How Long Should a Roof Last?

By Elizabeth Layne

Few things are more important to a house than a good roof. Although roofing materials have average life expectancies, the life expectancy of any one roof depends on factors such as local weather conditions and the roof's design and construction, as well as its material. In any case, homeowners need an idea of when their roof might require replacement. Slate, copper and clay roofs typically have the longest life expectancy.

roofer
credit: Annie Desaulniers/iStock/Getty Images
Man building a roof.

Average Life Expectancies

Slate roofs can last 100 years or more, and clay roof tiles, on average, endure 100 years. Cooper and other metal roofs have life expectancies of at least 50 years. While concrete tile roofs are marketed as having 50-year life expectancies, Roofkey.com points out that their underlayment and batten systems need replacement after 30 or 40 years. Asphalt shingles are available in two varieties, standard single thickness and thicker, laminated shingles. Single-thickness shingles last approximately 35 years or more, and laminated shingles need to be replaced after 15 or more years. Homeowners can expect wood roofs to last 25 years, on average.

Deciding Factors

While slate has a very long lifespan, it's also very expensive, costing approximately $800 per square -- an area equaling 10 feet by 10 feet -- at the time of publication. Asphalt singles are relatively inexpensive, but their life expectancy is much shorter. When considering a new roof, most homeowners stick with the material already on their homes, but those desiring other options should take into consideration factors such as color and weight, as well as budget and durability.