How Long Does a Roof Last?

Homeowner Learning

Author: Amy Freeman | May 12, 2023 

Nothing lasts forever, including the roof on your home. But exactly how long does a roof last? Depending on the materials it's made out of, the maintenance and care you provide, and the weather conditions in your area, your roof can have a pretty long life. Estimating your roof's age can help you determine when the best time would be to replace it.

The exterior of a home.
The life span of a roof depends on its materials and how well you care for it.

Materials Matter

Your roof's materials have a direct effect on its life span. Asphalt shingles are among the most popular type of roofing material and typically last for around 20 years.

While 20 years isn't anything to sneeze at, it's actually pretty short compared to the life spans of other roofing materials. U.S. News and World Report noted that copper or tile roofs could last for 50 years. A slate roof can retain its integrity for more than a century.

How Long Does a Roof Last with Care and Maintenance?

How well you care for your roof also affects its longevity, as do the weather conditions in your region. If you live in an area that sees many hurricanes or windstorms, your roof might not last as long as one that's located in a calmer part of the world. Lots of rain and snow can also shorten a roof's life.

Maintenance is important whether you live in an area with balmy weather or one with a lot of storms. Issues such as moss growth, missing shingles or fallen leaves and tree branches can all weaken and rot surface materials such as asphalt. Scheduling regular roof cleanings and other maintenance tasks can help extend your roof's life span.

How Does Installation Play a Part?

If you've ever struggled to put together a piece of furniture from a kit only to have it collapse a few days later, then you can understand how the process of installing your roof can affect its longevity. Certain types of roofing systems, such as slate and tile, should only be installed by roofing contractors with experience with those systems and materials.

Another part of properly installing a roof is making sure that there's enough ventilation from the attic, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association. Without appropriate ventilation, there's a risk of condensation and moisture buildup leading to leaks and mildew.

Determining the Age of Your Roof

Unless you oversaw the installation of the roof yourself and have kept excellent records, it can be difficult to tell how old the roof on your house is. The people who owned the home before you might not be sure of the roof's age, either.

If you're not sure how old your roof is, you can hire a home inspector or roofing contractor to take a look and give you a general idea. While they won't be able to tell you the exact date the roof was finished (unless they happen to be the contractor who installed it), they can give you an estimate that you can use to figure out whether it's time to consider replacing your roof.

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