Something homeowners are often mystified by is the lifespan of their roof. Different materials have significantly different lifespans, and the factors that play into this aren’t obvious to anyone who doesn’t have a lot of experience working with roofing materials. But, knowing the life expectancy of your roof is important, because as it becomes older, you’ll need to know when you need to perform increasing amounts of maintenance and need to schedule more frequent inspections.

Still, if you live in a place with a pretty stable climate, you don’t want to jump the gun on this. Today, we’re going to take a look at the different types of a shingle roof, their average lifespans, why they have such lifespans, and what factors can contribute to more or less longevity with them.

When we’re done, it’ll all seem pretty straightforward and obvious, believe it or not.

Standard Asphalt Shingles

These are the most common, oldest technology when it comes to contemporary shingles. They’re the most affordable, easiest to install, and are pretty hardy. Standard 3-tab shingles (which are the most common variety of these for residences) have an average lifespan of 15-18 years.

Compare this to architectural asphalt shingles (which provide a smoother, almost tiled appearance), which have a lifespan of 24-30 years. Why is this? Well, it’s partially material quality, which is higher on the more expensive to produce and install architectural version, but part of it is form factor as well. The more even seal of architectural shingles doesn’t get battered by wind, and temperatures and the elements don’t work their way underneath to mess with the adhesive as quickly.

Don’t let this deter you from going with the classic 3-tab shingle, though. They may not have quite the inherent longevity, but they are very affordable to repair and replace, meaning the shorter lifespan isn’t going to hurt your pocketbook nearly as much as you might expect.

Organic/Fiberglass Shingles

This is a newer technology, though it can be hard to spot them versus standard asphalt by a visual glance unless you have a trained eye. However, this material does mean it can have more customized shapes, looking like other materials such as shake or ceramics thanks to modern manufacturing processes.

These ten do last more or less the lifespan of architectural asphalt shingles, though given how new the material is, this isn’t a standard, on-the-books estimation quite yet. The reason for this longevity is their greater durability overall, and the increased amount of asphalt (up to 40% more) which makes them more resistant to wind and the elements as well.
These are costlier than regular asphalt, though.

Alternative Materials

A few other materials we’re only going to glance at numbers for, due to not being traditional singles, have varied lifespans. Metal shingles, due to their rigidity and temperature resistance tend to last 30-45 years. Concrete tiles, due to a similar resistance, last 35-50 years, EPDM (rubber) shingles, which are very rare, last only 10-16 years.

Factors for Longevity with Shingles

There are a multitude of factors that can affect how long shingles last in different scenarios. Let’s look the big ones below:

  • Temperature Extremes – Severe fluctuations in temperature, that of extreme cold or extreme heat, will gradually cause shingles to crack, buckle, or for the adhesive to eventually fail. This is mostly due to a phenomenon called thermal expansion, wherein something contracts when very cold, and expands when very hot.
  • Coloration – As most people know, darker colors absorb light, and as a result, also heat. This can cause fading and one side of the temperature extremes, making them come loose, buckle, or crumble. If you live in a very sunny climate, brighter roof colors are better, they deflect a lot of that solar energy.
  • The angle of Roof’s Slope – As a result of a steeper angle on a roof deflecting wind, not receiving as direct sunlight, and their better proficiency at letting water and snow flow off with gravity, you’ll see more longevity as a result.
  • Roof Orientation – The facing of the roof, directionally, affects the amount of sun. The more southerly it is oriented, the more sun it’s going to get, at least in the northern hemisphere.
  • Material and Installation – If you have a sloppily-installed roof, or go with the cheapest materials, you can expect it to have a far shorter lifespan. This one’s pretty obvious, but merits pointing out!
  • Ventilation of the Attic – If you don’t properly ventilate your attic, heat builds up underneath the roof that causes the same thermal problems.
  • Trees Nearby – Tree branches that crape or rub on the roof, as well as dropping smaller twigs and leaf material, can play havoc on your roof. They’ll encourage moss and mold, decay and abrasion. Keep your trees well-trimmed to where they can’t antagonize your roof.


With good maintenance and frequent inspections, you can usually extend the lifespan of most roofs by a good factor, if the climate cooperates. Most warranties do cover defects or installation mistakes, but always ask for a copy of your warranty, and keep maintenance and inspection records. Look for materials and contractors with warranties for the roof in general for a time period – many offer them.

To learn more about roof longevity, proper maintenance, and the good warranties solid manufacturers should and do provide, fill out our contact form or call us today!