How long does a roof last? Many homeowners grapple with that question. In most cases, they don’t answer and will look for a leak to signal it’s time to consider a roof replacement in Raleigh, NC.

Multiple factors determine a roof’s longevity. In this article, we’ll explore various roofing materials, their average lifespan, what a typical roofing system consists of, and factors that affect a roof’s lifespan.

Understanding the Whole Roof System

A roof contains more than shingles. It is a system of parts that work together to provide the best protection from external elements.

  • Ventilation allows for proper airflow that regulates the temperature and moisture levels.
  • Shingles are the outer covering of the roof system. They provide attractiveness and protect the underlying parts from external elements.
  • Flashing is used in conjunction with the ventilation system. It is a strip of material that is found where a vertical wall, such as a chimney, meets the roof.
  • Underlayment ensures the deck remains dry during shingle installation or repair.
  • Ice and water barrier is a form of underlayment to prevent or minimize the effects of ice damming.
  • The drip edge allows rainwater to fall away from the house by guiding it off the eaves.
  • The deck is the roofing structure that supports the above layers.

Types of Roofing Systems

The roofing material used will determine how long the roofing system will live. Therefore, knowing the average lifespan and the cost of diverse materials will provide the best decision before dipping your hand in your pocket.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roof in the United States. This is because they are affordable for most homeowners—about $70 to $150 per square foot. That said, the roof’s cost is proportional to its quality.

In this case, expect to replace an asphalt shingle roof more often – typically 10 to 20 years after installation.

If you live in areas that experience sudden temperature changes and intense sunlight, such as Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Arizona, this duration will significantly diminish, leading to premature failure.

Architectural Shingles

Consider installing architectural shingles to get the most out of a shingle roof. This roofing system protects from external elements for 15 to 25 years.

Keep in mind that the environment will affect lifespan. Furthermore, to get such quality, prepare to dig deeper into your pocket—$250 to $400 per square.

Wood Shingle Roof

Also known as shakes, wood shingles last 25 to 30 years. However, if you practice the best roof management, you can expect up to 40 years.

The most common wood used is cedar because it’s durable. Moreover, it has a silvery gray look as the wood weathers, giving your house excellent aesthetics.

While it gets credit for durability, cedar isn’t rot-resistant. Therefore, moisture levels will play a significant role in the overall cycle. For this type of roof, avoid areas with numerous debris and mild weather conditions. A wood shingle costs about $250 to $600 per square.

Clay Tile roofs

If you’re looking for a roof that will outlive you, look no further than clay tile roofs. These roofs can last up to 150 years. This is possible because the tiles are made from concrete or terracotta clay and installed in interlocking layers.

These materials are decay—and rot-resistant, which means you’ll pay more currency—about $600 to $800 per square.

With so many pros, clay tile roofs are heavy, which can damage your roof. It would be best if you also contracted an expert roofer to install the tiles.

Metal roofs

Metal roofs continue to grow in popularity among homeowners. The main reason is their longevity. On average, anticipate a typical metal roof to last between 30 to 100 years, depending on the metal type.

  • The Standing Seam metal roofing system is the most common and withstands between 30 and 50 years.
  • Metal shingles are also popular but are up to 30 percent less expensive than standing seams and have similar durability.
  • Stone-coated steel tiles are prevalent in Florida and are an alternative to traditional tiles and shingles. The most significant advantage is that they are not too heavy.
  • Ribbed metal panels will last up to 50 years with expert installation. However, go for Kynar 500-coated metal panels instead of acrylic to avoid discoloration and peeling paint.

The price starts at $115 per square and can go up to $900 per square.

Composite Roof

These are a shortcut to achieving similar looks to a cedar shingle roof while paying almost half the price. The roof is lightweight, durable, and offers beautiful aesthetics depending on your design choice.

With proper installation, a composite roof will last up to 50 years. While this roof may prove durable, look out for leaks, as repairs can be challenging. The cost will vary from $7.75 to $14.50 per square foot.

Slate Tile Roof

Slate tile roofs are suitable for regions with harsh weather conditions. This roof will handle anything thrown at them. This reputation has earned it a place in many homeowners’ hearts.

Because of their luxurious nature, slate roofs are popular among the affluent. Prepare to spend $600 to $1,500 per square. They are also substantial but will stay put for 50 to 100 years if installed by specialists.

EPDM Rubber Roof

If roof beauty isn’t on your must-have list when house hunting or building, a rubber roof is a great choice. This roof is cost-effective and offers a decent lifespan—between 25 and 30 years. To achieve such longevity, consider buying EPDM rubber roofs.

This material is leak-resistant since it’s seamless, although some have seams. These are prone to failure and may cause leakage. Expect to pay $5.50 to $9.50 per square foot.

Factors that Affect a Roof’s Lifespan

To answer the question, “How long does a roof last?” understand the factors that affect a roof’s lifespan. Let’s dissect each factor in detail.

1.      Types of Roofing Material

The outermost layer of the roof absorbs the first impact of any external element. Therefore, choose a durable roofing material to protect the entire roof system.

In that case, asphalt shingles are the recommended roofing material because they offer the best value for money in terms of aesthetics, energy efficiency, resilience, and price.

2.      Underlayment

As the name suggests, this goes between the roof deck and shingles. In most cases, this is a synthetic material or a felt sheet that protects against sun rays, chemicals, and moisture from ice, rain, or snow.

Investing in proper underlayment will increase a roof’s longevity. It will also protect your home during the shingle repair interval.

3.      Ventilation

Adequate air circulation allows for airflow outside and inside the roof. With proper airflow, moisture and temperature levels inside the attic are regulated, increasing the roof’s lifespan.

Proper ventilation will prevent ice dam formation on the roof’s eaves during winter. Ice dams can damage a home’s interior, walls, and ceilings. Therefore, consult an expert roofer to explore viable ventilation systems.

4.      Installation

The roofing materials may be the best on the market, but if the installation doesn’t match the quality, expect to make repairs sooner rather than later. Keep in mind that diverse roofs require distinctive fitting, and consulting a proficient roofer is the best option.

5.      Weather Conditions

A roof’s lifespan depends on where you live, with great attention to the climate conditions. While most roofing materials can withstand harsh weather, such as hailstones, strong winds, and heavy rain, they only do so to a certain point.  Seek advice from a qualified roofer to get the best roofing material for your region.

Looking for a Roof Replacement Contractor?

In Raleigh, North Carolina, our Big Bear roofing company is your one-stop shop for all roofing needs, from roof repairs to replacements. Big Bear Roofing has competent employees with the necessary industry know-how to achieve top-quality finishes. With over 50 years of combined team experience, you can be sure of the business’s best service.


How often do you need to replace a Roof?

One such aspect is the roof material, and asphalt shingles will need to be replaced more often. Weather conditions in your area will also affect a roof’s longevity.

Proper installation will give you time before thinking about replacement.

How long can a 30-year-old roof last?

The obvious answer is 30 years, correct? Wrong. Often, a 30-year-old shingle will not endure its projected years. The same applies to a 20, 40, and 50-year-old shingle. On average, a 30-year-old roof will last up to half its expected time.