There are some parts of your home you just know when to fix — if your bathroom grout is cracked, you know it’s time to replace it. However, other elements aren’t so obvious, like your roof. Unless your roof is clearly missing shingles or appears to be sagging, it’s often tough to know when a roof replacement should happen.
Ultimately, it depends on what material your roof is made of and what environmental factors it regularly endures. Some roofs will hold up longer than others, so it’s crucial to know when to expect to invest in a new roof. Keep reading to learn more about the average lifespan of different types of roofs and the signs that will tell you when to replace a roof.
How Long Do Different Roofing Materials Last?
Although some roofing options last longer than others, specific climate and manufacturing conditions, such as severe weather or a poor-quality installation, can impact your roof’s lifespan.
Let’s review the lifespans of five popular roofing options.
In the United States, asphalt shingles are incredibly common. Made of fiberglass and asphalt sealant, it’s easy to see why — these shingles are affordable and match almost any home’s aesthetic. However, asphalt shingles only last 15 to 30 years, so homeowners need to replace them more frequently than some of the more expensive options.
There are three different kinds of asphalt shingles. Regardless of the type you have, all types of asphalt shingles are prone to cracking in climates with dramatic weather and temperature changes, such as in the Southwest.
- 3-tab shingles: These are the least expensive shingle option — but keep in mind that what you save in the upfront costs, you’ll spend later, as these shingles last 15 to 20 years.
- Architectural or dimension shingles: Although architectural shingles have a higher price, they’ll last longer than the 3-tab shingles. These options typically last around 20 to 30 years.
- Premium shingles: Premium asphalt shingles are the most expensive and can last 25 to 40 years.
While wood shingles last a little bit longer than asphalt shingles — between 20 and 30 years — they’re still not the most durable option. Because wood is porous, it allows water to penetrate your roof. This moisture leads to more problems, like sagging and warping. On the other hand, they’re also very flammable, which could be dangerous in dry climates. As a result, these shingles take more maintenance than other options.
For a more durable wood option, wood shakes are available. Although shakes have a rougher appearance than shingles, they’re thicker and are more resistant to weathering, lasting 35 to 40 years.
Typically, a metal roof will last up to around 70 years. However, there are various types of metal roofs available, and some last longer than others:
- Steel: Most people choose steel for their metal roofing option, as they last between 30 and 50 years and are the least expensive metal roofing option.
- Aluminum: Because aluminum is often painted, it’s not always easy to differentiate it from steel. This material doesn’t rust, so it’s great for places with high quantities of salt or acid rain. Additionally, aluminum is lighter, softer and more expensive than steel and also lasts 30 to 50 years.
- Copper: Copper is one of the most expensive metal roof options. However, it can also last more than 100 years. Copper is also very easy to cut and shape.
Clay and Cement Tile Roofing
Like metal roofs, clay tiles are weather-, rot- and fire-resistant, so they last between 50 and 100 years. However, cement and tile roofs won’t last as long in cooler climates, as the constant freeze-thaw cycle can easily lead to cracking. It’s important to seal these roofing materials to ensure they stand against all types of weather.
Slate makes for the most durable roofing material, lasting upwards of 200 years in some cases. It’s ideal for climates with extreme weather conditions, such as high winds or rapidly changing temperatures, as it doesn’t retain water very well. Therefore, it requires minimal maintenance. However, this type of roofing is very heavy, so installation isn’t always possible on some roofs.
How Can I Tell if I Need a New Roof?
If you spot damage on your roof, you know that you’ll either need to replace some parts of the roof or even all of it. That said, you might not know what exactly damage indicates an entirely new roof. A good place to start is to look through your records to determine when your roof was last replaced or reshingled. Knowing when you had your roof installed can give you an idea of how much time it has left.
Typically, you can tell if you need a new roof by:
- Checking your attic
- Searching for damaged shingles
- Examining flashing around vents
- Looking for moss, mold and fungi
- Seeing if your roof is sagging
Check Your Attic
Checking the interior of your house can reveal areas where your roof might be leaking or damaged. With a flashlight, climb up under the eaves in your attic and look for signs of a leaky roof — stains, streaks and beams of light that come through the top of the house.
It’s possible to tell if the leak is active by observing if the cracks and stains change shape or size after several rainfalls. While you can patch small leaks, larger issues that are accompanied by structural damages call for a new roof.
Search for Damaged Shingles
When you look at your shingles, they should lie flat against the roof — if they’re cracked, damaged, buckling or curling, you might need a new roof. However, you may be able to replace shingles if only a small number of them are missing.
Here’s what you should check your shingles for:
- Curling: Make sure the edges of your shingles aren’t curling upward, or “cupping.” On the flip side, make sure your shingles also aren’t “clawing,” which happens when the edges stay flat while the middle rises.
- Cracks: If cracking is isolated to one particular area, you can individually replace your shingles. That said, you should get a new roof if the cracking is spread throughout the roof.
- Granules in the gutters: While your shingles will occasionally lose granules, which protect the shingles from weathering, they shouldn’t be losing a significant amount of them. If you notice several missing granules, you should replace your shingles.
Examine Flashing Around Vents
The flashing is what seals your roof from bad weather. Check the flashing around any vents, skylights or chimneys for any cracks or breaks, which will lead to leaks. If you live in an older home that has cement or tar flashing, consider upgrading to metal.
Look for Moss, Mold and Fungi
While moss is mostly a cosmetic issue, moss, mold and fungi can signal trapped moisture in your roof, which ultimately leads to damage. Don’t try to power wash or scrape off the green gunk yourself, as you could destroy the granules and render your shingles useless.
Instead, upgrade to modern algae-resistant shingles or apply zinc strips to the peak of your roof, which will eventually take care of the moss and mold. Additionally, you can try to gently wash the gunk off with a solution of one part water and one part bleach.
See if Your Roof Is Sagging
If your roof is drooping or sagging, you’ll want to replace it as soon as possible. Both rotting boards and sagging spots are signs of trapped moisture that has caused structural damage. If you notice any sagging, you’ll want to take care of replacing your roof quickly as damage is easier to take care of before it’s impacted the entire roof.
Contact Renew by Grace Point for Your Roof Replacement Needs
If you live in Oregon or southwest Washington and think your roof needs replaced, Renew by Grace Point is here to help! As an AAMA-certified installer, you can rest assured our talented team of professionals will replace your old roof with expertise. Contact Renew by Grace Point to learn more about our full range of residential contracting services today!