How long do roofs last?

Fri Sep 17 2021

3-tab shingle gable roof and a blue sky above

The life span of your roof depends on the materials that it’s made from and how the climate impacts those materials. Some roofing materials are more resilient than others, but most people can expect approximately 10 to 15 years from a roof made of 3-tab shingles. More expensive materials such as slate can last up to 25 years, depending on maintenance and where you live.

It's important to know the age of your roof because it impacts your home insurance premiums. The more life you have left on your roof, the lower your rates will usually be.

That's because your roof offers key protection for the rest of your home from the elements. A roof that needs to be replaced can easily lead to losses from water intrusion – and more.

You should note, too, that insurance carriers in different regions sometimes have strict roof age requirements. For example, Florida's climate can shorten a roof's lifespan, and most insurers take that into account during underwriting.

Let’s take a look at different roofing materials, how weather affects their durability, and what you can expect to pay for them per square (i.e.,100 square feet).

How long does a 3-tab roof last?

Because they’re inexpensive and easy to install, 3-tab shingles are some of the most common roofing materials and are found on all types of roofs. Depending on where you are, you may find warranties of up to 25 years for a 3-tab roof. However, the average 3-tab roof lasts about 12 to 15 years in a mild climate. In severe weather areas such as California and Florida, that drops to seven to 10 years. This is the result of harsh winds and a beating sun taking its toll on the shingles.

Each 3-tab shingle is made of asphalt that forms a watertight seal over the house and has mineral granules laid on top for color and durability. The cost ranges from $70 to $150 per square.

How long does an architectural shingle roof last?

Like 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles are made from asphalt; however, they are more durable than their 3-tab counterparts. Their average life span is between 25 and 30 years, but again, severe weather conditions may reduce that to 10 to 12 years.

Architectural shingles have a similar composition to 3-tabs, but they’re heavier, which is why they’re more durable. Additionally, architectural shingles aren’t flat so they can mimic more expensive roofing materials. Ultimately, they’re considered a more high-end roofing material. and cost you anywhere from $250 to $400 per square.

How long does a metal roof last?

Metal roofs are usually made from aluminum or steel and are particularly popular in hurricane-prone areas. They have a life span of 20 to 50 years with warranties in the 20-year range, although durability does vary based on the material. Lesser quality metal roofs made from thinner metals (26 to 29 gauge) usually have a shorter life span of up to 20 years.

The type and the thickness of the metal also impact the price. A roof made of aluminum or steel might cost $115 per square, but one made of copper or stone-coated steel may cost up to $900 per square.

How long does a clay tile roof last?

Clay roof tiles, most commonly seen as terracotta tiles popular in Southwest homes, do well in hot, sunny conditions and resist rot. While they can start showing their age in 15 to 20 years in Florida, most come with a warranty of at least 30 years. They can last 50 years or longer in ideal conditions.

The per square cost of clay tiles is around $600 to $800. However, once installed, there is little maintenance required for a long-lasting roof. Please note, however, that clay tiles are heavy, so they aren’t the right choice for every home.

How long does a wood roof last?

Wood roofs come in two types: rustic shakes and machine-cut shingles. Neither are as practical as more modern materials like asphalt – particularly in hot, humid climates – but many people find them aesthetically pleasing. In fact, other materials are often made to look like wood.

Wood roofs last about 30 years when perfectly maintained. The more realistic estimate is around 10 years, and that may be even shorter in coastal regions. They can cost anywhere from $250 to $600 per square for shingles and as much as $900 for wood shakes. Both fare well against hurricane winds, but they require a lot of maintenance. You need to inspect a wood roof annually for rot and warped or split shingles that could affect water resistance. Damaged shingles need to be replaced immediately to maintain the integrity of the roof.

How long does a slate roof last?

A slate roof is about the highest-end roof you can get with the longest life span. A properly installed slate roof can last up to 100 years and can withstand most weather conditions including sun, heat, and wind. They are perfect for locations such as Florida, Louisiana, and California where the elements can wreak havoc on a roof.

However, you pay a hefty price for such durability. The average cost of a slate roof is between $600 and $1,500 per square. And remember, durability isn’t forever. Wear and tear continually weakens your roof, so you may have to replace it in just 25 years. That’s even more true for soft slate tiles.

Plus, slate tiles are heavy, so your costs could go even higher if you have to reinforce your home’s framework to support the weight.

How long does built-up roofing last?

Built-up roofing is most often used on low-pitch and flat roofs. They consist of a series of asphalt and ply sheet layers on top of a cover board and insulation and a final reflective cap sheet made of minerals or a covering of asphalt and gravel. Not only does this make for excellent waterproofing, but flat roofs usually stand up to hurricane winds.

Built-up roofs can last as long as 40 years and often come with warranties between 15 and 30 years. This life span is a little shorter than some other types of roofing materials, but built-up roofing is often one of the only options for flat roofs. Luckily, built-ups are easy to maintain and inexpensive, costing anywhere from $250 to $400 per square.

How long do roofs last in Florida and Louisiana?

How long your roof lasts in the hurricane-prone states of Florida and Louisiana depends on the type of roof that you have. Roofs take a heavier beating and don’t last as long in these states. For example, a 3-tab roof’s lifespan drops to around seven to 10 years while architectural shingles may only last 10 to 12 years. Higher quality roofs such as clay tiles can do well against hurricane conditions, keeping a life expectancy of up to 20 years.

No matter what type of roofing material you have, you need to look into wind mitigation. Taking a few simple steps to hurricane-proof your home goes a long way to keeping you and your family safe.


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