How Long Does a Roof Last?

When considering buying a house, you want to know how long the roof will last. After all, you don’t want the building to start falling down just months after you move in. The cost of replacing the roof can exceed $100,000, so it’s a major consideration. 

In this post, we take a look at how long your roof is likely to last. As you’ll discover, survival times vary considerably based on material type, maintenance and, in some cases, weather conditions. 

Factors that Affect How Long Your Roof Lasts

Before we discuss the longevity of specific roof types, it’s worth briefly talking about the specific factors that affect the life of a roof. These are mainly common sense and include: 

  • The quality of the craftsmanship that went into the roof (shoddy workmanship will lead to a shorter life). If getting solar panels installed, always choose a reputable solar contractor to avoid unnecessary damage
  • The quality of the materials (within each material type, there is significant variation)
  • The environmental conditions (particularly if you live in a wet, windy or cold location prone to freeze-thaw weathering)

How Long Do Various Roof Types Last? 

Most architects design roofs to last for around 30 years. However, how long they actually survive depends heavily on the materials. 

Clay Tile Roofs

Clay tile roofs, common on Mediterranean-style properties, last an exceptionally long time – anywhere from 50 to 100 years. However, they can be expensive to install and require regular cleaning. Furthermore, they don’t last long in colder climates (which is one of the reasons you rarely see them in the north). Repeated freezing and thawing eventually cracks tiles, causing them to lose their integrity. 

Slate Tile Roofs

Slate tile roofs, common among New England homes, are perhaps the longest-lived of any roofing type. These tend to last anywhere between 75 and 200 years, thanks to the tiles’ unique ability to resist moisture and weathering. 

Slate, however, is a premium material, meaning that you will pay considerably more for roofs of this type. Furthermore, it is also extremely heavy. 100 square feet of slate weighs over 1,000 pounds, meaning that you will need to first check if your home can support it. 

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are an affordable home roofing option usually designed to last for around 30 years. However, to achieve maximum longevity, you will need to re-treat them every five years or so with stains. You’ll also need to arrange yearly cleanings to prevent any plants from taking hold. 

The most durable wood shingles are made of cedar. This type of wood has natural antimicrobial properties and can withstand high winds. 

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is an increasingly trendy option, allowing homeowners to give their buildings a unique style. Most metal roofs last around 40 to 70 years. Seams along roof panels can withstand winds of up to 100 mph, though they may struggle beyond this without reinforcement. 

Asphalt Shingles

Lastly, you might consider asphalt shingles, the most affordable roofing materials. Typically, these will last 15 to 20 years, though there are longer-lived “dimensional shingles” that may serve you for 20 to 30 years.