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How Often Should a Roof Be Replaced?

slate roof being replaced

A roof is your home’s first line of defense against the elements. It’s a crucial aspect of your home, and one you want to ensure is in top working order at all times. Regular maintenance can be a helpful way to extend the life of your roof. And while it’s true that roofs last a long time, at some point you might face having to replace your roof due to wear and tear. 

But how often should a roof be replaced? The answer depends on lots of factors, like what type of roof you have, and whether it has sustained any major damage like severe weather or extreme heat. In this article, we’ll take a look at the typical lifespan of many different types of roofing materials, along with things that can affect the lifespan of your roof. 

The Lifespan Of Your Roof

The lifespan of your roof is highly dependent on what type of roof you have. Asphalt shingles have the shortest lifespan of any type of roofing material, while tile and concrete roofs tend to have the longest lifespan. 

Despite this, there are many other factors that can affect the lifespan of your roof. 

  • Ventilation. Adequate ventilation is crucial to extending the life of your roof. Without ventilation, hot air in the summer can cause shingle adhesive to loosen, which can potentially allow moisture into the cracks in your roof. Cold weather can cause the warm air of your home’s interior to rise to the attic. This can cause condensation, which can lead to mold buildup.
  • Weather damage. Each type of roof is uniquely susceptible to weather conditions. High winds can loosen shingles, while large hail can damage just about any type of roof. 
  • Craftsmanship. It’s tempting to want to pay the lowest price possible when it comes to having a new roof put on your home. But shoddy craftsmanship can potentially shorten the lifespan of your roof.
  • Climate. Extreme conditions like excessive heat and heavy snow can also be damaging to a roof.
  • Maintenance. Different roofing materials require different maintenance, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the maintenance schedule for the type of roof you have. This can help your roof last as long as the manufacturer indicates. 
asphalt roof tore off being prepared for roof replacement

Which Roofing Material Should Last The Longest?

Slate tile is the roofing material that should last the longest. According to Forbes, slate tile roofing can last as long as 200 years. This is the lifespan for hard slate, while softer slate can easily last 50 to 100 years. 

Slate is a metamorphic rock which is cut into individual tiles for roofing. Durable and weather-resistant, slate makes for a gorgeous roof, as each tile is unique in size, shape and color. New England-style homes traditionally have beautiful cedar shake roofs. This beauty and durability reflects in the price tag, though, with slate roofs being about four times more expensive than other roofing materials. 

When should you replace your asphalt shingle roof?

Before we answer that, exactly what is an asphalt roof? Asphalt shingles are made of a base mat with rock granules that adhere to the mat. There are three types of shingled roofs: 3-tab, dimensional and luxury. Three-tab shingles are the least expensive, and the most commonly used. They provide a flat, even look without any layers. Dimensional shingles add the illusion of depth, as they are laid in a pattern with slight color variations. Luxury shingles, the most expensive type, are meant to resemble slate tile roofs. 

How often should a roof be replaced if it’s made of asphalt shingles? Three tab shingles should be replaced about every 25 years, dimensional shingles about every 30 years, and luxury asphalt shingles should be replaced anywhere from 30-50 years.  

When should you replace a metal roof?

Metal roofing has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years, thanks to the modern farmhouse aesthetic. Most metal roofing is installed in sheets, and is an attractive option for its middle-of-the-road pricing and excellent durability. 

There are several types of metal roofs. Aluminum is resistant to rust and corrosion, making it a great choice for coastal or moist environments. Copper is durable and ages beautifully, zinc is cost effective, with superior longevity among metal roofing materials, and steel is long-lasting as long as it’s covered with corrosion-resistant paint and inspected regularly. 

So how often should a roof be replaced if it’s made with metal materials? If your roof is aluminum, you should expect to replace it around 40-60 years. Copper and zinc roofs both can be replace after 50-100 years, mostly dependent on upkeep and maintenance. And steel roofing can plan to be replaced every 30 to 50 years.

When should you replace a composite roof?

Composite shingles are a synthetic alternative to asphalt shingles. Often made of a combination of synthetic polymers, laminate and wood, composite shingles are more expensive to install but enjoy a longer lifespan than asphalt shingles. Replace your composite shingles between 30 and 50 years when maintained well.

When should you replace a clay tile roof?

Beautiful clay tiles can be found all over the European countryside. And for good reason! This roofing material is both attractive and durable. Clay tiles can handle both extreme cold and intense heat, but can be subject to cracking in large hail or other severe weather conditions. How often should a roof be replaced when it’s made with clay tiles? Your tile roof should be replaced in 50 to 100 years with typical use and exposure. 

When should you replace a thatched roof?

Thatched roofs, those made of dried grasses like reeds or palms, are quite uncommon today. Thatched roof homes might make you think of an old estate in the English countryside, rather than a row of newer homes on a residential subdivision. But aside from its unique beauty, a thatched roof does bring some advantages, including a lifespan of about 40 years, much longer than a shingled roof. 

When should you replace a flat roof?

Most flat roofs are covered with a material called membrane. This roofing material is made of various rubber or plastic materials that are intended to stretch over a flat roof and reflect the sun’s rays, keeping excess heat away from the home. Common types of membrane roofing are TPO, PVC or EPDM. Replace these materials every 25 to 30 years when used on a roof. 

Concrete is another popular medium to use on a flat roof (which, keep in mind, still does have a certain degree of pitch). A concrete roof can last longer than a membrane roof though by up to 50 years!

When should you replace a cedar shake roof?

A traditional, New England-style cedar shake roof looks beautiful, but requires more maintenance than other types of roofing material. How often should a roof be replaced if it’s made of quality cedar shake? Replacing a cedar shake roof should happen every 30 years or so with regular maintenance that includes cleaning and debris removal. Despite that, more conservative estimates for the lifespan of a cedar roof are closer to 15 to 20 years. 

When should you replace solar panels?

Choosing to add solar panels to your home will allow you to harness the suns rays to create energy for your home. Most any type of roof can support them as well. The average lifespan of solar panels is about 25 to 30 years. While they need little routine maintenance, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your home’s solar panels, and remove any debris or animal droppings that accumulate on the panels. 

Time to replace your roof?

Our roof replacement cost calculator can give you an accurate estimate of the expense you’ll face when it comes time to replace your roof. Using AI-powered technology uses your exact roof to determine the approximate replacement cost per square foot. Armed with this knowledge, you can start obtaining price quotes from qualified roofing professionals in your area. 

three harnessed roof workers laying material

5 Signs that Indicate the Need for a Roof Replacement

Armed with the knowledge of how often should a roof be replaced, it’s also wise to know some of the red-flag signs that indicate it could be time to take the plunge and find a roofer

Age of the Roof

As your roof approaches the end of the manufacturer’s recommended lifespan, you may want to start setting money aside to help pay for a new roof. After all, stretching your roof far beyond its natural expiration point can increase the potential for damage to your roofing structure and even your home’s interior. To recap, here’s a brief summary of the lifespan of different types of roofs. 

Type of RoofAverage Lifespan
3-tab Asphalt shingles25 years
Dimensional asphalt shingles30 years
Luxury asphalt shingles30 to 50 years
Aluminum 40 to 60 years
Copper50 to 100 years
Zinc50 to 100 years
Steel30 to 50 years
Composite shingles30 to 50 years
Clay tile50 to 100 years
Thatched 40 years
TPO, PVC, EPDM25 to 30 years
Concrete50 years
Cedar shake15 to 30 years
Lifespan To Common Roof Materials
large leak and water damage in ceiling

Water Leaks or Damage

As a major part of your home’s exterior surface area, your roof is designed to come into contact with water. But many of the different parts of a roof are designed specifically to allow water to quickly drain off your roof. And there’s a reason for that: standing water is your roof’s biggest enemy. Water can seep into your roofing structure when the outer layer of your roof becomes old, worn or damaged. And that can cause leaks or damage to the interior of your home. 

Regular inspection of your roof can be helpful in identifying potential issues, like damaged flashing, missing, cracked or broken shingles or a detached gutter. But you should also take a look at the attic and the ceilings of the highest level of your home to ensure you don’t see any evidence of water damage. If you notice signs of water damage to your roof or the inside of your home, the situation should be remedied right away. 

Roof Mold or Mildew

sagging asphalt roof covered in moss

Sagging Roof Sections

While a small amount of mold or mildew (or even moss!) on your roof isn’t harmful, it can be indicative of a water issue. After all, these grow in moist environments. Roof maintenance might include simply brushing moss off your roof, or power washing moldy spots on an aging roof. But if you notice one of these signs it’s time to replace your roof, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect for possible water damage. 

A sagging roof is never good news. It can be a serious issue that requires prompt remediation, often caused by damage, a lack of structural integrity, excessive water damage, or low-quality roofing materials. 

If you notice your roof sagging, call a professional right away. There’s a good chance your home might face additional issues if you wait, and a sagging roof isn’t a DIY job. 

High Energy Bills

If you notice a spike in your home’s energy bills, it might be time to take a look at the roof. While most people turn to windows and doors as likely culprits, a damaged or worn roof can allow drafts to enter your home, causing you to pay more to heat it.

What to Do When Your Roof Needs Replacement

Being a homeowner means facing big problems head on. If a roofing inspector has indicated your roof is nearing the end of its useful life, the first thing you’ll want to do is determine how much you might need to pay to have it replaced. Our comprehensive roof replacement costs  guide is a great place to start. 

Fact checked by Christin Perry – 3/1/2024