Average Roof Lifespan – How Long Does a Roof Last?

If you are in the process of buying a new home, you probably want to know the age of the roof and how much longer it will last. Similarly, if you’ve lived in your home for a while, you are probably also wondering about the current condition of the roof and whether it’s time to consider some viable replacement options.

Curled-up shingles

This guide outlines the expected lifespans of most popular roofing systems for homes. Print it out and use it to assess the life expectancy of any roof when buying a new home or planning for future roof replacement needs in your own home.

Right Off the Bat: A typical asphalt shingle roof will normally last anywhere from 15 to 25 years (and up to 30+ years in some rare cases) before requiring a replacement.

That said, there are several different kinds of asphalt shingles, as well as other roofing materials to consider when estimating longevity of a particular roofing system. Let’s get started.

Average Lifespans for Most Popular Residential Roof Systems:

  1. Asphalt Shingle
  2. Metal Roof
  3. Tile Roof
  4. Cedar Shingle and Shake
  5. Natural Slate
  6. Synthetic composite roof
  7. EPDM Rubber flat roof
  8. PVC single-ply membrane
  9. TPO membrane

1. Asphalt Shingles

3-tab or 25-year Shingles shingle is the most basic and least costly asphalt roofing option for slopped residential roofs. A typical 3-tab asphalt roof will last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, depending on the environment and slope of the roof.

Cracks or thermal splitting in asphalt shingles

3-tab shingles are an OK option for temperate climates, but they are not at all suitable for storm-prone areas like Florida. The maximum wind-uplift a 3-tab shingle roof can withstand is 60 MPH to 70 MPH.

Note: When exposed to strong, direct sunlight and rapid temperature changes i.e., thermal shocks that are commonly associated with southern states and desert climate zones — think places like Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, and parts of California that are mostly deserts — asphalt shingles can develop cracks, resulting in a greatly diminished lifespan and premature failure.

Architectural aka 30-Year and 40-year Dimensional or Laminate Shingles are thicker and hence more durable and longer lasting than their entry-level counterparts, three-tab strip shingles. Most architectural shingle roofs will last anywhere from 15 to 25 years, depending on the environment.

Maximum wind uplift for most architectural shingle products is 110 MPH. With an enhanced 6-nail installation method and roof-frame bracing, the wind uplift rating can be increased to 130 MPH. The one exception is the GAF’s Timberline HDZ shingle that comes with the standard 130 MPH warranty, even when installed using the standard nailing method.

50 Year Premium Shingles are normally fancier-looking asphalt shingles designed for premium homes. A premium shingle is normally thicker and will last longer than a mid-range architectural shingle. Expected lifespan of a premium shingle roof is anywhere from 20 to 35 years with proper maintenance, depending on the environment.

GAF Premium Asphalt Shingles: Camelot Williamsburg Slate

Wind uplift ratings for premium designer shingles are similar to architectural shingles. Premium shingles (like architectural shingles) can also include special properties such as enhanced solar reflectance aka CoolRoof rating and hail impact damage resistance for hail prone areas.

See more details on various types of premiums shingles here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/gaf-vs-certainteed-roofing-shingles/

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider a Full Replacement: If the asphalt shingles on your roof have developed major cracks, lost a lot of sand granules, are chipping and look dried-up or curled up, then you know it’s time for a new roof.

If the shingles are still in a seemingly good shape, but the roof has sustained significant storm or hail damage, then it’s probably time to consider replacement or partial replacement.

New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

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TPO vs. PVC Roofing Cost in 2021, Plus Pros & Cons

If you are looking for a cost-effective and durable single-ply roofing system for your flat or low-slope roof, a TPO (thermoplastic olefin) membrane may be a solid, energy-efficient option.

TPO membrane installation

Cost

A typical residential TPO roof will cost between $7.50 and $14.50 per sq. ft. installed. Thus, for an average-sized 1,200 sq. ft. flat roof, your total cost to install a new TPO roof can range from $9,000 to $17,400, depending on the project specific variables, contractor choice, and your home’s location.

The above cost assumes a low-slope roof on a single-story or two-story house, the cost of materials and supplies, removal, and disposal of up-to one layer of existing material such as EPDM rubber, permitting, installation, and a 5-year workmanship warranty.

Note: the cost can be significantly higher in expensive metro areas and on complex flat roofs that involve additional work and/or are difficult to access.

New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

Did you know? TPO membrane can provide combined benefits of both, EPDM rubber and PVC roofs, but at a more economical cost than PVC.

It’s therefore not surprising that TPO roofing systems are quickly growing in popularity and demand, in both residential and commercial flat roof markets.

TPO in a Nutshell

flat-roof

A TPO membrane is made from ethylene propylene rubber. Special technology is used to chemically bind together, rubber, ethylene (an organic gaseous substance) and propylene (a byproduct of petroleum refining). At the end, numerous filler materials are added, such as talc, carbon filler and fiberglass. — These fillers reinforce the TPO membrane’s strength and durability.

Did you know? TPO roofing membrane has been specifically designed to have the advantages of a rubber roof, combined with hot air-weldable seams for extra durability.

TPO membranes have been manufactured in the US since the early 1990’s and are now the fastest growing segment of the US single-ply roofing industry.

TPO Membrane Options

TPO roofs are manufactured to meet a variety of needs and design specifications. They are available in white, light gray, and black colors. White TPO roofs offer the best solar radiant heat reflection properties, hence they are the most popular choice thanks to their energy-saving potential.

Single Ply Membrane on a Residential Flat Roof

For most residential applications, TPO membranes come in two thicknesses options: 45 mils (.045″) or 60 mils (.060″). The width and length of the membrane can vary depending on the manufacturer, with a typical TPO membrane roll being 6 to 6.5 ft. wide and 100 ft. long.

Other membrane thicknesses and widths are also available depending on the manufacturer, including a 3 feet-wide rolls for the edges of the roof. Commercial grade TPO membranes may have a thickness of up to 80 mils (.080″) and may come in up to 12 feet-wide rolls.

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Best Roofing Materials for Homes 2021: Material Costs, Plus Pros & Cons

This comprehensive guide to roofing materials is all the research you’ll need to evaluate the top choices for residential re-roofing and new construction projects in 2021.

What to Expect: In this guide, we’ll cover the following most common roofing options: asphalt shingles, cedar wood shingles and shakes, metal shingles and standing seam metal roofs, concrete, clay, and fiber-cement tiles, natural stone and faux slate/synthetic shingles, and the latest BiPV solar tile options.

A new asphalt shingle roof with PV solar panels

For each material, we cover the following topics:

  • An overview including how the roofing is made
  • Pros and cons including maintenance, repair, durability, options, home styles they work with and more
  • Cost for materials and installation
  • Choosing your roofing material: The “bottom line” summaries of each type
  • How to save money on a new roof

Types and Styles of Roofing Materials

The material options presented below cover more than 95 percent of all residential roofs in the United States. So, unless you’ve got something unusual in mind like BiPV solar tiles – oh, wait, we’ve included those – or a vegetative green roof, the options you’re considering are likely discussed below

1. Asphalt/Fiberglass Composition Shingles
2. Wood Shingles and Shakes
3. Metal Roofing
4. Concrete and Clay Roof Tiles
5. Natural and Synthetic Composite Slate Tiles
6. BiPV Solar Shingles and Tiles
7. Low-sloped and Flat Roof Options

Asphalt/Fiberglass Composition Shingles

More than 75 percent of all single-family homes in the US are covered with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to the more energy-efficient and durable materials like metal.

Asphalt (composition) shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options, and do a good job protecting homes from the nature’s elements.

There are two main types of asphalt shingles:

  • Fiberglass shingles start with a fiberglass mesh mat that is covered in asphalt and topped with granules that provide color and reflect some of the sunlight. Shingles made with fiberglass are lightweight and resist tearing.
  • Old-school organic asphalt shingles (almost non-existent today) would normally have paper, an organic material, saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. The shingles are heavier and harder to work with than fiberglass, but they generally offer better stability in high winds. Although you can still see them on many roofs, organic shingles have been mostly phased out or discontinued over the course of last decade. Why? Manufactures have stopped making organic shingles due to their tendency to dry out, become less-waterproof and more prone to excess moisture absorption.

Pros and Cons

The advantages of asphalt shingles are:

  • Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection
  • Look good on most any style home
  • Shingles are often the most affordable roof covering option, especially in good/better ranges
  • The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates
  • The cheapest 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to dress up a home before putting on the market
  • Broad selection of colors and styles including affordable three-tab and architectural shingles that mimic shakes and slate
  • DIY asphalt shingle installation is possible for those with good skills, experience, and equipment
  • No support beyond standard roof sheathing is required for shingles
  • 3-tab shingles are rated for 60-70 MPH wind uplift, while standard architectural shingles are rated for 110 MPH winds; high-wind shingles are rated for 130 MPH
  • High-impact shingles such as the ones manufactured by GAF should be used for heavily wooded locations and areas where large hail is possible
  • Some shingle repairs are easy and cost-effective

A few words of caution:

  • The lifetime cost of shingles is higher than metal, tile, or slate, because composition shingles must be replaced more frequently
  • Cheaper or low-end asphalt shingles like 3-tab or strip shingles may last only 10-15 years in hot, sunny climates like Arizona and Texas
  • Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack prematurely
  • A poorly vented attic will trap heat and significantly shorten asphalt shingle lifespan by cupping or cracking them
  • While the asphalt shingle industry boasts that its products can be recycled for paving, few recycling facilities take asphalt shingles, and they are among the least eco-friendly roofing options
  • After a second layer of shingles needs replacing, all layers must be torn off the roof, creating extra expense and a lot of potential landfill waste
  • Mold or algae can be a problem on shingles in shady areas, unless treated with anti-algae/anti-stain treatments
  • Organic/felt shingles are heavy; getting them to the roof in bundles can be a challenge
New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood delivers a natural dose of beauty to any roof. Cedar, redwood, cypress, and pressure-treated pine shingles and shakes are available.

How are wood shingles and shakes different?

  • Wood shingles are machine-cut and feature cleaner edges and a smooth surface to produce a more uniform appearance.
  • Wood shakes are hand-cut from blocks of wood, so have a more rustic appearance. They’re thicker too, so slightly more expensive than wood shingles.

Pros and Cons

The advantages of wood shingles and shakes are:

  • Wood has natural beauty that ranges from rustic shakes to handsome, neat shingles
  • Cedar and redwood contain oils that make them naturally resistant to moisture and insects
  • Treated wood shingles have a Class A fire rating
  • Cedar shingles and shakes can last 5 to 10 years longer than asphalt when properly maintained, which makes them competitively priced with asphalt over their lifespan
  • Wood has an insulation value twice that of asphalt shingles. However, your home’s insulation levels including walls and attic are far more important than the R-value of the roof covering
  • Many shakes and shingles are made from salvaged trees – those that have fallen over from age or were toppled by storm
  • Wood is recyclable into wood chips, mulch, or compost
  • They enhance a range of architectural styles including Tudor, Victorian, Cape Cod, bungalow and cabin/cottage

Keep these potential disadvantages in mind:

  • Non-treated materials have a Class C fire rating, but wood can cedar shingles and shakes are also available as a more-costly treated option
  • Wood roofing is prohibited in some areas prone to wildfire, so be sure to check with your building department first
  • Untreated wood shakes and shingles are high maintenance – they need to be cleaned consistently to prevent the growth of algae or moss, and debris needs to be cleared to allow the wood to breathe
  • While DIY installation is possible if you have good experience, faults in the installation can lead to quick deterioration of the roof which often includes serious leaks
  • Staining of the shingles and shakes might occur as natural factors cause tannins to be released from the wood
  • While wood is quite durable, but repairs will be expensive if they are required

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