What is the average lifespan of a metal (galvalume) roof?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The expected lifespan of a metal roof is 30 to 45 years in Florida. The most common metal roof material we see in this area is galvalume, which is a steel sheet with an electrolytically-applied coating of a combination of zinc and aluminum to extend the lifespan. It is manufactured in many different profiles, including corrugated, standing seam, 5V-crimp, and PBR, to name just a few; and can have a clear or painted finish. Galvanized steel metal roofing, which is an older type no longer used for residential roof, has a shorter lifespan.

   The average lifespan estimate is based standard metal, which is 26-gauge, and  “average” conditions. Many factors contribute to a longer or shorter life of the roof; so a particular metal roof’s life can vary—sometimes significantly—from the average. Here’s a list of conditions that affect roof longevity:

  • Thickness of metal - 24-gauge metal, which is thicker, will have a longer lifespan. Lighter gauge metal, such as 28 and 30-gauge, are typically only used to agricultural barn roofs and have a shorter expected life.
  • Color of roof - A dark color painted roof absorbs more heat, and the paint will oxidize sooner. 
  • Angle of roof slope - Higher pitch roofs tend to last longer.
  • Proximity to Ocean - Salt air mist accelerates the corrosion of metal roofing and manufacturers’ warranties have exclusions for installations near salt water.
  • Orientation of roof surface - A roof slope facing south will get more sunlight, and have a shorter life.
  • Quality of roof material - “Economy” roof materials have a shorter life.
  • Installation - Sloppy or improper installation shortens roof life. Manufacturers typically blame the roofing contractor for a roof that has a short life, and they are sometimes correct. Exposed fasteners, over-driven fasteners, and poor or missing flashing at valleys and edges will shorten the 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.

   Metal roofs begin to corrode as they age and, when spots begin to pit and rust through as in the photo below of an extremely old galvanized steel corrugated roof in Cedar Key, the roof is at the end of its lifespan. 

    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:

Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses?

Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof? 

What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?

What causes roof shingles to curl up at corners?  

What causes shingles to buckle along a line on the roof?

What causes leaks at a fake roof dormer? 

What causes a sagging roof ridge line?

What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?  

Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than a low slope roof? 

What is "ponding" on a flat roof?

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code? 

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?

How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles? 

What are the common problems with attic insulation? 

What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof? 

What's the average lifespan of a roof?

Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings? 

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door? 

Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?

What can I do to prevent roof leaks?

Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)? 

Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?

What causes a lump or dip in the roof? 

If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?

How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home? 

What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?

Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof? 

How can I make my roof last longer?  

What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

How can I find out the age of a roof? 

Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?

Should I buy a house with an old roof? 

What are those metal boxes on the roof?

What does "lack of tab adhesion" in an asphalt shingle roof mean?

Why do roof edges start leaking?

Why do my dormer windows leak? 

Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

Should I put gutters on the house? 

How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic? 

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof? 

What does a home inspector look for when examining a roof? 

Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking?

How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?  

 Why does my homeowner's insurance want a roof inspection?

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

    Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC  and LIFE EXPECTANCY pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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