The roof is one of the most vital parts of your house’s structure. Not only does it protect your interior from the weather and elements, but depending on its material and installation, it can also enhance the appearance of your house and create a visually appealing, harmonious design.
It helps to know which materials last the longest and how well your current roof will do if you’ve just recently moved into a home or are planning to renovate.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the different materials used in roofs and their expected lifespan and provide you with a few tips to increase them. For further details, feel free to contact us at Preferred Roofing for a free consultation and estimate.
What Factors Influence My Roof’s Lifespan?
Your roof is the first line of defense against the elements. It’s best to know what factors influence its lifespan to make an informed decision when moving into a new home or replacing your roof. They are:
- Climate: Local weather can significantly impact your roof’s lifespan. Specific roofing materials suit certain climates better. For example, asphalt shingles, the most common roof material in the U.S., may last longer in colder climates than in warmer ones. Similarly, wood shingles and shakes suit dry climates better than humid ones.
- Roofing Material: There are many materials to choose from. Some are more durable than others. Asphalt shingles can last from 15 to 30 years, while clay and concrete tiles can last up to 100 years or more. However, different materials have different resistances, so it’s best to get something suitable for your climate.
- Roofing Material Quality: Materials will vary significantly in quality and price. This is the case for asphalt shingles, which come in many styles and installation methods and differ greatly in price depending on the brand. High-quality materials will also usually last longer than low-quality ones.
- Installation Technique: Professionals ensure proper roof installation and sealing, preventing leaks and other factors from damaging it, thus increasing its lifespan. Inexperienced individuals may improperly install roofs during a DIY project, risking long-term issues.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance can significantly extend your roof’s lifespan. This includes cleaning, resealing, and repairing when necessary.
- External Factors: There are other factors to consider when choosing a roofing material. For example, trees can drop debris that can damage shingles or cause mold or rot. Similarly, nearby structures can influence wind load, solar exposure, and fire risk for your roof.
Some other factors that influence your roof’s lifespan include your roof ventilation system and its shape.
Common Roofing Materials and Their Lifespan
Asphalt is generally less expensive than other materials. It’s highly resistant to wind, impact, and rain, but a heavy hailstorm can damage it. As for fire resistance, it depends on its class (Class A is the most resistant). However, when considering asphalt, it’s best to look for a brand that provides high-quality asphalt to ensure longevity and better protection.
Asphalt can last from 15 to 30 years.
Wood Shingles and Shakes
Wood shingles and shakes come in many types, each with different resistances, aesthetics, and costs. It’s resistant to impact and wind but susceptible to rot, fire, and pest damage. Also, wood may not be a suitable roofing material for humid climates.
Some types of wood last longer than others, but its average lifespan is 20 to 50 years.
Clay tiles are among the most durable and resistant roofing materials. They can resist extreme weather conditions, fire, mold, rot, and mildew. They’re also impervious to fire and are not prone to discoloration or fading caused by sunlight. However, depending on the clay’s quality, a strong impact can crack or shatter them.
Since they require minimal maintenance as long as you properly install them, they can last up to 100 years or more.
Ceramic tiles are a viable alternative to clay tiles. They can also resist fire, rot, insects, and harsh weather conditions. However, hail, wind, or debris can crack them.
They can last from 50 to 100 years or more with proper maintenance and installation. Note that tile quality also plays a role in longevity!
Slate is a high-end roofing material. There’s little to worry about if you cover your roof with natural slate rocks, as they’re impervious to the most extreme weather conditions and can last for multiple generations.
Note that there are hard and soft slates, with the former being more durable and expensive. With proper installation and sealing, expect a lifespan of 100 years or more.
Metal shingles and sheets are designed to be lightweight and highly resistant to harsh weather conditions. They’re also impervious to fire and pests, making them a viable option for areas prone to wildfires.
Since they require minimal maintenance after proper installation, they can last 35 to 80 years.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofs are a type of single-ply membrane (a single layer of roofing material) roofing system. PVC is a durable and flexible plastic material resistant to fire, weather conditions, chemicals, punctures, and UV rays. It’s also energy-efficient.
PVC comes in many qualities, so its lifespan depends on your brand, installation, and maintenance. It can last from 20 to 30 years.
Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) rubber is a type of synthetic rubber roofing membrane. Derived from oil and natural gas, it comes in two colors (black or white) and in different widths, thicknesses, and lengths. It can also be installed in various ways.
EPDM rubber is used in roofs due to its water resistance, flexibility, energy efficiency, and durability. It can withstand high temperatures, fire, punctures, and harsh weather conditions.
With proper maintenance, it can last about 50 years.
What Are Some Common Roof Deterioration Signs?
It’s crucial to notice issues with your roof early and fix them as soon as possible to prevent serious problems later. Below, we’ll present some common signs that your roof needs fixing or replacement.
Visible Damage and Leaks
The most obvious signs that you need to repair your roof are visible damage and leaks. If you notice your ceiling or walls bubbling or see water stains, that’s a sign that a part of your roof is damaged and is letting water in.
A household’s interior temperature fluctuating from one room to another is also a sign. This is particularly problematic, as it could ramp up energy costs and overwork your HVAC system.
Damage can also be insidious. For example, if you notice mold or rot and the air in your attic or higher-floor rooms feels moist and smells funny, that’s a sign that water has collected somewhere and is damaging your structure. Rot can be dangerous because it threatens your entire roof structure.
Insects can also be a pressing issue, so pay attention to the damage they can cause (holes, nests, etc.)
Curling, Blistering, or Missing Granules
This sign depends on your roof type and is most common on shingles. You probably need to replace your shingles if you notice that they’re misshapen, blistering, or missing granules (the exterior coating).
Sometimes, it’s hard for individuals to notice these kinds of problems. You can always consult a professional if you have doubts.
Age-related Wear and Tear
Some materials wear differently due to age. Here are a few issues you should pay attention to:
- Discoloration: You don’t necessarily need to replace a discolored roof, but it’s a sign that its lifespan may have been reduced. Moss and algae growth can also cause discoloration, so consider an inspection if that’s the case.
- Clogged Rain Gutters: If your rain gutters are filled with non-environmental debris or granules from the roof material, that’s a sign your roof may be structurally damaged. Clogged rain gutters can also cause water to back up and damage the roof edge and fascia.
- Wear Around Fixtures: A replacement may be due if you notice wear around your chimney or other fixtures. This is a sign that the flashing or sealing around them is damaged or missing, which can cause water to leak into the roof.
- Unsecured Fixtures: Your drainage and downspouts should be stable. If they’re wobbly, that’s a sign your roof has deteriorated. These can also lead to water damage.
- Sagging Roof Line: It’s a good idea to get an inspection as soon as possible if your roof line looks like it’s about to collapse. This is a sign of excessive weight, water damage, or insect infestation.
Note that different materials, depending on their quality, can change differently with age.
When Should I Replace My Roof?
Roofs can be expensive to replace, so you need a professional assessment, proper budgeting, and time before making such a decision.
You should consider replacing your roof if it’s damaged beyond repair (visible damage in your interior and exterior) or if you believe it has exceeded its lifespan.
However, we recommend contacting a professional like Preferred Roofing for a precise assessment.
How Can I Increase My Roof’s Lifespan?
Your roof’s lifespan is flexible and highly depends on how well you take care of it. In this context, there are several things you can do to increase it.
Your roof’s installation can make or break its performance, which is why we always recommend leaving installations to experts. By hiring a professional contractor, you’re ensuring quality workmanship, prompt service, and error-free results that can withstand the test of time.
This isn’t to say that DIY projects are a no-go. They’re a great way to save on labor costs if you have the experience and practical know-how. But, as it stands, the best way to ensure your roof’s longevity from the get-go is by having a professional install it.
Regular inspections will help keep you up-to-date with your roof’s state. While you can observe some obvious issues, such as water damage and mold, experts have the skills and insight to point out concerns like missing sealant, roof blistering, or curling.
You need to maintain most roofing materials regularly to ensure their longevity, as few materials can stand the test of time with minor maintenance (metal and natural rock, for example).
The best place to start is by regularly cleaning debris from your gutters, downspouts, and the roof itself. Consider cleaning it periodically with detergent and water to remove dirt and pollutants, and also drain the ponding water regularly to ensure it doesn’t leak inside and cause mold growth.
Ensure you repair or replace any missing tiles or shingles, reseal them when necessary, and apply a protective coating to increase durability. By the way, you can always hire a professional to do this for you.
Choosing the best roofing material to ensure comfortable household living conditions and a structurally stable, high-performing roof is important. There are countless materials to choose from, each varying in resistance, lifespan, and price point.
Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material in the U.S., and they can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance. If you can afford it, natural rock is low-maintenance and lasts for generations. Materials such as wood are highly climate-dependent and may perform worse depending on your location.
At Preferred Roofing, we value integrity and have the experience in the field to provide you with all the guidance and roofing services you need. Contact us today for a free estimate!