The useful life of roofing materials varies widely. The list below contains information about the average expected life of many different types of roofs.
The following materials are most commonly used on homes and buildings constructed with sloped roofs.
Three basic types of metal roofing exist; standing seam, flat seam, and metal shingles. Standing and flat seam metal roofing consist of long ridged metal sheets that are fastened to the roof decking. Metal shingles are smaller metal panels that interlock and may be made to look like wood, slate, tile or standard shingles. The average expected life of a metal roof is between 30 and 50 years, although a well maintained metal roof may last longer than 50 years. If your roof is made out of copper or aluminum, performance of more than 75 years is not uncommon.
Asphalt Shingle Roofing
Asphalt shingles are made by coating a fiber or fiberglass base with asphalt and then applying weather-resistant granulated stone to the surface. The life of an asphalt shingle roof depends upon the thickness of the shingles, the roof pitch, and the climate extremes that impact the roof; but is generally from 12 to 30 years.
Manufactured in the same way as asphalt shingles, roll roofing consists of long narrow sheets instead of rectangular shingles. Roll roofing has a shorter life, approximately 8 to 10 years, because it is thinner than standard asphalt shingles.
Slate is a natural stone that has been used as a roofing material for centuries. Slate is excellent for use on roofs because it is impervious to water and splits easily into thin layers. The life of a slate roof depends on the type of slate used and where the stone was quarried. On average, slate roofs can last from 75 to 200 years.
Wood Shingles and Shakes Roofing
Although wood is rarely used as a roofing material today, a well-maintained wood roof can last 20 to 60 years. Poorly installed and maintained wood roofs are subject to cracking, shrinkage, or cupping of the shingles and will fail in a much shorter period of time.
Clay Tile Roofing
Clay and concrete tiles are manufactured in a variety of shapes, colors and styles. The tiles are overlapped or locked together and attached to the roof decking. Tile roofs have a life of up to 100 years and have been shown to withstand hurricane force winds. The limiting factor in tile roof installations is the roof’s underlayment, which can last 10-20 years depending on the quality of the installation, how well the roof is maintained, and the weather conditions in your area.
Flat-roofed buildings, including most commercial structures, employ different roofing materials than those used for sloped roofs. The following are the most common types of flat roofing materials.
Foam roofing has gained popularity over the last 30 years. Foam roofs last around 10 – 15 years. Their affordability and insulating nature help make this a more serious option for homeowners. If the foam is recoated every 5-10 years, a foam roof can last up to twice as long.
Built Up Roofing (BUR)
Built up roofing consists of several layers of industrial fabric or paper that is coated with asphalt or coal tar to seal out moisture and then covered with a crushed stone or gravel material. Depending upon the materials used in construction, built up roofs generally last between 20 and 30 years.
Thermoplastic Polyolefin Roofing (TPO)
TPO roofing is a durable polymer-based material that can be attached to the roof decking in several ways. It can be glued, attached with screws, or other fasteners, or laid down and covered with gravel or another material to keep it in place. A TPO roof lasts between 10 and 20 years.
Other Single Ply Roofing Materials
Other types of single ply roofing may be made of synthetic rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that is laid over an insulating material. Crushed stone or aggregate might be placed on top as ballast. These types of roofing systems have a life expectancy of between 20 and 35 years.