Comparing Lifespans for 7 Common Roofing Materials

Selecting the right kind of roofing material for your home or business is a big decision.

Choosing a material that is too inexpensive could lead to bigger issues down the line, while other materials might reach the confines of your budget far too quickly.

Furthermore, the natural conditions of where you live might play a big factor in the type of material you select.

Of course, you want to be able to get as much bang for your buck as possible by choosing the right materials for your needs.

Here is a quick guide to the lifespans of seven of the most common roofing materials.

#1: Asphalt Roll Roofing

Asphalt roll roofing is one of the most common types of roofing.

Made from the same material as asphalt shingles, it comes in large rolls and is typically used on areas with relatively flat pitches.

While it is a bit on the inexpensive side, it isn’t always ideal for homes and businesses that need an added layer of protection.

Instead, it is usually best for storage sheds, porches, and other less important structures.

Furthermore, it is one of the easiest to install yourself and might not require a professional roofing company.

The typical lifespan of this type of roofing is between five and ten years.

In some cases, it is possible to extend this timeframe by keeping the roof free from debris and patching any holes that happen in a timely fashion

If you live in an area that is prone to hail, you might only get the minimum number of years depending on what Mother Nature offers during that time frame.

#2: Built-Up Roofing

Built-up roofing (BUR) involves a process of layering felt paper, fiberglass, and hot tar in a specific order to help create a moisture barrier level.

The benefits of this type of roofing are that it is fire-resistant and affordable, but it can be extremely messy and smell terrible during installation, which is a big turnoff to many people.

It is commonly used on flat surfaces, such as the top of commercial buildings.

This type of material typically has a lifespan of around twenty to thirty years.

Again, this is just an estimate that assumes the roof is being inspected annually and any small repairs are being made along the way.

It is also highly prone to water leaks, so it is important to have it checked out periodically by a professional.

#3: Composite Shingle Roofing

Next is composite shingle roofing.

This is the most common type of material found on American homes and is made from a fiberglass base that is saturated with asphalt and then coated with slate, quartz, or ceramic granules.

These roofs are popular due to their durability, moderate cost, and ease of installation.

The overall lifespan of composite shingles largely depends on the rating of the material itself.

There are shingles rated for ten years, twenty years, and even longer.

A composite shingle roof that has been well maintained can last as long as forty years, which is incredible if you consider that most homeowners don’t usually stay at a single property for that long.


#4: Wood Shingle and Shake Roofing

There are actually two types of wood shingle roofing: wood shingle and wood shake.

The basic difference between the two is the thickness of the wooden pieces used.

Shake is typically a bit thicker than the shingle, which creates a better UV-protection barrier.

This is not the most popular type of roofing, as it requires consistent care and is even banned in areas prone to wildfires.

It also requires professional installation, which not all homeowners like.

The upside of wood roofing is the lifespan.

Typically, this ranges from twenty years to even up to fifty, depending on the amount of care given.

Again, areas that get yearly brush fires aren’t usually good candidates for this type of roofing and those in the path of severe storms shouldn’t use it, either.

#5: Metal Roofing

Another option is metal roofing.

Standing-seam metal roofs can be made from a variety of different materials including aluminum, steel, zinc, or copper.

They are popular in areas prone to storms and most homeowner’s insurance providers offer a discount as they do not burn.

The biggest downside? They can be quite noisy when it rains or hails, which is a big turnoff to some property owners.

The biggest benefit of a metal roof is the overall lifespan of the material.

A strong durability factor allows these roofs to last fifty years or longer depending on weather conditions and care.

While they do cost a bit more than other types, they only need to replace a building’s roof once is a major reason why so many homeowners opt for this choice.

#6: Clay or Cement Tile Roofing

Clay or cement tile roofing is quite popular in many areas of the country, but especially common in the Southwest and in California.

These are arched tiles made from fired terra cotta or cement that are extremely durable

They are laid in a specific pattern that creates a very tough and very strong roofing surface.

The only downside to this type of roof is that it is susceptible to mold, which is why it is most common in dry climates.

Tile roofing can last up to and over one hundred years.

In terms of longevity, it is one of the best options for those who want to make a decision and stick with it for the long haul.

However, those considering this option need to understand that not all buildings have the structure capable of handling the weight of these tiles and that individual pieces do need repair or replacement every few years.

#7: Slate Roofing

Slate roofing is literally made from mined pieces of stone that are cut into tile shapes.

This is one of the oldest roofing materials with examples still standing hundreds of years later in Europe.

Many people enjoy the classic look of slate roofing, while others are afraid of the astronomical cost—which can be thousands of dollars more than other roofing options.

However, slate roofing is the best when it comes to longevity.

Slate tiles have been known to last from between a hundred years and much, much longer.

Again, this is assuming there’s no major storm damage and that it is routinely inspected and maintained.

The Bottom Line Factors to Consider

When it comes to roofing, there are two key factors to consider.

First, you want to look at the weather in the area you live in.

If where you live is prone to humidity, storms, wind, or hail, there are certain types of roofing that aren’t ide

You’ll also want to consider how long you plan to own the property.

If you plan on staying for a long period of time, choose a roofing material with a forty to a hundred-year lifespan.

Planning to sell?

Something under twenty years might be acceptable for your needs.

Choosing the right type of roofing doesn’t have to be difficult.

Use this guide to help learn the approximate lifespans and benefits of roofing types and select one that best meets your needs accordingly.


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