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How Long Does An Asphalt Roof Last? 

home with asphalt roof

Asphalt shingles are the most commonly seen roofing material in the US today. And there’s a reason for that: they’re attractive, affordable and relatively uncomplicated to install. In other words, they get the job done without premium pricing. But how long does an asphalt roof last? Just like with other roofing materials, the answer depends on a variety of factors. In this post, we’ll answer that question and more, giving you everything you might need to know before you decide to install asphalt shingles on your roof. 

What are Asphalt Shingles? 

Asphalt shingles are rectangular and are most often uniform in shape and size. They’re made of several different layers, starting with a fiberglass base that provides a moisture-resistant foundation. The fiberglass is coated with asphalt for further water resistance. Then, granules made of a combination of crushed rock and ceramic are layered onto the asphalt. These granules can be made of different colors, making asphalt shingles a versatile roofing choice for many different types of homes (one of the reasons for its popularity). 

Asphalt shingles come in sheets or stacks, and require a wooden roofing structure on which to be anchored. An underlayment made of tar paper or felt paper will be laid on top of the wooden structure. This serves as a protective element. Then, the asphalt shingles will be arranged in rows on top of the underlayment and nailed into the roofing structure underneath. 

bird's eye view shot of a large and complicated asphalt roof

What are the Three Types of Asphalt Shingles? 

Below, we’ll discuss the answer to the question, how long does an asphalt roof last? But before we do, it’s important to understand that there are three different types of asphalt shingle, which vary in quality. To some degree, the type of shingle you choose will affect the lifespan of asphalt shingles. 


Three-tab shingles are the most basic offering when it comes to asphalt shingles. These shingles get their name from the three tabs on each strip of shingles. They’re the cheapest and most basic type of roofing material available, but they’re popular since they provide a clean, uniform look to a roof without an exorbitant price tag. 


Made of the same material as three-tab shingles, dimensional shingles (sometimes referred to as architectural shingles) provide a bit more visual interest than their cheaper counterparts. They’re laid in an attractive overlapping pattern that’s meant to resemble a cedar shake roof. They’re also marginally thicker than three-tab shingles. 


When it comes to asphalt shingles, luxury shingles are the top-of-the-line option. Designed to resemble a slate tile roof, luxury shingles are larger and thicker than regular asphalt shingles. This leads not only to better aesthetics, but a higher degree of durability and water resistance as well.  

What are the Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles? 

Before we answer the question, how long does an asphalt roof last, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of this popular type of roofing material. 


One of the biggest advantages of asphalt shingles is their cost effectiveness. Dollar for dollar, asphalt shingles are the least expensive type of roofing material. What’s more, they’re readily available, they come in a wide variety of colors (and shapes, if you decide to choose luxury shingles), they’re relatively easy to maintain, and it’s easy to find a roofer who’s qualified to install asphalt shingles. 


The asphalt shingle lifespan is relatively short in comparison to more durable roofing materials like slate, clay tile, concrete or even metal. These shingles tend to be more susceptible to damage from water, snow, high winds and hail. In fact, because they’re laid in sheets, and because those sheets are relatively lightweight, asphalt shingles are a particularly poor choice for places with high winds. In addition, you likely won’t reap any energy conservation from asphalt shingle roofs, while heavier materials tend to insulate well. 

Roofer working on a roof with a safety harness

How Long Do Asphalt Shingles Last? 

One of the biggest questions on every homeowner’s mind is, how often should a roof be replaced? It’s understandable, given the expense of the process. While asphalt shingles may not enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime lifespan of stronger materials like clay, concrete or slate, they can last quite a long time. With regular maintenance, and in the absence of unforeseen circumstances like extreme weather events, most three-tab shingles can last up to 25 years. Dimensional shingles enjoy a slightly longer lifespan of up to 30 years, and luxury shingles can last as long as 40 to 50 years. 

What Factors Can Reduce Asphalt Shingle Lifespan? 

Now that we’ve learned about the potential lifespan of asphalt shingles, let’s examine a few factors that can certainly shorten that lifespan. 

  • Storm damage. Extreme weather events, especially those with high wind speeds like those seen in hurricanes and tornadoes, can significantly reduce the asphalt shingle lifespan. If there’s good news in this, it’s that damage sustained in these storms can sometimes be isolated to small areas of the roof, which can be repaired. This can prevent you from having to replace your roof entirely. 
  • Failure to perform routine upkeep. Regular inspection and maintenance is a key part of extending the life of your roof, regardless of what type of roofing material you have. Asphalt shingles can benefit from regular cleaning with a hose, a soft brush with a telescoping handle and a gentle soap solution. And regular inspection can help identify problem areas before they become bigger issues. 
  • Poor quality installation or materials. In roofing, as with anything, you get what you pay for. Choosing a bargain-basement shingle brand, or hiring a sub-par contractor can significantly reduce the lifespan on your asphalt shingle roof. Not sure if you’ve found a quality contractor? Use this roof replacement cost calculator to get a ballpark price estimate for your exact roof. Quotes that come in too low could signal a potential red flag when it comes to the quality of the job. 

Fact Checked by Christin Perry 6/7/2024