your home is highly specific to the local climate, budget, the design of the home, and personal preference among other things. Asphalt Shingles are one of the most versatile options, as well as being the most commonly installed due to their affordability and abundance of color and styles, but they are not the best option for every home. If you are looking for additional information on how to select the right roofing system for your home, check out our comprehensive guide to residential roofing systems.      


How long a roof lasts is determined by a number of factors. While the suggested lifespan of a particular roofing system can give you a rough idea of how long that roof will last under ideal conditions, it is often the case that repair or replacement will be required prior to what’s suggested. In order to give your roofing system the best chance at performing to its full potential we cannot recommend enough the importance of a quality installation, regular maintenance, and adequate insurance coverage in case of severe weather events.

If your roof is showing any signs of damage, or if you want to protect your home or business with a roofing maintenance program, contact Brahma Roofing & Construction for more information!

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