Roof Life Expectancy Guide: Which roof type lasts the longest?

Since replacing your roof is one of the biggest, costliest improvements you’ll make to your home, picking a roofing material that will last a long time is crucial to make the most of your investment. The life expectancy of your roof depends on both the materials you choose and on the natural elements it must endure. Hail, heat, wind and ice can shorten the life of a roof or create a need for repairs, especially on more inexpensive roofing materials.

We can’t always predict the weather that our roofs will endure during their lifetime, but we can use what we know about the different materials to give us a gauge to how long a certain type of roof will last. In general, the more expensive and more durable the materials, the longer they last.

Here’s a Roof Life Expectancy Guide to use to know if the roof you want is the roof that will serve your needs for the longest period of time.

Roof life expectancy: Asphalt and fiberglass shingles

20-40 years
The overwhelming majority of single-family homes in the United States chose asphalt shingles for their roof. That’s because they are cost-effective, durable and stand up well to the elements. This affordable roofing option still provides excellent coverage and protection while being fairly durable under weather conditions, even if it only tends to last about 20-25 years.

However, at the lowest price point of all roofing options, it is asphalt’s affordability while being durable that makes it the No. 1 seller year after year.

Asphalt’s cousin, fiberglass shingles, typically can last closer to 40 years before full replacement. But, that added durability comes at a slightly increased cost.

Roof life expectancy: Shake and wood shingles

25-40 years
Wood shakes and shingles give a warm, cottage feel to any house as they naturally age and grey with time. Wood shakes are attractive on any home, but some styles like a Tudor or cottage-inspired home would look out of place without them. Most wood shingles will last close to 40 years, and roof warranties for wood roofs also last for more years than an asphalt roof. Of course, with that longer warranty and life expectancy, expect a higher price. Wood shingles run about twice as much as their asphalt counterparts.

Roof life expectancy: Metal roofs

Up to 70 years
Metal roofs have increased significantly in popularity in the last decade or so as people discover both the attractiveness of metal roofs and their increased durability. Count on your metal roof to last upwards of 70 years without needing to be replaced. However, be careful of the materials you choose to use for your metal roof. If you select a thinner, less expensive metal roof, it may only last as long as an asphalt roof would last – 20-25 years. Use as thick of a metal gauge as you can afford to increase the durability to around 70 years.

Roof life expectancy: Copper roofs

More than 70 years
Along with a long life expectancy, copper roofs also don’t need a lot of upkeep or maintenance. After a few decades, the copper color will start to patina or change to a green color. Many homeowners desire this patination of the roof, but roofers can clean the copper if needed as it ages. Of course, an all-copper roof will cost you at least double that of a traditional roof, but they will almost assuredly be the only roof you need while you own the home.

Roof life expectancy: Slate tile roofs

More than 100 years
If you are looking for a roof material that will take your home into the pages of history, install a slate roof. This roof will last you more than a century, although it might also take that long for you to pay for it. Slate roofs are about 5-to-15 times more costly than asphalt roofs. And, since they are slate rock, slate roofs are extremely heavy. Roofing supports must be bolstered to account for the additional weight and strain of the slack tiles.

Want to find out how else you can make your roof last longer? Read Top ways to extend the life of your roof.