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How Long Does a Roof Last [Homeowners Guide]

brick college house with a old asphalt roof

When you look around your home and make a list of the house projects you want to get done, it probably includes doing a little painting, maybe buying a new couch, or maybe even springing for one of those nice farmhouse sinks.

What’s probably not on there? A new roof.

Installing a new roof in your home is a project that can make many homeowners feel is overwhelming. We get it. A new roof is a huge undertaking, especially for your budget.

It’s no surprise, then, that buyers are looking to invest in a roof that designs to last. But when it comes to balancing budget and longevity, which one wins?

Today, we’ll be helping you answer the following questions:

  • How long does a roof last?
  • What roofing materials have the best longevity?
  • How do I find a contractor who is right for me?

Roof Repairs Vs. Roof Replacement

roof tiles ready to be replaced on wood structure

Here’s the good news:

A damaged roof does not necessarily require a full roof replacement. While the average person may use the phrases “roof repair” and “replacement” interchangeably, they are distinctly different services, both in the project scope and the amount of money.

If your roof is showing minor signs of damage, you may be able to get away with a simple roof repair. Look for these key differences to know which one is right for you.

Signs You Need a Roof Repair

  • Your Roof Is Relatively New – While the life expectancy of a roof will vary widely depending on the materials chosen if a roof is still within its expected lifespan, it is a good candidate for roof repairs.
  • Minor Damage – Things like dents, cracks, or missing shingles can indicate a larger problem. However, if the roof deck is intact and this is a one-off issue caused by extreme weather, you will likely be able to repair just the damaged area.
  • Small Leaks – Roof leaks can indicate a large problem, but often they can be traced back to a specific area and issue that can be solved with a simple repair.

Signs You Need a Roof Replacement

  • Reoccurring Roof Leaks – While a single roof leak may not be cause for major concern, if roof leaks are a reoccurring problem in your life, you may need a new roof.
  • Damaged Roof Deck – A roof deck is the foundational layer of your roof. When it becomes damaged from water damage, not only can it no longer effectively protect your home, but it also becomes at risk of collapse.
  • Age – All roofs have a life expectancy that changes depending on the materials that you choose. If you are dealing with roofing issues and your roof is on the older side, it may be time to think about a roof replacement.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

Speaking of the life expectancy of a roof, how long DOES a roof last, anyway? The answer is more complicated than you think.

There are a wide variety of factors that can affect the longevity of your roof, including:

  • How well it is maintained
  • The climate that you live in
  • The roofing materials that you choose
  • How well it was installed

All of these things considered, most roofing materials will last you between 20-50 years. However, the most important factor is the material that you choose.

Roof Life Expectancy by Material

Choosing a roofing style can feel intimidating. That’s why we’ve broken down the most popular roofing materials on the market, as well as how long you can expect them to last.

Asphalt Shingles

We’re going to take a guess and say that your roof has asphalt shingles on it. Or if it doesn’t, then you’ve lived in a home that does at some point in your life. Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material on the market and are known for their affordability and versatility.

Despite all that, they also have one of the shortest lifespans on this list. On average, asphalt shingles only last for 15-20 years.

Wood Shingles

When it comes to creating a beautiful exterior, there are few things we like more than a roof covered in rustic-looking wood shingles. Whether you choose to purchase them in shingle or shake form, a wood roof is a great way to add character and charm.

While wood shingles typically last for 20-30 years, a lot depends on proper maintenance. In fact, a wood roof is one of the most maintenance-heavy roofs and requires care in order to prevent rotting and pest infestations.

Metal Roofs

roofer installing metal sheets on the roof using nail gun

Metal roofs have historically been used only on commercial buildings or smaller structures like sheds and barns. However, more and more people are turning to metal roofs for residential use. It’s not hard to see why! Metal roofs can last for 50 years before needing a replacement. They are hugely durable, fire resistant, and require little to no maintenance. However, be prepared for a hefty price tag to come along with your new roof.

Slate Tiles

Slate roofing is not widely used in modern homes, despite the fact that it is one of the oldest roofing options on this list. It’s too bad because slate roofs come with a wide range of benefits, including their impressive life span. A slate roof can last for over 100 years before needing to be replaced!

Clay Tiles

Typically, clay tile roofs are seen in the warmer states, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have them as part of your home! And why wouldn’t you, when they last for 50 years? Not only that, but they are very beautiful, energy-efficient, and fire-resistant. It’s important to note, though, that they don’t stand up particularly well to impact damage from things like hail.

Synthetic Roofs

Synthetic roofing materials are a go-to choice for homeowners who love the look of high-end materials such as wood and slate but aren’t sure about the upkeep or the price tags attached. You’ll typically find that these roofs don’t last quite as long as the ones made from natural materials, but you will still get a respectable 30-50 years out of most synthetic shingles.

Tips for Roof Maintenance

If your goal is to have a roof that lasts, maintenance is a key factor. Despite the fact that we all have a roof, not everyone knows how to take care of it. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here are our favorite tips to keep your roof looking as good as new.

  • Regular Inspections – There is no one better to check on your roof than a professional roofing contractor! A trained roofer will know exactly what to look for and can help you to make sure that your roof is in good shape. We recommend scheduling an annual inspection with a qualified contractor.
  • Keep the Roof Clear – Many of us forget about the debris that can gather on our roofs throughout the year. However, this is dangerous and can cause serious problems for your roof. A roof is designed to promote the optimal flow of water away from your home. Leaving leaves, twigs, and other debris to pile up can block this flow and result in severe water damage.
  • Gutters, Too! – The same rule applies to your home’s gutters, which are prone to blockages if not properly cleaned. We recommend cleaning your gutters at least twice a year. Ideally, once at the end of fall and again during the springtime.
  • Trim Your Trees – Tree branches can easily fall onto your roof and cause impact damage. If you aren’t interested in replacing shingles, it’s a good idea to regularly trim any trees that hang above your roofline.

What to Look For in a Roofing Contractor

contractor talking to the roofers in construction site

One of the most stressful parts of dealing with a damaged roof is knowing which contractor to hire. After all, with seemingly endless choices, it can be hard to know which ones are legitimate and which ones to stay away from.

One of the most important things when it comes to hiring a roofing contractor is to make sure that they are licensed. This is the best way to determine whether or not a company is legitimate. A quality company will be willing to provide you with documentation of both their license and insurance.

A great way to choose a roofing contractor is to look at reviews. Google reviews help you get a sense of the true customer experience. We also recommend asking your neighbors for their advice. They will likely have recommendations on who to work with and who to stay away from.

Work With the Best!

Ready to get a roof that will stand the test of time? Anchor Point Roofing can help! Our team is the go-to choice for Illinois residents looking for exceptional customer service and reliable installation. Contact us today to receive your free quote!

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