How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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What's the average lifespan of a roof?
Thursday, June 28, 2018
The life expectancy of a roof varies between different roof materials. Here’s the averages, and click on any roof type in the list for more info about it:
Asbestos Cement Shingle - 40 to 60 years, average 50
Asphalt Shingles, 3-tab - 16 to 22 years, average 20
Asphalt Shingles, Architectural/Dimensional - 24 to 30 years, average 27
Built-up - 17 to 25 years, average 20
Built-up and Gravel - 20 to 30 years, average 25
Concrete/Clay Tile - 40 to 60 years, average 50
Corrugated Asphalt Panels - 9 to 13 years, average 11
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Dyene Monomer) - 20 to 30 years, average 23
Metal (Galvalume) - 30 to 50 years, average 40
Modified Bitumen - 10 to 17 years, average 15
Patio Cover - 20 to 30 years, average 25
PVC - 20 to 30 years, average 25
SPF (Spray Polyurethane Foam) - 20 to 50 years, average 30
TPO (Thermoplastic PolyOlefin) - 20 - 30 years, average 23
But average lifespan estimates are based on “average” conditions. Many factors contribute to a longer or shorter life of the roof; so a particular roof’s life can vary—sometimes significantly—from the average.
Here’s a list of conditions that affect roof longevity:
Color of roof - A dark roof absorbs more heat, which shortens the lifespan.
Angle of roof slope - Higher pitch roofs tend to last longer.
Orientation of roof surface - A roof slope facing south will get more sunlight, and have a shorter life.
Multiple-layer roof - A roof installed over an existing roof will have a shorter life.
Quality of roof material - “Economy” roof materials have a shorter life, thicker shingles last longer.
Installation - Sloppy or improper installation shortens roof life.
Attic ventilation - An unventilated or poorly ventilated attic reduces roof lifespan.
Trees near roof - Tree branches rubbing on a roof or the acidity from the accumulation of leaf debris on a roof shortens its life.
Harsh climate - Severe weather, both harsh winters and hot summers, along with big temperature swings within a 24-hour period, also shorten lifespan because of the expansion and contraction of roof materials.
Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?
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To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:
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