A Guide to Common Roof Materials' Lifespans

A Guide to Common Roof Materials’ Lifespans

Different roofing types have different life spans. This is true for residential and commercial roof types. When you replace your roof or install a new one, you should definitely factor a residential or commercial roofing system’s lifespan into your decision. Why? Because the type of roofing material you choose will impact how long it can protect your commercial building or your home. Some materials will last a decade or two when installed on a roof, while others can last a century or more.

Residential Roofing Types

Asphalt Roll Roofs

Asphalt roll roofs are the cheapest type of residential roof to install. The installer lays asphalt strips lengthwise in an overlapping pattern on a relatively flat pitch, like a flat or slightly sloped shed or garage roof. This type of roofing system is extremely easy to install, and it’s popular with DIY enthusiasts, but it has the shortest lifespan of all the residential roofing systems listed here—it lasts five to 10 years before it needs replacement. It’s best for garage or shed roofs, but not for a roofing system that covers the entire house.

Lifespan: 5-10 years

Built-Up Roofs (BUR)

Built-up roofing systems are another type of flat roof, but this type is more durable than an asphalt roll roof. They are installed in layers of different materials, including roofing felt, waterproof, and bitumen, which is hot tar. The installation process is messy, but it’s an inexpensive roof system that lasts longer than an asphalt roll roof.

Lifespan: 20-30 years

Asphalt Shingle Roofs

Asphalt shingle roofs are one of the most popular roofing systems in the U.S. because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and fairly durable. They are often made of a composite of asphalt and fiberglass, with an exposed surface embedded with small slate, schist, ceramic, or quartz granule chips. They can last anywhere from 15 years up to 40 or 50 years, depending on the quality of the materials used.

Lifespan: 15-40 years; 50 years is possible

Architectural Shingle Roofs

Architectural shingles are similar to asphalt shingles, since they’re both made of recyclable materials, but they are made with newer technologies that add an extra layer for increased durability and added curb appeal. While they are more expensive to install than asphalt shingles, architectural roof shingles can maintain and even increase your home’s property value. They have an average lifespan of about 30 years.

Lifespan: Approximately 30 years

Wood Shake Roofs

Wood shakes are thicker than wood shingles, and they are more durable when exposed to UV rays and extreme weather. Frederic Roofing installs cedar shake roofing systems that turn silver-gray as they age and provide natural insulation that reduces heat loss in the winter and eases the cooling process in the summer. While they are a durable roofing material, they do require careful maintenance. Remove any debris from your wood shake roof as soon as you spot it, and replace any split or broken shakes as quickly as possible. With proper maintenance, a wood shake roof can last for 35-40 years. Our cedar shake roofs have a more specific lifespan of 25-35 years.

Lifespan: 35-40 years; cedar shakes, 25-35 years

Tile Roofs

Tile roofing systems are usually made from clay, cement, or terra cotta, and they are extremely durable. Clay tile roofs can last for up to 100 years, but you must limit foot traffic on it and replace cracked tiles as soon as you spot them. Their cost can vary depending on the type and quality of the materials used, but they are a solid investment with proven weather and fire resistance.

Lifespan: Up to 100 years

Slate Roofs

Slate roofing systems are extremely durable and long-lasting. They are made of slate slabs that do not absorb moisture. They also do not attract algae, fungi, or mold. Compared to other roofing systems on this list, slate roofs are relatively low-maintenance. When installed and maintained properly, a slate roof can last for 100 years or more. However, they are the most expensive roof type listed here, so installing a slate roof will be a major investment.

Lifespan: 100 years or more

Synthetic Slate Roofs

Synthetic slate roofs offer the benefits of slate roofs at a much lower cost, and they offer additional benefits. For instance, they are a green, energy efficient alternative to slate because synthetic slate materials can be recycled at the end of the roof’s life cycle. They also have UV inhibitors embedded in them to reduce sun damage, and they are lighter and easier to transport than traditional slate slabs. Like slate roofs, synthetic slate roofs can last for about 100 years.

Lifespan: Up to 100 years

Commercial Roofing Types

EPDM Roofs

EPDM roofing systems consist of an extremely durable rubber roofing membrane. They come in several thickness options, and they can be installed in a single piece, giving them few seams that could be affected by water damage. However, with EPDM roofs, the seams often become damaged before the roof membrane does. These commercial roofs have a lifespan of about 12-15 years.

Lifespan: 12-15 years

TPO Roofs

TPO roofs are similar, and yet opposite, to EPDM roofs. They are flat roofs with relatively few seams, but the membrane is more likely to sustain damage before the seams do. This is because TPO roofing seams are fused together. They are environmentally sustainable and energy efficient, and they are made of a thin, single-ply membrane made to resist punctures, impacts, and mold growth. Additionally, TPO roofs are simple to install and cost-effective. They have a 15-year lifespan.

Lifespan: Approximately 15 years

Commercial Shingle Roofs

Shingles are best for commercial sloped roofs, and they require similar installation and maintenance to residential shingle roofs. One major problem you should look for with this type of roof is curled, buckled, or missing shingles. They provide solid insulation from weather, and they have a lifespan of 15-25 years.

Lifespan: 15-25 years

Call Frederic Roofing for Expert Roof Installation

If you are interested in having any of these roof types installed, contact us today. We have been serving the St. Louis area since 1929, so we have the knowledge and experience to help homeowners and building owners determine which type of roof will best fit their structures.

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