How Long Does A Roof Last?

Kenneth Wilson

“How long does a roof last?” is often asked when considering the safety and cost implications for a new or existing building. Maybe you need to replace one type of roof with a different one and you want to compare the lifespans of different roof types. These practical questions of how long a roof will last need no-nonsense answers.

A residential roof can last between 20-50 years depending on the kind of roof: An asphalt or composition/shingle roof about 20 yearsfiber cement shingles about 25 yearswood shake roofs about 30 yearsrubber roofs about 40 years; slate, copper and tile roofs usually more than 50 years.

Because a roof is such an integral part of a building, how long it will last has a knock-on effect for the rest of the building. However, there are many different types of roofs, and many factors that will determine how long a roof will last. Comparing different roof types, availability of materials, best conditions for each type of roof, and how long each will roughly last will help in deciding which roof is best suited for your needs.

The Average Lifespan of a Roof by Type

The average number of years a roof will last assumes that it is well maintained and cared for throughout its life. Poorly maintained roofs can be expected to have a shorter lifespan.

The following table is a guide to the average number of years a roof will last if there are no major natural disasters (hurricanes, tropical damage, extreme weather, etc.). This is only a guideline and also depends on the quality of installation, maintenance, and other factors. Not all types of roofs are listed here, but this list should give you a good idea of how long the most common types of roofs will last. 

Type of Roof

The average number of years the roof will last (ascending order)

Shingle Roofs

Asphalt shingle (Three-Tab Shingles)

10-20 years

Asphalt shingle (Composition)

15-25 years

Asphalt shingle (Architectural/Dimensional)

15-25 years

Asphalt shingle (Premium)

20-30 years

Fiber Cement Shingle

20-30 years

Cedar Shake Shingle

30-40 years

Other Roofs


+-40 years (heat/sunlight dependent)


40-50+ years

Tile (Clay/Stone coated)

30-50 years (weather dependent)

Metal Roofs

Metal (Ribbed system)

25-40 years

Metal (Tin)

50+ years

Metal (Standing Seam Stainless Steel/Copper/Zinc)

50+ years

Metal (Shingles)

50+ years

Approximately 80% of newly built homes in the U.S. are being constructed with asphalt shingled roofs, making it one of the most common types of roof. Due to the availability of shingles, this may be a good option even though this type of roof will not last as long. 

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of your Roof

Several factors impact how long a roof will last. The biggest factor, however, is the materials used, but installation and environment play a part in how long your roof will last too. 

  • The roof type and material used – Even when properly maintained, slate will last longer than three-tab or wooden shingles because the material for each has different durability and natural lifespan. 
  • The quality of the roofing materials used – For instance, the thickness and durability of Premium Asphalt Shingles are better than that of Composite Asphalt Shingles and will likely last longer. Cheaper materials are often less expensive but may need replacing more regularly.
  • The quality of workmanship at installation – Good quality materials installed incorrectly may result in unintended damage to the materials or roof. Some types of roofs require specialist installation that usually only comes with experience. For a roof to last beyond the expected lifespan, first, it must be installed properly. 
  • Environmental conditions – Extreme temperatures, high winds, falling debris, and snow can affect how long a roof will last. For instance, an asphalt shingle roof in an area with longer periods of strong sunlight like southern California, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, or Arizona, will often have a shorter lifespan than other areas like the Midwest or Northeast. 
  • The color of the roof/materials – It is not always the case that the color of the roof or materials will negatively affect how long a roof will last, but in some climates, the color may reduce a roof’s life expectancy. Dark products absorb more heat from the sun, so in climates with higher levels of direct sunlight, lighter materials are recommended. Materials that overheat are more likely to experience wear and tear, while also making ventilating the roof more difficult. 
  • The slope of the roof – Proper roof drainage is affected by the pitch of your roof. A roof with poor drainage may require more frequent repairs. Flat roofs and roofs with low slants need more regular checks for water accumulation. Water accumulation could result in mold and fungus growth, rotting wood, or other serious damage. These can lead to roof leaks which further compounds the problem. 
  • Proper ventilation – Appropriate ventilation methods in your roof will increase how long a roof last. A consistent temperature in the roof means the materials are less likely to shift or crack under pressure. In higher temperature climates good ventilation can mean the difference between tiles and shingles cracking and staying whole. Ventilation may reduce the risk of overheating or freezing, also reducing the risk of costly damages. Proper ventilation should be addressed during installation, reiterating the need for quality workmanship at installation.

How Often Should You Inspect Your Roof?

A big factor in increasing the lifespan of a roof is catching problems or faults early. A roof should be inspected after any major weather storm to ensure nothing has been damaged. In addition to this a comprehensive annual roof inspection – consider this yearly physical for the roof – is highly advised to check its condition, check for leaks, and repair any defects.

How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Roof

To ensure the safety and longevity of your roof make sure to schedule roof maintenance and inspections on a regular basis. These inspections should be performed by roofing professionals or contractors. These professionals have the experience to identify issues that may not be clear to the untrained eye and will usually spot areas of concern before they become a problem. By regular checks and performing roof repairs, you can extend your roof’s lifespan by many years. (Related: How Long Does A Roof Last In Florida? A Practical Guide)


A well-installed roof made of good quality material will last for many decades. Choosing the best type of roof for your needs, as well as what is most easily available in your area will also help increase the lifespan of a roof. Environmental conditions are a big factor in how long a roof will last and the climate and area the roof is installed in will partly determine part of the lifespan as well, but regular checks and maintenance will increase how long a roof lasts by many years.

Kenneth Wilson
October 17, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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