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

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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.

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
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 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, Roof Online Editor

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.