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How Long Does a Roof Last?

Asphalt Roof with moss growing on it

Each year, homeowners are faced with a variety of home improvement or repair projects. It’s just part of owning a home. Many of these tasks are minor, like replacing an electrical outlet, recaulking a shower or staining a deck. But others, like replacing a roof, are large jobs that take lots of time… and money. 

With the average cost of replacing a roof hovering around $9,000, according to Bankrate, putting a new roof over your head is expensive. That’s one of the reasons it’s a good idea to know the answer to the question, how long does a roof last? 

The answer varies based on lots of different factors, like the climate where you live and what type of roof you have. To that end, it’s important to note that the lifespans listed here are just estimates. Choosing the right type of roof for your home’s environment, as well as routine care and maintenance can increase the chances of your roof lasting as long as the manufacturer states.

Close ups of shingle roofing, slate roofing, metal roofing, tile roofing, and wood shake roofing.

The vast majority of homes today have roofs made of the following materials: asphalt shingles, clay tiles, galvanized metal sheeting, slate tiles, or wood shakes. Each of these materials differs greatly in the aesthetic they lend, as well as how they should be cared for, and how long they last.

An Asphalt Roof up close

How Long Does an Asphalt Roof Last?

In general, any time you see a shingled roof, the shingles are made of asphalt. These shingles have a base mat with a layer of granules often made of a combination of rock and ceramic. Asphalt shingles are generally less expensive than other types of roofing materials, and can withstand a variety of climates. However, they may not be the best option for areas with high winds or extreme cold. 

There are three types of asphalt shingles: 3-tab, dimensional and luxury.

Three-Tab Shingles

These shingles are the most basic and economical type of asphalt shingle. They are called “three-tab” due to the cutouts—tabs—along their lower edge, which makes a single shingle look like three separate pieces when laid on the roof. In terms of durability, three-tab shingles generally offer a lifespan of 15 to 20 years under optimal weather conditions and with proper maintenance. They provide adequate protection against environmental elements but might not fare as well under severe weather conditions as other shingle types.

Dimensional Asphalt Shingles

Also known as architectural or laminated shingles, dimensional asphalt shingles are a step up from the basic three-tab shingles. Dimensional shingles tend to be heavier, more durable, and more resistant to wind uplift compared to three-tab shingles. They have a longer lifespan, typically between 25 to 30 years, and come with extended warranty periods reflecting their superior durability.

Luxury Asphalt Shingles

As the name suggests, luxury asphalt shingles also known as designer asphalt shingles are the top-tier option in the asphalt shingle category. They offer the highest level of durability and aesthetic appeal among asphalt shingles. Not only do they mimic high-end roofing materials like slate or cedar shakes, but they also provide maximum resistance against harsh weather conditions. These shingles boast an impressive lifespan, often exceeding 30 years, depending on the climate and maintenance level.

Clay barrel style roofing tiles

How Long Does a Clay Tile Roof Last?

If you’ve ever admired one of those Old-World roofs commonly seen in European countries, you’re probably a fan of clay tile roofing. Made by baking clay into individual tiles, clay roofs can withstand just about any temperature, from searing heat to freezing cold. 

Wondering how long does a roof last? With regular inspection and proper care and maintenance, a well-installed clay tile roof can last as long as 100 years. That means it’s unlikely you’ll need to replace your clay roof in your lifetime. Despite that obvious benefit, you’ll pay about four times more than an asphalt roof if you opt for clay.

Concrete Tile

Another type of tile roofing is concrete tiles. Concrete tile roofing is known for its versatility and strength. Available in flat, low-profile, and high-profile styles, these tiles can mimic the look of other materials like stone, slate, wood, and clay. Concrete tiles can be painted in various colors, complementing your home’s aesthetic. Made from water, sand, and cement, they provide a sturdy roofing solution with a long lifespan of 50 to 100 years.

A multi-color slate roof up close

How Long Does a Slate Roof Last?

Slate tiles are among the most highly sought-after types of roofing materials. If you’re looking to replace and wondering “How long does a roof last?” when looking at possible materials, know slate lasts very long when well maintained. Slate used for roofing is mined in Italy, and the tiles are installed individually. This makes installing slate tiles a slow and expensive endeavor. But, if you love the look and you have the budget for it, slate tile roofs can last 75 to more than 100 years under the right conditions and with proper upkeep and maintenance. 

Natural Slate

Natural slate stands out for its unique texture, color, and longevity. Known for its high resistance to environmental damage, it’s heavy and requires strong structural support. This roofing type has a lifespan of 100 to 200 years, justifying its higher upfront cost with minimal repair or replacement needs.

Hard Slate

Hard slate is a premium slate roofing material offering unmatched lifespan and durability. Withstanding the elements for 150 to 200 years, hard slate’s resilience makes it worth its higher cost. It’s a prime choice for long-term homeowners and those who appreciate its unique aesthetic.

Soft Slate

Soft slate offers a balance between cost-effectiveness and durability. Lasting 50 to 125 years, it’s a more affordable yet long-lasting slate option. Soft slate’s varied colors and textures offer homeowners a natural look that fits more budget ranges.

Synthetic Slate

Synthetic slate mimics natural slate’s look but is more lightweight and cost-effective. These tiles, made from rubber, plastic, or clay, typically have a longevity of 20 to 50 years. They are less expensive and easier to install and maintain, making them a practical choice for a broader range of homes.

A drill down metal roof with barrel style

How Long Does a Metal Roof Last?

With a recent rise in popularity thanks to the farmhouse craze, galvanized metal sheeting is a durable and reasonable roofing material that comes in a variety of colors. Metal roofing works well in cold climates since it can withstand harsh weather conditions, and snow tends to slide off easily. But it’s also ideal in hot climates, standing up to harsh, direct sunlight and keeping your home’s interior cooler. 

Standing Seam Metal

Standing seam metal roofs, characterized by mechanically seamed panels, have an advantage in thermal movement as they can expand and contract with temperature fluctuations. These roofs can endure for 30 years or more if properly installed and accompanied by suitable attic ventilation. Under optimal conditions, their lifespan might even extend beyond 65 years.

Screw Down Panel Metal

Screw down panel metal roofs, or exposed fastener roofs, are named for their mode of installation, with screws and washers fastening the panels in place. Without maintenance, a screw down metal roof should survive about 20 years, but with regular upkeep, you might stretch it to 40 years.

When considering the questions “How long does a roof last?” know that a properly installed metal roof can last between 40 and 70 years, and requires little to no routine maintenance.

Close up of wood shake roofing

How Long Does a Wood Shake Roof Last?

Wood shingles, especially those made of cedar, teak, or wallaba, provide a rustic and natural aesthetic to any home. When considering the questions “How long does a roof last?” wood shakes are a great contender for your replacement material. They are popular choices for cottages, Tudor style homes, and cabins for their warmth and charm. Beyond their beauty, wood shingles offer inherent protection against insects and rot, adding functionality to their appeal. They serve as an ideal choice for those desiring a roof that is as practical as it is visually captivating.

Cedar Shingles

Cedar shingle roofing, popular for its natural beauty and aging quality, offers unique protection against insects and rot. It requires annual inspection to ensure the roof’s integrity, but with proper care and maintenance, it can last for 30 to 50 years or more. Its aesthetic appeal combined with its functional longevity makes cedar a worthy investment, especially for cottage owners and wood cabin enthusiasts.

Wallaba Shingles

Wallaba wood shingles are an excellent choice for those seeking durability and a natural look. With their high density, they are resilient to weather conditions, insect attacks, and decay. If properly maintained, Wallaba shingles can easily survive the elements for 35 to 60 years, outlasting many traditional materials.

Teak Shingles

Teak shingle is another exceptional choice due to its longevity and beauty. Known for its high oil content, teak is water-resistant and incredibly durable, making it ideal for roofing applications. With proper maintenance, you can expect a teak shingle material to have a life of between 50 to 80 years, making it a long-term investment for homeowners.

A roofing contractor nailing down asphalt shingles

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Roof?

One of the biggest driving factors behind the question, how long does a roof last is undoubtedly the cost of replacing a roof. Most homeowners need to either budget for this job, or finance the work, or even a combination of both. 

When it comes to the roof replacement cost you might face, many factors will come into play. Here are some of the things that can affect your bottom line. 

  • The roofing material you choose
  • Removal of existing roofing material
  • The size of your home
  • The condition of the roof structure
  • Your home’s location 
  • Availability of chosen materials
  • Labor cost/size of team required to complete the job

Instant Roofer’s Roof Replacement Cost Calculator

Faced with replacing your roof? It’s always a good idea to collect a few estimates. This way, you’ll have a rough idea of how much the job will cost. Our handy roof replacement cost calculator is a great place to start. Use it to get a sense of the expense of replacing your roof before you reach out to professionals in your area. 

Fact checked by Christin Perry – 2/20/2024