As a homeowner, we can assume that you definitely take your roof seriously, understanding that it’s a first and last line of defense against the elements. After all, a shoddy roof can let termites, rodents, various insects, spiders and other nasty critters into your house. However, as unpleasant as these pests are nothing compares to the woes of water damage.

Water damage starts out as discoloration on your roof, and leaks in your house. As unpleasant as these leaks are, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. From there, you’ll start to notice lodging in your ceilings, a degradation of your plastering carpet, and a foul odor.

The foul odor is a sign of mold, some of which can be quite toxic. Black mold can actually be lethal to small children, the elderly and infirm, and animals. It’s not good for you either, and cumulative effects are nothing to laugh at with this particular type of mold.

Then, of course, is the concern of climate control. A roof that leaks, also leaks outward, letting your air conditioning and heat out into the wild. This will drive your electric bill into orbit, and nobody wants that, energy is expensive as it is.

If your roof is in bad enough shape, your home can wind up condemned, or at the very least, you lose a lot of resale value, your curb appeal, and your insurance company becomes quite difficult to contend with.

How long has it been since you replaced your roof? Has it been more than a couple decades? Depending on what type of roof you have, you may be quite overdue, and just because problems both visible and otherwise haven’t manifested, doesn’t mean that you’re not just lucky, and that any minute, problems won’t arise.

Deciding whether or not you might be due for a roof replacement, is predicated on whether or not you know how long your roof lasts. Today, we like to take a look at the most common roofing materials, and talk about just how long they last on average, which ought to give you a good clue as to whether or not you’re due for replacement. At the end of the day, we recommend that you have your roof inspected before making any commitments or assumptions, regardless of how well you absorb the material were going to cover in this piece.

That said, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Asphalt Shingles

These are among one of the oldest, and most common roofing materials in the United States and Canada. While some people balk at the idea of asphalt shingles these days, depending on which type you go with, they can actually be quite beautiful, and their modular nature and affordability makes them an excellent material for environments where you have to do frequent repairs.

Asphalt shingles are designed to fall away and be easily replaced, and honestly, given that there are two general classifications for these, there are really two different lifespans in which can be applied. This can lead to some confusion, but were going to clear this up with no problem.

First, let’s address the more common of the two, and the one that you probably think of when you think of shingles. Three-tab shingles do not have a particularly long lifespan, unless you have a particularly high-end formulation for the material used. These tend to last between 10 to 20 years on the outset, though occasionally, you will find some that last up to 25.

Architectural shingles, which are heavier, more diverse, and considered premium, can last a lot longer, between 15 to 25 years, and some lasting up to 30. If you’re not sure, assume that if your roof is over two decades old, and you have shingles like these, you probably need them replaced, if not large sections of it repaired. Take heart, shingles like these are affordable, and designed to be renewed often.

Tile Roof

Tile roofs are evocative of an exotic locale, such as the Mediterranean, the American Southwest, or the tropics. On top of being beautiful, though, there also really tough. While they’re heavy, and often difficult to install, you can count on a tile roof for at least 50 years, and sometimes upwards of 100 years. That said, an average, conservative estimate is between 40 to 75 years, so you really needn’t worry unless you’ve passed that 40 your mark, at which time you should have it inspected just to be sure.

Cedar Shake

Cedar shake is a very old, rustic style of roof, heralding back to the colonial, East Coast era. They’re becoming increasingly popular on homes in wooded areas, looking for more organic, timeless appearance. Their lightweight, and a lot more durable than one would expect, but you can’t count on these lasting too terribly long, especially in a maritime climate. You can expect between 20 to 35 years out of these, though some of them can hit 45 before they need replaced. A general rule is that after 20 years, have this inspected, and anticipate at least part of it needing replaced at that point.

Metal Roof

Metal isn’t a brand-new idea, but modern technologies allow these to become diverse, quite splendid alternatives to shingle. Metal roofs aren’t immortal, but they have about the lifespan of tile roofs, between 50 to 100 years on the outset. If your metal roof is 50 years old, at this very moment, you got an older type of metal, and it probably needs replaced.


Slate has a certain rustic, timeless charm to it, and it’s also pretty durable. While more fragile than other types of stone, it’s lightweight, unique ability to be thin allows it to be a perfect roofing material. One might expect stone the last forever, but you can expect about 50 to 100 years out of it. That’s pretty long, as not many of us are expecting to be around 100 years from now. If you’re installing a brand-new Slate roof, it will outlive you, and as morbid as that may sound, it’s one less thing to have to deal with for the rest your life.


Composite is a relatively new idea, but a good one. Composite can look like shingle, stone, metal, shake, or even tile. Being a modern material, it does last a while, but it doesn’t last forever. Expect about 30 to 50 years out of this, but don’t expect it to cost you a whole lot, and expect a replacement to be a one-off thing when it happens, versus shingle where you’ll be constantly replacing it in sections before the ultimate replacement has to happen.

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