We have homeowners asking us all the time, “How often should I replace my roof?” The short answer, “it depends.” As much as we’d like to think our roof will last forever, that’s just not the case in most instances. And many factors dictate when it’s time to stop repairing your roof and go for a total roof replacement. This guide will help you determine when to replace your roof and how to go about maintaining your new roof in the future.
How Long Should a Roof Last?
A roof’s material is definitely the main factor that can determine how long a roof may last. And not every roof material is built the same, with some having a life expectancy of just 15 years and others lasting virtually 100 years or more.
Asphalt Shingles — 15 to 30 Years
The most commonly used type of roofing shingle in America is asphalt shingles. These 3-tab shingles are affordable, easy to install and last for about as long as a mortgage. Homeowners will find themselves replacing their roof at least once in the time they own their home.
BUR — 15 to 30+ Years
BUR, or built-up roofing, is used in commercial roofing and protects commercial flat roofs for 15 to 30 years, depending on climate, maintenance, and how well it was installed. They are relatively easy to replace, and so the short lifespan isn’t too much of an issue for many building owners.
Cedar Wood Shakes — 20 to 30 Years
Cedarwood shakes are expensive but a beautiful option for those looking for unique, aesthetically pleasing shingles on their roof. Wood is treated to resist insects, pests, and cedar, in particular, will age gracefully throughout its 20-30 year lifespan into a gray-colored wood.
Green Roof — 40 Years
Green roofs are another type of flat roof, more commonly used on commercial structures, that can last much longer for around 40 years. Green roofs create a self-sustaining ecosystem that improves insulation, increases water absorption and rainwater collection, and makes a home for local wildlife. Plus, residential buildings or large homes with green roofs can transform a gardening or lounge space within their green roof for a multi-functional space that will last for years to come.
Concrete Tiles — 50+ Years
Concrete tiles are incredibly durable and are resistant to fire, insects, and severe weather. Their sturdy nature can withstand wind speeds of more than 100 mph and still last for 50 or more years. They are much more expensive and difficult to install due to their weight, but the longevity makes it worth it.
Clay Tiles — 50 to 100 Years
A close cousin to concrete tiles is clay tiles. You may recognize clay tiles as the gorgeous terracotta style of southwestern states like Arizona and New Mexico. This is due to its durability in those dry climates, and they fit the area’s aesthetic. Plus, they are incredibly low maintenance and help keep the hot sun rays from penetrating the roof, which helps keep the houses cool in the sweltering summer months.
Metal Shingles — 70 years
Metal shingles are a beautiful option for those looking for a big ROI while maintaining the aesthetic of their home. Metal shingles can be manufactured to imitate just about any other type of shingle, but with that added durability of a much stronger material.
Slate Tiles — 100+ Years (wow!)
Often called the “forever roof,” slate tiles are one of the oldest used roofing materials because they last virtually forever. The look of slate tiles doesn’t always work for more modern-style homes, but if you’re renovating and preserving an older home (like the Victorian era, for example), it can work wonders for ensuring the structure lasts for many more years.
Other Factors That Affect a Roof’s Lifespan.
It’s important to keep in mind that the life expectancy is an estimate for how long it’s intended to last. However, poor maintenance, installation, and severe weather can wreak havoc on a roof, lessening its lifespan and thus wearing it out much faster.
It’s very rare to find yourself a roofing material that requires zero maintenance. Roofs like clay tiles, slate, and metal are low-maintenance, but others require a bit more TLC to uphold their condition and help them reach their lifespan. Asphalt shingles, for example, require regular inspections and cleaning to ensure they are in good shape. Wood shingles or shakes might even require cleaning and to be re-stained eventually, depending on the type of wood you are using.
Most shingle roofs also need to work in tandem with a good gutter system. If a homeowner fails to maintain the gutters, downspouts, and roof elements, they risk leaks, ice dams, and other catastrophic damage to their home that would require a roof replacement far earlier than anticipated. Always make sure you are aware of any required or recommended maintenance that can save you the pain of poor roof performance down the road.
If a roof is installed poorly right out of the gate, your roof and home are already at risk of damage and needing a replacement far before your roof’s intended lifespan. This is why choosing a reputable roofing contractor that also carries a workmanship warranty for your roof is essential to ensure it lasts for years and decades to come. Without a warranty or a trustworthy contractor, you may find yourself paying out of pocket for your poorly installed roof in the not-so-distant future.
Storm damage, of course, can cause your roof to fail far before it was expected. But this doesn’t mean it is one catastrophic event: multiple storms and strong winds over time can cause minor damages that eventually wear away at your roof so much, it must be replaced. It’s important to keep in mind that you should get your roof inspected for damage after any large storm, especially with hail and strong winds.
The longer small damage sits unfixed, the more likely it is that your roof is leaking and causing water damage in your attic or even the interior walls of your home. Staying on top of that maintenance and repairs can save you a ton of time and money replacing your roof sooner than you thought.
How Do You Know if Your Roof Needs Replacing?
Now that you know how long a roof should last and can consider outside factors that can lessen that time, now you should know the signs that it’s time to replace your roof.
You See Signs of Water Damage
If you notice spots on your attic floor or upper floor ceilings, those are signs that your roof is leaking and water has infiltrated your home. This could have been immediate from a big leak or has been leaking over time to lead to more extensive damage. Sometimes these can warrant repairs, but for extensive spots in multiple areas of your home, it’s likely time to replace your roof.
Extensive Roof Damage
If a storm came through, causing widespread damage, it could warrant a total roof replacement. This is especially true if your roof is already old and warranties are expired (or about to expire). It can be far more worthwhile to you to replace the whole thing. But a contractor who can inspect your roof can tell you for certain.
Your Roof is Far Past its Life Expectancy
Your aging roof loses much of its ability to protect your home against the elements as it passes its expected lifespan date. Roofs can become less efficient, warranties expire, and decades of rain, hail and wind can cause granule loss to the point of some shingles barely protecting against weather any longer. At this point, repairs will only buy you time, and replacing the entire roof would be your best bet to prevent a leaky roof and further damage.
If you’re uncertain about whether it’s time to replace your roof, give us a call, and we can schedule an inspection to determine the state of your roof and make a plan of action to repair or replace your roof. Contact us to get started!