How Long Do Roofs Last? • Lifespan of Every Roof Type

With Typical Warranty Period for Each Type of Roof

By Jack Gray, Roof Online Editor • Updated March 28, 2024

How Long Does a Roof Last? A cedar shingle roof like this one can last over 40 years if properly maintained.
cedar shingle roof like this one can last up to 40 years if it’s taken care of properly. Those tree branches are going to be a problem, as the shade keeps the shingles from drying out properly. This can hasten the deterioration of the shingles.

Lifespans of Common Roofing Materials

Asphalt Shingles – Average Lifespan

The most common roofing material found on houses in North America is the asphalt shingle. The asphalt shingle roof has been around for over 100 years, and a lot of product improvements have been made in that time.

There are currently three standard tiers of asphalt shingles. The cheapest are strip or three-tab asphalt shingles, which will typically last 15 to 25 years.

The most popular asphalt shingles in North America today are “architectural” shingles (or “dimensional” shingles). Architectural asphalt shingles can typically last for 25 to 35 years before you’ll need a roof replacement.

Premium or “luxury” shingles can be expected to last from 30 to 45 years, or possibly even a little longer for the absolute best asphalt shingles.

Clay & Concrete Tiles – Average Lifespan

Tile roofs have a longer roof life expectancy than most other types of roofing. Concrete tile roofs will generally last anywhere from 40 to 100 years, depending on the usual factors (see below).

Clay tile roofs can be expected to last 50 years at the very least and high-quality clay tiles can last up to 150 years or more if they’re treated right.

Metal Roofing – Average Lifespan

There is a wide range of different metals, different panel types, different panel thicknesses, and different installation methods for metal roofing.

All of these play a role in the lifespan of a metal roof. But very, very generally, aluminum roofs will last 50 to 80 years, copper roofs will last 90 to 150 years, and steel roofs will last 40 to 60 years.

Single-Ply Membranes – Average Lifespan

There is a very wide range of materials (EPDM, PVC, TPO), attachment methods, and material thicknesses involved in single-ply roof systems, and these are the main factors that determine the lifespan of a single-ply roof.

But generally, a 45-mil single ply will last from 15 to 30 years, a 60-mil single-ply will last from 20 to 35 years, and a 90-mil single-ply will last from 25 to 40 years.

Slate Roofs – Average Lifespan

Slate shingles make the longest-lasting roofs, hands-down. Slate roofs can last over 200 years with proper care and a little luck. It’s also the most expensive roofing material, but a nice slate roof has a lot going for it.

Generally, you can count on an S1-grade slate roof lasting 100 – 200 years.

Wood Shingles & Shakes – Average Lifespan

The lifespan of cedar shingles and shakes depends in large part on how thick the shingles or shakes are.

But you can typically expect wood shingles to last 25 – 40 years, and wood shakes, which tend to be thicker, can last from 30 to 50 years.

Table of Roof Life Expectancy for All Roofing Materials

The following table provides typical expected useful service life durations for various roofing materials and roof systems.

The values in the table are based on recent developments in roofing materials technology. This table covers current roofing products, so in some cases the expected service life we give will be significantly longer than what can be expected from older products on existing roofs which were installed years ago.

The warranty information is based on actual warranty documents for actual roofing products from actual roofing manufacturers.

Life Expectancy of Roofing Materials and Roof Systems
Roofing Material or System Typical Useful
Service Life
Longest Length of
Manufacturer’s Warranty
Asphalt Shingles: 3-Tab 12 – 25 Years 10 Years
Asphalt Shingles: 3-Tab, Premium 20 – 35 Years 20 Years
Asphalt Shingles: Architectural (Laminated) 25 – 40 Years 25 Years
Asphalt Shingles: Architectural (Laminated), Premium 35 – 50 Years 50 Years
Built-Up Roof: Asphalt, 3-Ply 15 – 20 Years 10 Years
Built-Up Roof: Asphalt, 4-Ply 20 – 25 Years 15 Years
Built-Up Roof: Coal Tar Pitch, 4-Ply 25 – 30 Years 20 Years
Built-Up Roof: Coal Tar Pitch, 5-Ply 30 – 40 Years 25 Years
Clay Tile 50 – 150 Years 75 Years
Concrete Tile 40 – 100 Years 50 Years
EPDM Membrane: 45-mil Ballasted 15 – 25 Years 10 Years
EPDM Membrane: 45-mil Fully-Adhered 20 – 30 Years 15 Years
EPDM Membrane: 45-mil Mechanically-Attached 15 – 25 Years 10 Years
EPDM Membrane: 60-mil Ballasted 20 – 30 Years 15 Years
EPDM Membrane: 60-mil Fully-Adhered 25 – 35 Years 20 Years
EPDM Membrane: 60-mil Mechanically-Attached 20 – 30 Years 15 Years
EPDM Membrane: 75-mil Mechanically-Attached 25 – 35 Years 20 Years
EPDM Membrane: 90-mil Ballasted 25 – 35 Years 20 Years
EPDM Membrane: 90-mil Fully-Adhered 30 – 40 Years 30 Years
Fiber Cement Shingles 30 – 45 Years 25 Years
Metal: Corrugated Steel Panels 30 – 60 Years 30 Years
Metal: Metal Roof Tile Panels, Aluminum 50 – 80 Years 50 Years
Metal: Metal Roof Tile Panels, Steel 40 – 60 Years 30 Years
Metal: Standing Seam, Aluminum 50 – 80 Years 40 Years
Metal: Standing Seam Copper Panels 90 – 150 Years 50 Years
Metal: Standing Seam, Steel 40 – 60 Years 30 Years
Metal: Stone-Coated Steel Panels 50 – 75 Years 50 Years
Metal: Structural Metal Panels, Aluminum 50 – 70 Years 30 Years
Metal: Structural Metal Panels, Steel 40 – 60 Years 25 Years
Modified Bitumen: APP Modified, 2-Ply 15 – 25 Years 15 Years
Modified Bitumen: APP Modified, 3-Ply 20 – 30 Years 20 Years
Modified Bitumen: SBS Modified, 2-Ply 15 – 25 Years 15 Years
Modified Bitumen: SBS Modified, 3-Ply 20 – 30 Years 20 Years
PVC Membrane: 60-mil Fully-Adhered 25 – 35 Years 20 Years
PVC Membrane: 80-mil Fully-Adhered 30 – 40 Years 25 Years
PVC Membrane: 60-mil Mechanically-Attached 20 – 30 Years 15 Years
PVC Membrane: 80-mil Mechanically-Attached 25 – 35 Years 20 Years
Roll Roofing, Asphalt 5 – 15 Years NA
Slate Roofing: Hard Slate (S-1 Grade) 100 – 200 Years 100 Years
Slate Roofing: Soft Slate (S-2 Grade) 50 – 100 Years 40 Years
Spray Polyurethane Foam 20 – 30 Years 20 Years
Synthetic (Composite, Plastic)
Shingles, Slates, or Tiles
40 – 60 Years 40 Years
Thatch 30 – 45 Years NA
TPO Membrane: 60-mil Fully-Adhered 20 – 30 Years 20 Years
TPO Membrane: 80-mil Fully-Adhered 25 – 35 Years 25 Years
TPO Membrane: 60-mil Mechanically-Attached 15 – 25 Years 15 Years
TPO Membrane: 80-mil Mechanically-Attached 20 – 30 Years 20 Years
Wood Shakes, Western Red Cedar 30 – 50 Years 25 Years
Wood Shingles, Western Red Cedar 25 – 40 Years 20 Years

Factors That Determine Roof Lifespan

A roof’s lifespan is not something you can predict with absolute certainty. There are many factors that go into the actual length of the useful service life of a roof.

Roofing Material Type and Quality

The type of roofing material selected for the roof will set a general limit on the roof’s life expectancy. Some materials simply last longer than others, and all materials have their own design life expectancy.

The quality of the materials and the reliability of the manufacturer is also very important when it comes to actually reaching that design life expectancy.

Workmanship or Installation Quality

Workmanship, or the quality of the installation, plays a huge part in the life expectancy of a roof system. Roofs that are installed improperly have been known to fail immediately after installation. Seam failure, massive leaking, catastrophic wind blow-off, etc.

Even if the workmanship is just slightly below standard, the lifespan of the roof will very likely be shorter than it should be as needless problems develop over the life of the roof.

You can avoid a lot of problems if you have your roof installed by a highly qualified roofing contractor.

Climate or Local Environment

The local environment that the roof will have to endure is also a big piece of it. Even normally long-lasting roofing materials may suffer in coastal regions with high levels of corrosive environmental salt. Almost every common material used in construction tends to deteriorate faster under these conditions.

Many otherwise durable materials don’t perform well in deserts or other sunny climates, with the continual barrage of UV rays.

Asphalt shingles and EPDM rubber roofs should both be expected to last on the low end of the predicted range in a place like El Paso, Texas. Asphalt in general and semi-cured EPDM flashings are two materials in particular that are highly vulnerable to sunlight.

Roof Accessories

The use of proper fasteners and other accessories is crucial to long-term roof performance.

An all-too-common reason for the premature failure of tile roofs, for instance, is the use of low-quality fasteners and battens, which fail long before the tiles themselves would have.

Roof Maintenance Program

Another significant factor, for flat roofs in particular, is the quality of the roof’s maintenance program. If a commercial flat roof has a rigorous maintenance program that includes full inspections twice a year and addresses maintenance issues as soon as they arise, it can last up to 30% longer than the design life of the system.

Material Thickness

All other things being equal, though, it’s the thickness of the material that most affects the expected lifespan of a roof. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the shingle, the panel, the membrane, or the tile, the longer the roof will last.

Length of Roofing Warranties

Material Warranties

The warranty periods given in the table are for typical manufacturer’s material warranties. A material warranty only covers the performance of the roofing material itself (basically, it just covers factory defects, which are very rare these days).

Workmanship Guarantees

The initial workmanship of the roof installation and the performance of other parts of the roof assembly, including the roof deck and any other components not produced by that manufacturer, will not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

Those things will be covered by the roofing contractor’s workmanship guarantee if they are covered at all.

Contractor’s workmanship guarantees last for a much shorter period of time, usually 1 – 5 years.

Limited Lifetime Warranties

Most roofing manufacturers have recently changed their warranties to “limited lifetime” warranties, especially for high-end asphalt shingles.

If you read the fine print, however, you’ll see that the coverage becomes “prorated” after 5 – 20 years.

This means that the manufacturer starts to guarantee less than the full replacement value of the roofing material at that point, and progressively less and less as time goes by.

Roof Lifespan Information on the Internet

Roofing Contractor Websites

I’ve seen dozens of other websites that claim to tell you how long you can expect a roof to last. These are almost all roofing contractor websites and I was amazed at how consistently bad the information was. Almost every single one of these sites claimed that any given type of roofing has an expected lifespan that’s about 20% to 30% shorter than it really is.

I keep seeing claims that architectural shingles will only last 20 years. I actually saw one contractor’s website make a blanket statement that EPDM roofs only last for 12 years, which is completely absurd. Then again, the more often that roofs need to be replaced in general, the more work there is for roofing contractors.

A roofing contractor will make a lot more money replacing old roofs than he will from helping to maintain them and making sure building owners get the longest possible life out of their roofs. You should be aware that roofing contractors often underestimate how long roofs will last because it’s in the contractors’ interest for people to believe they need a new roof sooner than they actually do.

If they can convince you to replace your roof sooner than you have to, that’s good for them, so the bad information makes sense.

As independent roof consultants, part of what we do for a living is predicting roof service life so our clients know when they’ll have to budget for roof replacement expenses. We aren’t roofing contractors, so we don’t get paid to replace roofs.

Professional roof consultants have to know how long a new roof is going to last, and how much life is left in an old roof, in order to serve the best interests of their clients. The expected lifespan of a given type of roof is a prime factor in how we advise our clients regarding roof repairs, roof rehabilitation, and roof replacement.

We’re very familiar with the lifespans of the different types of roofing materials in use today. We thought we’d share some helpful information on roof life expectancy here on our website.

About the Author

Jack Gray is a principal roof consultant and vice president at the Moriarty Corporation, an award-winning building enclosure consultant firm founded in 1967. He is also the editor of the Roof Online website.

Mr. Gray has worked in the roofing industry for over 25 years, with training and practical experience in roof installation, roof inspection, roof safety, roof condition assessment, construction estimating, roof design & specification, quality assurance, roof maintenance & repair, and roof asset management.

He was awarded the Registered Roof Observer (RRO) professional credential in 2009.

He also served as an infantry paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and has a B.A. from Cornell University. Read full bio.

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