Most homeowners try to ignore the condition of their roofs. But taking good care of your roof, and replacing it when necessary, is an important part of protecting your home’s value over time. So, how often should you replace your roof?
Unfortunately, a roof’s lifespan cannot be reduced to a simple number: it depends on various factors like the type of material and climate. For example, in hotter areas along the western side of the U.S., an average residential roof lasts 15-20 years—but that’s just an estimate!
Factors That Can Affect a Roof's Lifespan
Roofs are essential elements of residential and commercial buildings, protecting the rest of a structure from water damage. But how long do they last? And which factors can affect that lifespan? Let’s explore:
Type of Roof
The kind of roof you have will affect how long it lasts. For example, composition shingles are the most popular choice for residential homes in the Midwest and lower Western states because they’re inexpensive and easy to install—but they don’t last as long as clay or concrete tile roofs, which are made from natural materials rather than synthetic ones like plastic or rubber (like asphalt/composition shingles).
However, they have a shorter lifespan than other roofs—typically lasting 15-20 years. Metal roofs are much more durable and can last 40-70 years, while clay or concrete tile shingles may stand up to 50 to 100 years, but these materials cost significantly more than metal ones.
The climate on the West Coast is hot and humid in the summer, which can take a toll on roofs. Particularly in hotter climates where moisture buildup may occur, regularly inspect your roof for signs of damage, such as leaks or missing shingles. Doing so can help extend the lifespan of your roof.
If you want your roof to last, you must ensure it is properly maintained. At the very least, check it once yearly; if your area has severe weather patterns, inspect it more often. Look for signs of damage—even small ones—and have repairs made as soon as possible to avoid more significant problems down the road.
When to Replace Your Roof
Even with proper maintenance, you’ll need to replace your roof at some point. Several signs indicate when it is time for a new one:
Severe Weather Conditions and Their Resulting Damage
After a severe storm, homeowners should inspect their property for damage. A broken branch or fallen fencepost is vital to notice immediately, but so is damage to the roof, which could indicate leaks or other structural issues that are even more serious.
Severe storms can lead to leaks and structural damage that may go unnoticed initially. So if you see any missing shingles, damaged flashing, or other signs of storm damage on your home, have a professional inspect it immediately: left unchecked, these problems will only get worse, putting both your family’s safety and property values in jeopardy.
A Roof That Is More Than 20 Years Old
Like all other parts of houses and buildings, roofs are subject to deterioration over time. While there’s no magic formula for knowing when your roof will need replacing (other than “when it gets too old”), you should start thinking about a new one once yours reaches the 20-to-30-year mark, even if it doesn’t seem worn out yet. Replacing a composition shingle roof is less critical. Metal or tile roofs can last up to 70 years, but if you have a composition shingle roof, it’s best to start planning a replacement once you reach the 20-year mark.
Multiple Repairs Due to Leaks
Multiple leaks are the most common signs that it’s time for a new roof. If you’ve had to patch up your roof repeatedly because of leaking, replacing the whole thing is usually cheaper and more accessible than repairing each leak individually. There’s nothing like rain pattering on your roof, especially when you’re snuggled up indoors with a good book. But once leaks start springing up all over your home? It’s time to face facts: Your roof doesn’t just need repairs anymore—it needs replacement! If you neglect to have your roof repaired when leaks first occur, the damage they cause can be extensive and costly. Left unchecked, these leaks can lead to problems such as mold or mildew growth inside walls.
Sagging or Collapsing
The most dangerous sign that your roof needs to be replaced is sagging. Several factors, including severe weather damage, poor maintenance, and old age, can cause this. If you see any signs of this happening at your home, it’s important not to wait and to evacuate immediately. Instead, call a professional; don’t try to handle this alone. Sagging or collapsing roofs are dangerous and can cause significant damage to your home if not addressed quickly. If left alone, they may also pose a safety risk to you and your family.
Different Types of Roofs and How Often to Replace Them
The Western United State’s diverse landscape is evident in its homes—from traditional pitched roofs to adobe designs, we have it all. Roofs are no exception: from gabled styles to flat ones, homeowners looking for something different in their home decorating schemes have a wide range of possibilities. Knowing the type of roof you have will give you a good idea of how often it needs to be replaced. Here are some common types, along with lifespan and replacement schedule information:
Asphalt Shingles: 20-30 years
Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material in the United States. Combining asphalt and fiberglass, they have proven durable yet easy to install. Asphalt shingles offer a variety of colors and styles, which makes them popular among homeowners looking to either build or update their roofs. The lifespan of these shingles varies depending on the quality of materials used and environmental conditions; most asphalt shingle manufacturers claim they’ll last between 20-30 years, but that depends on where you live!
A good rule of thumb is that asphalt shingles should be replaced every 25 years or so to ensure that they continue to provide quality protection for your home.
Metal Roofs: 40-70 years
Metal roofs are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their durability and energy efficiency. Steel is the most common metal roofing material; it’s a good choice for homeowners who want a long-lasting roof without high maintenance costs. Generally, a metal roof should be replaced every 40-50 years—much less often than the time generally recommended for other types of roofs.
Tile Roofs: 50-100 years
Tiled roofs are favored for their attractive appearance, and they remain popular among homeowners who want a roof that will last. Tiles made from clay or concrete can endure more than 100 years with proper maintenance. In addition, tile roofs are wind-resistant and hail resistant, which is why they’re favored on the West Coast. They cost more than other roofing materials, but tile may be your best choice if budget isn’t a concern for you.
Slate Roofs: Up to 100 years
Slate roofs are the most durable type of roofing material available, and they last a very long time. These roofs consist of natural stone split into thin, flat pieces; slate roofs are typically installed on high-end homes or commercial buildings because they can be quite expensive. Slate roofs can last for decades with proper maintenance. Some slate roofs can last up to 100 years, but the average life span of a slate roof is about 80 years—making this an excellent choice for homeowners who want longevity out of their shingles.