The roof is the structure on a house that is the most affected by extreme weather conditions. Since it is such an important structure on a home, it is safe to say that it delivers many benefits and advantages; most notably is the convenience and safety it offers to the family. In spite of the obvious advantages, the roof reaches a point where its ability to provide protection to the rooms underneath deteriorates. The material lasts for many years and its lifespan is greatly affected by: the type of materials used; the location of the structure; the provided maintenance; the installation process; and the competency of the contractor who installed the structure.
Generally, the lifespan of many of these materials are engineered to last twenty years and that is based on the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) information. When provided with adequate maintenance and only minor damage due to climate changes, these materials will definitely last beyond their anticipated lifetime.
Following is the common lifespan of various types of roofs:
- Asphalt Shingles – Typically, both fiberglass and asphalt shingles, the most common type of materials, last for about 15 to 20 years depending on the environment and proper maintenance. There is an assumption that the longevity of this type of material is shorter in warmer climates because the primary enemy of asphalt shingles is thermal shock caused by an abrupt change of the ambient temperature in a short period of time. Attic ventilation also plays an important role in the lifespan of asphalt shingles. Good attic ventilation will lengthen the lifespan of the housetop.
- Wooden Shakes – Ideally, this variety of roofing material will last between 15 to 20 years. If wood shakes are well-maintained and not damaged by storms, its usability can be extended up to 30 years.
- Slate, Clay and Metal – The total longevity of these types of roofing materials is from 50 to 75 years and can last up to a century provided they are adequately maintained. These products are long lasting and come in a wide variety of colors and styles.
Many experts create their own prognosis on the longevity of various types of materials considering all the factors influencing their service life. Numerous people would say that the typical lifespan of asphalt material is between 20 and 50 years depending on the product type. Metal roofing can last up to 60 years. Regardless of how long these materials last, the reality is that there are approximately 2 million houses in the United States that need a roof replacement.
Extending the Lifespan
To stretch the length of time that a housetop will last, one very basic thing that should be done on a regular basis is to inspect it for any damage or leaks. This can be done by checking the deck through the attic for “coffee stains” or dark rings. This is a definitive sign that water is leaking from the roof. After the indoor assessment, go out and use binoculars to check the roof for trouble spots. If some problems are detected, then the structure can be repaired before the problem gets worse and causes extensive interior damage.
Shingle Deterioration Stages
In the first stage of deterioration, granulation occurs which can cause discoloration on the shingle tabs. This is not the stage prior to leakage but could be the cause of a shingle’s brittleness. During the second stage, curling will take place followed by the third stage in which there is an increase in curling of the brittle tabs and portions of shingle tabs can be seen in the gutters. In this phase, leakage will occur because water can penetrate the exposed nail heads. During the fourth stage, more tabs will fall off and many shingles will curl and become brittle. It is during the last stage that a homeowner will have to consider roof replacement.
All types of housetop materials have their own lifespan. This length of time can be influenced by the climate, the location, proper installation, and the workmanship of the installing contractor. There are many things to consider when dealing with the roof. If the goal is to achieve an increased life expectancy of a roof, it is necessary to provide adequate maintenance. A homeowner will otherwise have to realize that this roof will have an expiration date – sooner rather than later!