How Long Does a Roof Last? Signs You Need a New Roof

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 last anywhere from 15 to 25 years before requiring 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.

1. Asphalt Shingles

3 tab shingle is the most basic and least costly asphalt shingle option for slopped roofs. A typical 3-tab asphalt shingle roof will last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

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. 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 (thermal shocks) commonly associated with southern states and dessert climate zones (think Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, and parts of California dessert), asphalt shingles can develop cracks, resulting in a greatly diminished lifespan and premature failure.

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

Maximum wind uplift for most architectural shingle products is 110 MPH. With a special installation method and roof-frame bracing, the wind uplift rating can be increased to 130 MPH.

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 30 years, depending on the environment.

GAF Premium Asphalt Shingles: Camelot Williamsburg Slate

Wind uplift ratings for premium shingles are similar to architectural shingles. Premium shingles can also include special properties such as enhanced solar reflectance aka CoolRoof rating and impact 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 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.

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2. Metal Roofing

Standing Seam is the most popular residential metal roofing system featuring concealed fasteners. When installed correctly, a typical standing seam metal roof will last anywhere from 30 to 50 years.

Premium metals such as stainless steel, titanium, zinc, and copper can last well over 100 years.

Standing seam metal roofs, depending on the profile and metal thickness, can have a wind uplift rating ranging from 90 MPH to 150 MPH. 110 MPH is a common wind uplift rating for most standing seam roofs.

Did you know? PV solar panels can be easily mounted on a standing seam roof, without having to drill any holes. More details here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/roof-issues-to-address-before-installing-solar-panels/

Metal Shingles are another popular metal roofing option for homes. Metal shingles are normally 20% to 30% less expensive compared to standing seam. More details here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/metal-roofing-cost/

Metal shingle roofs offer similar durability and longevity and wind uplift ratings as standing seam.

Ribbed Metal Panels are a more affordable metal roofing option for homes. When looking for a value-priced metal roof, it’s always a good idea to make sure you are getting a system comprised of Kynar 500 coated metal panels, not acrylic, unless you want to deal with peeling paint and discoloration issues.

Ribbed panels can be a good option for a steeper gable style roof. With proper installation, you can expect a 25 to 40 years lifespan from a ribbed metal roof with exposed fasteners.

A ribbed metal panel roofing system featuring concealed fasteners will offer a longer lifespan ranging from 30 to 50 years, depending on the environment.

Stone-coated Steel Tiles are another popular metal roofing option, especially in Florida.

Gerard stone-coated steel-tile roof – Barrel Vault Profile

Available as Galvalume or Galvanized Steel, stone-coated steel tiles are a light-weight, durable, and long-lasting alternative to shingles and traditional tiles.

With the wind uplift ratings ranging from 110 MPH to 155 MPH, and an expected lifespan of 30 to 50 years, a stone coated metal roof is an excellent, light-weight roofing option for hurricane prone environments.

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Major discoloration and chipping or peeling paint accompanied by excessive, widespread rust. If there are visible signs of excessive roof leaks — stained ceilings and water buckets strategically placed in the attic, or there are leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs, such as reflashing a chimney or skylight, then it’s time to consider replacement.

3. Concrete and Clay Tiles

Clay tiles are an excellent roofing option for premium homes. Clay tiles are heavy and require a specially-designed roof frame to support the weight of the roof.

A properly installed clay tile roof should last anywhere from 50 to 100 years.

Spanish style clay tile roof on a stucco home in Florida

Clay tiles normally have really good wind uplift ratings, but cracked and lose or missing tile pieces can create a hazardous situation during a hurricane.

Concrete tiles are similar to clay tiles in many regards including their heavy weight. They are however a less costly tile roofing option, with an expected lifespan of 40 to 75 years.

Boral Saxony 900 Hartford Slate concrete tile – Toffee

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Many cracked or loose tiles and/or leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs.

4. Cedar Shingles and Shakes

Comparable in cost to metal roofing, cedar shingles and shakes are a common roofing option for beach homes and cape code style houses. Cedar shake roofs are designed to last 20 to 35 years on average. With regular maintenance, however, a cedar shake roof can last around 40 years.

A wind uplift rating of 110 MPH or higher can be achieved with proper installation.

Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time to Consider Replacement: Cracked wood shingles or leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs.

5. Natural Slate

Slate roofs are notoriously expensive, heavy, and long-lasting. A quality slate roof can last anywhere from 50 to 100 years.

Slate roofs are commonly installed on premium homes and fancy McMansions.

Slate roofs have excellent wind uplift properties, but a few pieces of slate flying off of a roof during a hurricane can be dangerous due to their weight and sharp edges. More info on performance of slate roofs during hurricanes can be found here: http://www.traditionalroofing.com/TR5_hurricane.html

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Cracked, missing, or loose slates, or leaks that don’t respond to simple repairs.

6. Composite Roofs

Synthetic composite shingles and tiles are made to resemble natural slate tiles and cedar shakes. They are strong, light-weight, and with proper installation can last 30 to 50 years or longer. Cost-wise, they are comparable to standing seam metal roofs.

A synthetic composite tile roofing system such as that from DaVinci is rated to withstand straight line winds of up to 110 MPH and hurricane grade wind uplift.

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Roof leaks that don’t respond to repairs.

7. EPDM Rubber

We are cognizant of the fact that some homes have nearly flat or low-sloped roofs, which is why we included popular roofing membranes in our list of roofing systems and their expected lifespan.

EPDM rubber is one of the most common flat roofing membranes on residential homes in the US. It’s not particularly strong nor long lasting due to its weakest point; the seams.

EPDM Rubber installed on a flat roof by GemTile

EPDM roofs are either glued at the seams or have tape connecting the seams. In either case, the seams are a common point of failure in EPDM roofs. Expected lifespan before requiring a repair or maintenance — normally repairing leaky seams, is 5 to 15 years.

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Major membrane punctures and/or excessive roof leaks from widespread failure around the seams.

8. PVC and TPO Membranes

Both PVS and TPO membranes are single-ply roofing systems offering a more durable and longer-lasting alternative to EPDM rubber. Thanks to the thickness of their reinforced membranes and hot air welded seams forming a permanent bond at the seams, PVC and TPO roofs can last twice as long as EPDM rubber.

Energy Efficient, Solar-Reflective PVC membrane on a flat roof

A lifespan of 20 to 30 years is what you can expect from these energy-efficient and long-lasting single ply membrane roofs.

Pro Tip: If your home is located in a hurricane zone, then you should opt for a fully-adhered rather than mechanically-attached single-ply membrane.

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Age approaching 30 years, loss of membrane thickness or hot air weldability with PVC, major cuts or roof damage from a fallen tree, and/or multiple, untraceable leaks that don’t respond to remedial repairs.

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4 thoughts on “How Long Does a Roof Last? Signs You Need a New Roof

  1. Esdras Martinez

    Where I live in South Dakota, the average asphalt shingle roof will last an average of 7 -10 years because of quick temperature changes and hail.

    That said, standing seam metal roof will last well over 50 years without problems, if installed properly and with the seamless 24ga coated steel. The 24ga Kynar coated steel will have way better paint finish quality than a typical standing seam roof that you can buy in a Menards.

    Menards offering is junk compared to the 24ga. I really don’t like it when people compare the standing seam because there is a huge difference on its different metals and quality that it’s just hard to compare; you can get a 30 year cheap standing seam roof or it can go up to a 100+ year copper roof.

    There are still some standing seam over 500 years old!

    Another important variable = is the difference between a 26ga compared to a 24ga.
    The 24ga is about 2 times as strong and will normally have way better paint finish than 28 or 29ga (the normal shop or barn metal). We better not even talk about, 28 or 29ga steel is just junk compared to the 24ga.

    I have almost a decade working with standing seam. My uncle started before me (he is retired now). I’ve worked with shingles too, and we have had to do a lots of shingles again and again because of hail or because they get old or wind blows them away, but we have never had any standing seam roof have a water leak or problems with the paint fading.

    I work with standing seam, but we don’t like installing thinner gauges such as 28 or 29ga steel panels or anything else that won’t last well over 50 years.

    Reply
    1. The Roof Guy Post author

      Thank you for your input Esdras. We agree 28ga and 29ga steel standing seam panels from Menard’s shouldn’t be used on residential roofs. 26ga and 24ga steel panels coated with Kynar 500 paint would be a far better choice for residential applications.

      Reply
  2. Kevan Doxtater

    Regarding EPDM membrane being vulnerable to roof leaks due to failure at the seams that rely on glue, I would like to say that nobody glues seams any more, they are now seamed by being taped together, and depending on the dimensions of the structure the seams may not be necessary or be very minimal.

    I’ve inspected many 30 year old fully adhered 60 mil reinforced EPDM roofs in very good condition.

    Reply
    1. The Roof Guy Post author

      While seams are not “glued” anymore, peel and stick seam-tape method uses EPDM primer, which in reality is still the same good ol’ GLUE. It creates a chemical bond (glued bond), and primer will invariably degrade over time, just like the old glue… albeit not as fast.

      Also those “30 year old fully adhered 60 mil reinforced EPDM roofs” have in all likelihood had multiple expensive repairs, re-seaming, patching, etc., because glue/primer will never last 30 years.

      Reply

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