How Long Does a Roof Last? • Roof Lifespan for 49 Roof Types
With the Typical Warranty Period for Each Type of Roof
By Jack Gray, Roof Online Editor • Updated February 13, 2023
Table of Contents
- Introduction: How Long Does a Roof Last?
- About This Roof Lifespan Chart
- Table: Roof Life Expectancy by Roofing Material
- Factors That Determine Roof Lifespan
- Length of Roofing Warranties
- Related Pages
Introduction: How Long Does a Roof Last?
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.
It’s a pretty important piece of information, and 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.
Most roofs will last between 20 and 40 years before they need to be replaced. How long a roof will last depends on the roof, of course.
We’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 we were 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. We 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. It’s in the contractors’ interest for the public to believe they need to replace their roofs more often than they actually do.
The bad information makes sense.
Anyway, because of what we do for a living, we’re very familiar with the lifespans of the different types of roofing materials in use today, and we thought we’d share some helpful information on roof life expectancy here on our website.
A roof’s life expectancy always depends on how well the roof was installed in the first place, the type of roofing material used, the thickness and quality of the roofing materials, the roof’s maintenance history, and the local climate.
A high-quality asphalt shingle roof typically lasts around 30 years these days. Copper, clay tile, and slate roofs can last over 100 years. The latest generation of flat roof membranes last around 30 years with proper maintenance.
How long does a roof last? See our chart below, and keep reading to learn more about roof life expectancy.
About This Roof Lifespan Chart
The following table provides typical expected useful service life durations for various roofing materials and roof systems.
The values for the expected roof lifespans 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 was taken from actual warranty documents for actual roofing products from actual roofing manufacturers. These aren’t guesses.
Table: Roof Life Expectancy by Roofing Material
|Life Expectancy of Roofing Materials and Roof Systems|
|Roofing Material or System||Typical Useful
|Longest Length of
|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||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
There are many factors that go into predicting the length of the useful service life of a roof.
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 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 slightly subpar, the lifespan of the roof will very likely be shorter than it should be as needless problems develop over the life of the roof.
The local environment that the roof will have to endure is also a big piece of it. Roofing materials in coastal regions, with high levels of corrosive environmental salt, tend to deteriorate faster, for instance.
Many types of roof don’t perform well in deserts, with the continual barrage of UV rays. (Asphalt and EPDM rubber 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 EPDM flashing material are both highly vulnerable to sunlight.)
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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 over 25 years of experience in the roofing industry, with training and practical experience in roof safety, roof inspection, roof condition assessment, estimating, roof design & specification, roof installation, 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 attended Cornell University. Read full bio.