Roofing material manufacturers predict the estimated lifespan of their products based upon very specific factors they define in their warranties. These warranties often require some actions on the part of the homeowner (regular maintenance, yearly inspections, etc) but are normally warrantied for their projected lifespan, as long as the homeowner abides by them.
Going by these projections we can compile a list of the 7 most used materials and rate them according to durability and lifespan. If you’re in the market for a new roof, talk to your roof contractor and see which of these is best for you and your home!
The 7 Most Common Roof Materials Ranked By Durability & Longevity
7. Asphalt Roll Roof
- Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
- What It Is: Asphalt roll roofing is “the cheap stuff”: it is better suited as a weekend DIY roofing project for your wood shed. Do not consider using it for your home if you can help it.
- Making It Last: There is little you can do to prolong asphalt roll’s lifespan. Make sure that it is clear of debris and inspect it as regularly as possible to squeeze what you can out of it.
6. Composite Shingle Roof
- Lifespan: 15 years or so (premium up to 50)
- What It Is: The most common roofing material in America. Inexpensive but lasts longer than asphalt roll roofs. Why such a large spread in lifespan? Even though they may wear our in as little as 15 years or last to 18-20 or more, the fact of the matter is, labor is lower because they are easy to install. These types of shingles aren’t all low-end materials, however, as advances in technology have allowed manufactures like GAF and Certainteed to offer premium composite shingles that can last up to 50 years when maintained properly! If you choose this material, don’t be cheap, get the higher end stuff for a longer lasting roof.
- Making It Last: Watch out for cheap composite shingles that start to shed grains even in the first year. Never power wash your composite shingle roof. Keep it well maintained to meet or exceed it’s expected lifespan.
5. Wood Shingle Roof
- Lifespan: 25 years
- What It Is: Wood is an organic/green material that looks great and lasts a long time. However, it is prone to decay and weathering. Note we are talking about wood shingles, not shakes (see below). Since shingles are sawn from the log, they are thin and flat.
- Making It Last: Replace any broken, split and cracked shingles immediately. Keep moss growth under control. Regular maintenance at least once a year.
4. Standing Seam Metal Roof
- Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
- What It Is: Standing seam metal roofing is a popular choice nowadays. After all, metal is one of the toughest materials out there. But metal roofs are complicated and aren’t offered by all roofing contractors. Be sure to hire a roof contractor that knows metal roofing and has a proven record of success.
- Making It Last: Regularly walk your standing seam metal roof to check for fastener and sealant failures. Check for damaged, bent, or loose panels. Keep the roof clear of debris and have regular professional inspections and they can last a lifetime!
3. Wood Shake Shingle Roof
- Lifespan: 35-40 years.
- What It Is: Being much thicker than wood shingles, these thicker shakes can stand up to harsh weather and UV rays much better than their thinner cousins. Sawn or split straight from the log, shakes are a great choice and very green!
- Making It Last: With regular, proper maintenance thick wood shakes will last for multiple decades. As with any wood shingle, shakes are high maintenance and should be babied with maintenance. Keep the roof clear of debris, eliminate moss, replace damaged shakes promptly. Have a professional inspection at least once a year.
2. Clay (Spanish) Tile Roof
- Lifespan: 100 years
- What It Is: From the old California missions that still exist today come these super long lasting tiles that even today’s technology cannot match. Due to the design constraints. you won’t likely see these take over shingle roofs any time soon, but if it fit’s your home’s style, it’ll likely still be enjoyed by your grandchildren’s grandchildren.
- Making It Last: Not susceptible to decay, like wood, or loose granules (like composite shingles), tiles are prone to cracking and once cracked it must be replaced. Avoid walking on the roof and have regular professional roof inspections to keep the roof clean and clear of debris (especially in salt air environments subject to efflorescence).
1. Slate Roof
- Lifespan: 50 – 200+ years
- What It Is: The strongest, longest living of them all, slate makes all the other materials look like cheap paper by comparison. Slate has been around for hundreds of years and like tiles, even our advances in technology simply cannot come close to matching it’s longevity. Slate is stone and laid down thick on the roof so it needs a strong foundation and adequate truss strength to hold it up. It’s very expensive but once it’s up it can last for generations. Soft slate can last 50-125 years while hard slate is 75 – 200+! A lot of factors go into those estimates so be sure you talk your local roof contractor to know what to expect.
- Making It Last: Not much can affect this material, after all stone is stone, but it should be inspected regularly (at least once a year). Broken tiles should be replaced immediately and various components like flashing may need to be replaced periodically.
For more information on roofing materials and what materials may be best for you contact your local roof contractor today!