How long will my roof last? This varies a lot due to different material choices. The best roofing contractors are skilled at installing many different systems. Poorly installed roofing shingles may only last until high winds come sweeping through your town! A well installed roofing system is going to last longer than the manufacturer warranties it for. Many factors go into the life expectancy of roofing shingles, including southern facing exposure, drastic temperature changes in different regions, the amount of trees and shade the roof receives, severe or coastal weather, the roofing contractor’s skill level, and of course the brand of shingles and underlayments.
Shingle roofing systems – local roofing contractors who are certified usually are the best choice for installing a new shingle roof because they can offer the extended manufacturer’s warranty. Most certified roofing installers have been trained to install a roof per spec and can not get a manufacturer’s certification without the know how. This alone will usually guarantee your roof installation is performed correctly; having enough nails to prevent high wind blow-offs, installing all flashing correctly to prevent premature leaks and guaranteeing the use of premium roofing materials since most manufacturers will not extend a warranty with the use of knock-off materials. When the best roofing contractors install a fully warrantied roofing system, you can expect to get 20-25 years out of a moderately weathered and or sheltered home.
Having a lot of trees around your home can either be great or detrimental to your roof’s life expectancy. Often, trees will cause more harm than good to your roof for the following reasons:
- Branches or even the trees themselves can fall and damage your roof.
- Other debris such as leaves and needles can also cause issues, blocking your gutters and valleys and encouraging the growth of mold.
- Trees can cause moss and lichen to grow on your roof. Once the moss reaches a certain point it starts getting in between the roofing shingles. If this happens, the moss will absorb any moisture and feeds right onto your roof decking, where it causes further damage. At this point, if your roof is not already leaking then it will be soon. If things progress this far, it will cost much more to repair later.
- If the trees are too close, animals may be tempted to jump to or nest on your roof.
- Too much shade can mean that your roof does not dry off quickly. It can also mean that snow will linger around much longer on your rooftop. This can be detrimental to your roof if ice dams form consistently over time.
However, in the right environment, trees could also be very beneficial to your roof for the following reasons:
- These trees may actually help your roof last longer by protecting it from the sun’s harmful UV rays. UV rays will contribute to the breakdown of the components of your roofing system over time. These components are rated to last a certain amount of time in direct sunlight, but often they would last much longer in a more shaded environment.
- The right trees can also protect your home from storms and harsh weather without putting your property at more risk.
- Shade from trees can help your home stay cooler in the summer and reduce the strain on your air conditioning units.
A well sheltered asphalt shingle roof will last 25-30 years. These well-sheltered houses would also most likely benefit from having gutter guards installed as some houses in the woods need to have their gutters cleaned up to 5 times a year.
The quality of shingle will also greatly affect the roofing system’s life expectancy. Top brand shingle manufacturing companies have developed their roofing shingles through years and years of research and development. GAF’s test lab recently installed a roof using no nails or any fasteners. The roof was put under extreme 140 mph wind conditions and remained fully intact. GAF is also the only shingle company that makes a shingle that is 50% thicker, known as their ULTRA line. These shingles are known to last anywhere from 30-35 years and also improve the looks of the roof because the increased thickness increases the shadow lines creating more contrast for an overall fancier look. As an experienced local roofing company, we can tell you that no other roofing manufacturer comes close to rivalling the consistently high quality of GAF’s shingles.
The quality of underlayments used under the roofing shingles will be another determining factor on how long your roof will last. An upgraded GAF Deck Armor roof allows the decking to breathe while not letting moisture in. This will allow your house’s attic to remain cooler in the hot months decreasing the overall roof temperature preventing the shingles from prematurely aging due to extreme temperatures. Also a higher quality Ice and Water shield will stick tight to the nails penetrating it so that no moisture will get in between the nail holes if you do have ice dams building up along your eaves. A lot of roofing contractors will try and save hundreds of dollars by using the cheap store brands of ice and water which do not really fully adhere to the roof decking, allowing ice build up to rot out the bottom few feet of decking.
Metal roofing systems have an average life expectancy of about 50 years. It is important to only use contractors who have experience installing metal as it is a highly skilled trade. Metal is something you put on your forever home. Standing seam is the Cadillac of metal roofing and is going to have little to no maintenance due to a snap lock panel system. Corrugated roofing is more economical but will need some maintenance from time to time because it has exposed fasteners. These exposed fasteners have little rubber washers creating a watertight seal that eventually fail over the course of the roof’s lifespan. To properly maintain these penetrations and avoid leaks they will need to be caulked after about 20 years. Taking into consideration the maintenance and overall price of a corrugated metal roofing system, it still remains a huge ROI compared to two and a half lifespans of shingles.
Cedar shakes can be expected to last around 30 years. This system will need some maintenance from time to time. The color of cedar shakes darkens and looks more natural as years go on. The overall cost of a cedar shake roofing system does end up costing around the same price as metal but will not last as long and is typically only purchased for aesthetic purposes. Cedar shakes do come in metal and composite look-a-likes which will have a longer lifespan of 50 years. Most local roofing companies will not install cedar shakes due to inexperience.
Slate is the longest lasting roofing product to this date. Some slate had lasted almost a hundred years in the right conditions. Most slate is going to start looking rough and needing continuous maintenance after about 75 years. Slate now comes in composites and can be expected to last just as long as real slate. Local roofing companies who can install slate are usually hard to come by. Most local roofing contractors will not quote for or repair slate, as you have to be so highly skilled or you can easily cause more damage than good.
Rubber roofing or EPDM roofing is most commonly used for flat commercial roofing or smaller porch roof sections on residential homes and will last between 20-25 years. Most manufacturers offer 20 year full coverage warranties if you use their full roofing system, meaning you have to use all quality, name brand seam tape and cover tape. Commercial roofing companies are usually certified by manufacturers because high standards must be met in order for the manufacturers to back their labor and material warranties once they are installed. Commercial roofing manufacturers will send roofing inspectors out after the work is complete to check it meets all their requirements. If the contractors work is sub-par a warranty will not be issued until all aspects have been installed to spec.
A TPO roofing system will last twenty to twenty five years. Only the best roofing contractors in each area will be geared towards installing TPO. Local roofing contractors usually don’t install this system because they do not have the expensive equipment needed to perform heat welds. TPO is also a white reflective roof which will add years to your cooling units lifespans.
Overall you only need high quality materials and high quality workmanship to get the most bang for your buck over the long term. The best way to get the longest potential lifespan out of a roofing system is to choose a quality product that offers a full warrantied system which has to use all high quality accessories to qualify for full coverage. Make sure to ask your contractor which materials are being used and check the contract for brand names on underlayments.
Choosing certified roofing installers who back their work up with their own in house warranty is the safest bet to achieve maximum lifetime efficiency out of the materials you invest in. Check that the local roofing company is listed on any websites they claim to be certified by to ensure that you will receive an actual manufacturers warranty. Most shingle companies will mail you a warranty within a month after your replacement offering you peace of mind for many years to come.
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