How Long Does a Roof Last? Top Things You Must Know

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If you are someone who is often working on home fixtures or if you just bought a new home, you should know that not all of the fixtures and parts of that house will last forever.

Yes, this includes the roof as the roof over your entire home does have a limited lifespan. Knowing how long your roof will last will allow you to prepare for the worst especially when it has already reached the end of its usual lifespan.

But how long does a roof last?

Key Takeaways
  • Architectural, asphalt, and wood shingles can last for up to 30 years while clay roof tiles can last for 50 years. But the more durable roofs such as metal and slate can last for more than 70 years and sometimes even an entire lifetime.
  • The lifespan of a roof is determined by the material used. 

There is a limit to how long your roof will last and, of course, it is ideally better to have a roof that will last for as long as possible.

There are some instances where you just don’t have a choice when it comes to the type of roof you have such as when it came with the house you bought or that building codes in your area require a certain roof or maybe because a certain type of roof material is needed for the climate of your region.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

You may have bought a newly built house or one that has been around for a decade or so already. When you had an inspector check the roof, he found out that there wasn’t really anything wrong with it.

Regardless of whether the house is new or has been around for more than a decade without anything seriously wrong with its roof, it still is important for you to know how long the roof will last especially when you are planning on living in that home on a long-term basis.

The main factor when it comes to how long a roof will last will always be the materials used for the roof. In some cases, other factors such as weather conditions, quality of the workmanship, and maintenance will also come into play but it is usually the material of the roof that determines how long it will last.

If you want to know how long your roof will last depending on the materials used on it, here are some of the more common roof materials and their lifespan:

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are widely considered the most common types of roofs used in houses as they are quite affordable. On top of that, asphalt shingles are great at providing the necessary protection needed by a home such as UV protection and defense against the sun’s rays as well as strong winds.

Asphalt shingles can last somewhere between 15 to 30 years depending on the workmanship and on the other conditions that can affect the lifespan of a roof such as weather and maintenance.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles
Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are more expensive types of asphalt shingles but are considered to be made with denser and thicker materials. That’s why they are also a lot more expensive compared to asphalt shingles.

This roof type can last for up 30 years as it is a more premium version of asphalt shingles.

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles
Wood Shingles

Wood shingles that are made of cedar are actually quite durable and are some of the most aesthetically pleasing materials you can have for your roof. Most cottage-style homes use wood shingles.

The problem with wood shingles is that they are natural and organic materials that can easily warp, and that is why they need regular maintenance.

Wood shingles can last for up to 30 years as well.


Clay tiles
Clay Tiles

A roof made from clay tiles works great in terracotta-styled homes that are quite common in the southwest regions of the US particularly because of how they fit the climate there. While quite expensive, a clay roof is very durable and requires minimal upkeep.

Expect this type of roof to last for up to 50 years considering how durable it is.


Slate Shingles

One of the most durable or even the most durable materials that can be used for a roof is slate, which is one of the most expensive materials you can buy for your roof.

Slate is also one of the hardiest roof materials out there as it can dish out hurricanes and tornadoes without suffering a lot of damage. But the problem is that the slate is quite heavy and needs a house that can handle its weight.

Slate is so durable that it can last for an entire lifetime and may even end up with several generations of different owners without getting replaced.

How Do I Know If My Roof Needs Replacing?

While some types of materials used for constructing roofs can easily last for several decades, you have to understand that some conditions and factors can deteriorate the lifespan of a roof. That’s why, in a lot of cases, you have to make sure that you keep an eye on your roof even though it still is far off from reaching the limits of its lifespan.

As such, here are some signs that you need to look out for to know whether or not your roof needs to be replaced:

Water Damage

Even the smallest sign of water damage should already be enough for you to change your roof as water can easily seep into the entire structure from a very small part that has been damaged by water. 

Mold Growth

When mold begins to grow outside the roof, that could damage the tiles and even force them apart. This will allow room for water to possibly enter the roof and cause leaks in your home. 


Of course, the moment light begins to pass through your roof, that means that there are gaps and holes that need to be checked. The damage might be simple enough for a small repair job but there are some instances that it might be too extreme to the point that you possibly need to replace the entire roof.

Loose Tiles

While some roofs might seem to have kept their structural integrity from the outside, try stepping on the tiles to see if they are loose. When some tiles are loose, this could open up to possible damages that can easily become problematic in the long run. That’s why you might want to consider replacing the entire roof when that happens.

Debris Found in the Gutters

Try inspecting the gutters of your home from time to time because there will be moments where you will find debris. If it has become far too often, that could mean that the roof might have already been damaged and that pieces of the shingles are steadily getting chipped off.

Leaks in the Attic

For one reason or another, if the attic starts leaking even when there are no visible damages and problems in your roof, you may need to have your roof checked. A simple repair job might do the trick but there will be instances where you would have to get the entire roof changed.

How Long Does A Metal Roof Last?

One of the more durable types of roofs that you can use for your house is metal. Depending on the type of metal used, metal roofs can cost from around a bit over a hundred dollars per square especially if you are looking to use affordable aluminum roofs but steel roofs can cost about $900 per square.

Of course, the cheaper the metal is, the more likely that it will be thinner and not as durable as some of the more expensive and denser metal roofs. As such, cheaper metal roofs can last somewhere between 20 and 25 years depending on the quality.

On the other hand, the more expensive steel roofs that are on the higher end of the price spectrum are the more popular choices in northern areas with a ton of snow because of how they can easily allow snow to slide off. These expensive roof materials can last for up to 70 years depending on the quality of the metal used.

How Long Does A 30-year Roof Really Last?

While some of the more common roofs such as asphalt, architectural, and wood shingles can last for up to 30 years, does it really mean that they will actually last that long?

Well, not exactly because the 30-year lifespan is based only on optimism. As such, these 30-year roof materials are expected to only last for 30 years if the conditions are at their optimal levels.

That simply means that, if you take care of these roof materials well enough by having them maintained regularly or if there are no adverse conditions such as hurricanes that can affect the lifespan of your roof, then it would follow that there is a good chance that your 30-year roof can actually last for up to 30 years.

On the safe side, it is better to expect that they wouldn’t last for that long considering that it can be quite rare for the conditions to be perfect enough for a roof to actually reach its maximum lifespan.