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.
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.
Average Lifespans for Most Popular Residential Roof Systems:
- Asphalt Shingle
- Metal Roof
- Tile Roof
- Cedar Shingle and Shake
- Natural Slate
- Synthetic composite roof
- EPDM Rubber flat roof
- PVC single-ply membrane
- TPO membrane
- Spray Foam Roof
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Metal roofs are an excellent, durable, and energy-efficient alternative to shingles for severe desert-like climates with rapid temperature changes or heavy snow fall and freezing temperatures where asphalt shingles can be easily damaged by ice dams.
Standing seam metal roofs, depending on the profile and metal thickness, can have a wind uplift rating ranging from 90 MPH to 150 MPH. 110-120 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 in the roof. 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 some 10% to 20% less expensive compared to standing seam. More details here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/metal-roof-cost/
Metal shingle roofs can provide a 30 to 50 years of service lifespan with proper installation. They are similar to standing seam in the overall performance including durability, longevity, and wind uplift ratings.
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 factory paint finished metal panels, not acrylic, unless you want to deal with peeling paint and discoloration issues.
Ribbed R and corrugated U panels can be a decent low-cost alternative to asphalt shingles for steeper residential gable style roof. With proper installation, you can expect a 20 to 35 years of lifespan from a quality Kynar 500 ribbed R-panel metal roof with exposed fasteners.
A ribbed metal panel roofing system featuring concealed fasteners will offer a longer lifespan ranging from 30 to 40 years of service life, depending on the environment.
Stone-coated Steel Tiles are another popular metal roofing option, especially in Florida.
With the wind uplift ratings ranging from 110 MPH to 155 MPH, depending on the profile and installation method, 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.
Stone coated steel roofs are also an excellent option for hail prone areas. Unlike asphalt shingles, stone-coated steel tiles come with the actual hailstone damage warranties from top manufacturers, not just ratings.
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.
Clay tiles normally have really good wind uplift ratings up to 120-130 MPH, but any cracked and loose or missing tile pieces can create a hazardous situation during a hurricane.
Concrete tiles are like 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.
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 Cod style houses. Cedar shake roofs are designed to last 25 to 30 years on average. With regular maintenance and staining, however, a cedar shake roof can last around 30-40 years.
A cedar single roof can have a wind uplift rating of up to 173 MPH, while a cedar shake roof can achieve a wind uplift rating of up to 245 MPH with a proper installation. Wood roofs are extremely resilient and durable in providing protection from hurricanes and heavy snow load.
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, depending on the slate tile thickness and grade.
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 a roof during a hurricane can be extremely 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. Composite tiles are strong, lightweight, 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.
A recycled rubber tile roofing system from EuroShield also offers an actual hail damage warranty.
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Roof leaks that don’t respond to basic repairs like repairing a flashing or replacing a missing tile.
7. EPDM Rubber
We are cognizant of the fact that some homes have nearly flat or low-sloped roofs, which is why we’ve included popular roofing membranes in our list of low-slope residential systems and their expected lifespans.
EPDM rubber is one of the most common flat roof membranes on residential homes in the US. It’s not particularly strong nor long lasting due to its weakest point; the seams.
EPDM roofs are either glued at the seams or have tape connecting the seams together. 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 Membrane
A lifespan of 20 to 30+ years is what you can expect from a quality PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl) membrane like IB Roof. Most high-end PVC membranes are at least 50-mils in thickness (and can be up to 80-mils thick). The membrane is flexible, durable, energy-efficient, and long-lasting.
PVC is a high-end single-ply membrane roofing system designed for low slope and flat roofs. PVC is cost-efficient, durable, and long-lasting alternative to other popular and ubiquitous low-slope roofing systems like EPDM rubber, torch-down, BUR, and rolled roofs.
Thanks to the thickness of the reinforced PVC membrane and its hot air welded seams that form a strong permanent bond (the seams are the strongest point in a PVC membrane, while the seams are the weakest point in EPDM rubber), this system can often last twice as long as EPDM rubber roofs.
High-end PVC roofs are also more durable and longer-lasting than TPO membrane roofs (PVC and TPO are most often compared side-by-side). That said, both PVC and TPO roofs are superior to the most popular single-ply membrane, EPDM rubber.
Pro Tip: If your home is in a hurricane zone, then you should opt for a fully-adhered rather than a mechanically attached single-ply membrane roof to prevent damage from strong wind uplift.
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Age approaching 30 years, loss of membrane thickness or hot air weldability, major cuts, or widespread damage from a fallen tree, and/or multiple, untraceable leaks that don’t respond to remedial repairs.
9. TPO Membrane
TPO (Thermoplastic olefin) membrane looks very similar to PVC, but TPO is a completely different system with very different formulation. Both PVC and TPO are single-ply membrane roofing systems designed for low slope roofs. Both systems have hot air welded seams that are strong and durable.
A lifespan of 15 to 25 years is what you can expect from a quality TPO membrane roof. Like PVC, TPO roofs are energy-efficient and can last longer than an EPDM rubber roof (the most popular single ply roofing membrane on the market).
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: Age approaching 20-25 years, major cuts, or widespread membrane damage from a fallen tree, and/or multiple, untraceable leaks that don’t respond to remedial repairs.
10. Spray Foam Roof
Spray foam roofs are energy-efficient and long-lasting liquid roof coatings that can be applied to many different types of existing roofing surfaces including standing seam, EPDM rubber, TPO, BUR, and even asphalt shingle and concrete/clay tile roofs.
SPF roofs are typically used on low-slope commercial roofs but they can also be used on residential flat roofs.
Spray polyurethane foam roofs can normally last between 20+ years, but with a proper annual maintenance and timely repairs (as needed in case of hail damage, fallen trees, etc.), and a re-application of a topcoat layer every 10-20 years, a service lifespan of 40+ years is possible.
Did you know? SPF roofs can be refreshed every 10-20 years for 50+ years, rather than requiring a tear-off and reroof. This significantly reduces the long-term/lifetime cost of the roof compared to BUR, TPO, and EPDM rubber.
Warranties: 30-mil elastomeric top coatings are typically warrantied for 20 years, but can last longer than that with annual inspections and maintenance if needed.
To maintain the warranty, the roof should be inspected yearly and after any major storms that produce large hail or wind-blown debris.
Under normal conditions, the foam might experience minor cracks after 10-15 years, and those cracks should be filled with caulk.
Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: If the SPF roof has had a lot of foot traffic and multiple topcoats have been applied, with the underlying spray foam showing sings of age after several decades (30 to 50 years), then it’s time to evaluate whether minor repairs to the cracks in the foam are sufficient. If not, then it’s time for replacement.
However, if minor repairs to any cracks in the foam are sufficient, then another application of a topcoat should extend the lifespan of the SPF roof by another decade or two.
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