A Quick Guide to Average Roof Lifespans

Asphalt shingle is the most common, and least expensive, type of residential roofing you can have. But other options are available, and they include wood, slate, metal and tile. A flat roof is also an option.

Deciding which material to use is based on many factors, including the price of the materials, what kind of home it is, how long you want the roof to last, and if you’re concerned with the roof being perhaps too fragile.

Let’s take a look at each type of roof, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Warped roof that needs replacing

Asphalt Shingle

Asphalt shingle is durable, waterproof, and inexpensive. This makes it very popular with homeowners, as well as the facts that it comes in many colors and styles, is easy to install, and can be used in a wide variety of temperatures.

The average lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is about 20 years, though you can purchase some that promise a 50 year lifespan. Intense sunlight or extreme temperatures can shorten the lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof.

Asphalt shingle does have disadvantages. It has a shorter lifespan than heavier tiles, particularly if it’s walked on. Dark ones are prone to fading and color inconsistencies. Color inconsistencies are caused by algae, which doesn’t survive well in sunlight, and can be removed with a sodium hypochlorite bleach solution that is then rinsed with fresh water, but this may be extra work that you don’t want to do.


Wood shakes and cedar shingles are manufactured from naturally renewable resources, making them a very green-friendly option. You can find them constructed from recycled wood or harvested in environmentally sound ways, making them even more eco-friendly. These are actually a preferred environmental choice due to their minimal impact on the quality of water runoff, and their stability. They have a lifespan of 30 years or more.

Wood shakes and cedar shingles do have some disadvantages as well. The maintenance required to ensure that moss, mold and mildew don’t grow on them can be time-consuming. Ensuring the wood’s integrity is maintained requires regular inspections by a qualified roofing company. The shingles are also not as fire-resistant as other options, and they are more susceptible to wood rot, insect infestation and general damage. As a result of these potential pitfalls, it is highly recommended that you have your wood shake or cedar shingle roof inspected each year.


Slate tiles can be an elegant addition to a more upscale home. Slate is fire resistant, invulnerable to rot, and easy to maintain. With a nice natural appearance, and a lifespan of 100 years or more, it’s easy to see why slate makes a nice roofing option. It also comes in a variety of colors and styles.

However, slate tiles are much heavier and more expensive. They require a high degree of expertise for installation. They are also easily broken underfoot, which means that gutter Raleigh and other rooftop maintenance can be more complicated and tricky than other roofs.


Ceramic tiles are generally pretty durable and resistant to fading. They give a house a nice character, are fireproof, and can have a lifespan of 50-70 years, if the tiles are quality.

On the downside, they aren’t suitable to areas with fluctuating weather, as these conditions can erode them. They can also be damaged by high winds, and walking on them, like the slate tiles. They are durable and fragile at the same time.


Metal roofs are gaining popularity. They are low maintenance, environmentally friendly, and lightweight. Installation can be a bit tricky, so you need a Raleigh roofer with metal roof experience to install it. As it loses its shine, repainting is generally a cheaper option than replacing it. Metal roofs can last 40-70 years before needing to be replaced.

Metal roofs can be more expensive than other options. They can also be quite noisy, particularly during thunderstorms or hail, or if you have many trees that drop acorns during the fall. The metal will also expand and contract, which means if they’re not installed properly, the panels may loosen. Future additions to your home may not be able to be perfectly matched to the existing roof, either.


Flat roofs are typically less expensive to install than a sloped roof. They’re safer to walk on than a sloped roof as well. Flat roofs give you the option of putting your air conditioner on the roof, or installing solar panels that aren’t easily visible. Its lifespan is material-dependent, but typically, you can expect a flat roof to only last about 10 years.

Flat roofs require a lot of maintenance. You’ll have to ensure that it remains watertight, clear it regularly of leaves and other debris that tend to accumulate and clog the drain. The sun will degrade the roof over time, too. The replacement cost of a flat roof is quite high.

Which option is best for you?

Your best roof replacement option will depend on your budget, personal taste, and how long you want the roof to last. A qualified Raleigh roofing contractor can go over your options in more detail with you and help you determine what your best choice would be, based on your budget and preferences.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that the average lifespans listed here are estimates only. Rain and ice can impact how long a roof lasts. If you’ve purchased a home and you’re not sure how old the roof is, or you’re starting to notice little indications of potential trouble, it may be worth investing in a roof replacement now to save yourself further repair trouble in the future.

Whether you’re ready to replace your roof or just need it inspected, contact your qualified Raleigh roofing contractor Rain-Go Exteriors today to get the process started.

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