How Long Do Roofs Last? The Complete Guide

how long do roofs last

How long do roofs last? Actually, since every roof is different, this isn’t just one question but many.

Each different type of roofing material has its own average lifespan. And that lifespan is also affected by other factors, including the typical weather it endures and how well it’s maintained.

Once you consider all these factors, you’ll have a good idea of how long you can expect each individual roof to last. Today, we’re going to explain these factors in detail for this very reason.

First, we’ll explore the average life expectancy of each type of roofing material. Then, we’ll describe how certain factors will shorten the roof’s lifespan, and what can be done to prevent this. Learn all you need to know about roof lifespan from this guide.

How Long Do Roofs Last?

We’ll start by listing each type of roofing material and how long it should last under optimal conditions. This lifespan assumes that the roof is well-maintained and doesn’t endure extreme weather conditions.

Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Asphalt shingles are extremely common in residential roofing and come in two types, 3-tab and architectural. The most common of these, 3-tab, should last 15-20 years if well-maintained. Architectural asphalt shingle roofs generally last up to 10 years longer due to their more protective, layered design.

Built-Up Roofing

BUR roofing is similar to asphalt shingle roofing but for flat roofs. The asphalt is laid in a single sheet that covers the entire roof and then piled up several layers thick.

The result is a heavy, flat roof that’s about as durable as a paved road. With proper maintenance, it should last at least 15-20 years.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Essentially, modified bitumen roofing is just like BUR except that it’s made with more durable materials. Despite it’s upgraded durability, it’s actually lighter than BUR. Plus, it’s easier to install.

A modified bitumen roof will typically last about 2-5 years longer than BUR.

Wood Shingle Roofing

Wood shingle roofs should last around 25-30 years. But they require a bit more maintenance than asphalt shingles in order to optimize their lifespan.

For instance, you must keep the roof clear dirt, leaves, and other debris, as well as moss growth. If you don’t, these will keep moisture trapped against the wood roofing and accelerate wear and decay. Following proper maintenance could extend the life of your wood roof by 10 years or more.

These roofs are not a good choice for dry, hot weather. This can dry out and crack the shingles and even cause them to be a fire hazard.

Wood Shake Roofing

Wood shakes are thicker and, therefore, longer-lasting than wood shingles. They’re extremely resilient to harsh weather, UV rays, and other detrimental factors.

Wood shake roofing should last 10 years longer than a wood shingle roof. But, for this to happen, you need to follow the same maintenance steps you would for a wood shingle roof.

Clay/Cement Tile Roofing

Tile roofing is extremely hard and durable, and also very heavy. However, the extra reinforcement required to hold up such a roof is one of the protective factors that cause the roof to last so long. These roofs can last anywhere from 50-100 years.

Slate Roofing

Slate roofing is cut from thick, solid stone that naturally holds up against the elements for centuries. When installed on a roof, it will almost certainly last at least 100 years.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is very long-lasting. The more durable metal roofing materials, like copper/zinc, have a lifespan of 100+ years. Even the cheaper options, like aluminum/steel, can last around 50 years.

Factors That Shorten a Roof’s Life

As mentioned, wood roofs are susceptible to decay if you don’t maintain them properly. In the same way, other roofs wear out faster when they aren’t properly maintained, too.

Asphalt shingles might come loose when the wind gets too strong. If these aren’t inspected and replaced often enough, moisture can leak into the roof, causing progressive damage from the inside. Also, the sealant on metal roofs can erode and cause the same problem.

The bottom line is, all roofs need an annual roof inspection. This way, you can catch these problems before they shave years off the life of your roof.

How to Prevent Roof Damage and Preserve Your Roof

We can’t reiterate enough that annual inspections are the best way to preserve your roof. Still, there are some signs of roof damage that you can look for yourself. Here are some examples to look for (and get professional help to fix).


If you know your building leaks, get it repaired now. Such leaks can cause roof/attic damage, mold infestation, wasted energy, and a myriad of other problems.

If it’s not the rainy season, you can still check each room on the top floor for holes. On a sunny day, block all light so that the room is dark. 

Do you see light streaming in from the ceiling? If so, call it in. Even a small hole will quickly become a big problem.

Moisture Damage

Perhaps you don’t see water leaking but you have the telltale stains of water damage. These look like dirty, discolored rings on the ceiling or streaks down your walls. If you see these, call a roofing professional to come and inspect.

Exterior Roof Damage

If you have access or a clear line-of-sight to your roof exterior, inspect it for damage. You may notice cracked/missing shingles or holes from fallen branches of overhanging trees.

Also, note any patch jobs that don’t look right. Specifically, patch jobs should blend in with your roof. If you can notice a patch at all, it was probably done wrong.

Conversely, if you can’t access your roof, you can still check the perimeter of your building and the gutters. Check these places for debris of broken roofing material and chimney flashing. Get a roof inspection right away if you notice any of these signs.

Worried About the State of Your Roof?

Now, it’s our turn to ask you some questions. What exactly caused you to wonder, “How long do roofs last?”

Are you worried about the state of your own roof? Or are you in the market for a new roof?

Whatever the reason, we can help. Contact us here with any questions you have or to request a quote and we’ll respond promptly.

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1254 SW 6th Street,
Pompano Beach FL 33069

(855) 455-6063

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One Last Step to Finish

“I work with a lot of contractors as a real estate broker. There are a few that stand out. It is very hard to find a company that does great work at a fair price – and – has outstanding communication and customer service. Brett and Innovative Roofing is one of those rare breeds. They have earned a reputation as being one of the best in the business as it has been earned through great work. I received a reply from them on a Saturday and that put them over the top in customer service – such a rarity.”

Doug L. Boca Raton, FL