If you have a roof, you need to understand its expected lifespan in order to make wise decisions about repairs and replacement needs. The roofing materials and many other factors play a role in the length of time your roof should last. For instance, asphalt-based shingles can usually last up to 50 years, while older used materials last closer to 15. Understanding these factors is crucial before making any decisions regarding your roof.
Asphalt and metal are the longest-lasting materials on your roof. Wood shakes are some of the shortest-lived roofs, with a life span of 14 to 20 years. High quality asphalt roofing materials can last between 20 and 50 years, depending on your location. Metal roofs can last between 40 and 50 years. In most situations, however, a roof is not made from pure asphalt or pure metal, so it will need to be replaced at around the 20-year mark.
Other factors play a role in how long your roof will last. Roofing material that is exposed to frequent weather changes will not last as long as material that is in a fairly mild climate. Extremes of any sort, whether it be cold, heat, humidity, or precipitation, will wear away your roof faster than its expected lifespan. The peak of the roof also plays a roll, as it impacts how directly the roof is exposed to the elements.
In addition, the quality of the workmanship used when installing the roof will play a role. If plywood decking is used, the roof may last longer than if composite is used. The quality of the underlayment also plays a role, and should be chosen based on the environmental factors that will affect the roof.
Evaluating Your Roof
If you feel your roof is reaching that 20-year mark, take some time to evaluate it carefully. Go into your attic and inspect the underside of the roof deck for stains and wet spots that indicate small leaks are present. Roof leaks appear dry with dark rings on the edges, somewhat like a coffee stains. Spotting leaks at this point is always better than spotting them when they are substantial enough to drip onto your ceilings.
If you can walk on your roof, take a walk to see if the surface looks good. Inspect the surface granules on your shingles. If they are wearing off, your roof is nearing the end of its expected lifespan and will need to be repaired or replaced. If the shingles are starting to warp and curl, you need to think about having a roofing contractor give you an estimate on roof repair as soon as possible, because you are nearing the point where repair is not possible and you will have to fully replace the roof.
If you find that you need a new roof, consider hiring a qualified roofing contractor, rather than a general handyman. This improves the likelihood that the job will be done well, and it also helps your new roof to have a longer life expectancy. It’s far better to pay a little more now and have the roof last longer, than to face the need to replace it again not far down the road.