Your roof serves the essential role of protecting you and your family from the elements while keeping you warm, comfortable, and dry. Unfortunately, all of that punishment naturally means that your roof will likely need a replacement at some point in your home’s life. How often does a roof need to be replaced? If you are going purely by age, most roofing specialists suggest that the typical roof in the United States will last about 20 to 25 years, but not all roofs are designed the same. Read on to learn more about how often you should replace a roof.
The material that your roof is made of plays a large role in how long it will last. Some materials are more durable than others, allowing them to better withstand the rigors of torrential downpours, debris from high winds, and sizzling heatwaves.
Asphalt shingles and composite roofs are the most common materials and tend to also last the least amount of time (usually about 20 years on average) before requiring a replacement. Fiber cement shingles will last a little longer at about 25 years. Wood shake roofs should last up to 30 years. The most durable roofs tend to be slate roofs, roof tiles, and any sort of metal roofing, like copper. These are estimated to last up to 50 years without requiring replacement.
This can be good to keep in mind when getting a new roof installed. You may want to invest in a slightly more expensive roofing material to forego frequent roofing repairs caused by unexpected weather conditions.
Signs That You Need to Replace Your Roof
Even understanding the quality and durability of your roofing material, the lifespan of your roof still depends on the climate. Frequent hail, snow, hurricanes, and inclement weather can cut the longevity of any roof. There are also recommended roofs for hot climates.
Instead of relying entirely on the age and material of your roof, it’s more important to check your roof frequently and take notice of any potential signs that it could use a replacement.
Healthy shingles equal a healthy roof. If your shingles are buckling, curling, cracking, or otherwise showing any signs of damage, your roof will likely need some repairs. Entire shingles that have gone missing may also point to a new roof in your future. Curling can appear in two forms. Cupping refers to shingles that have their corners turned upward, creating a cup or bowl shape. Clawing is when the middle of the shingle raises up while the edges and corners remain flat. This usually means that the bottom of the shingle is shrinking compared to the top of the shingle, which may also be a sign of heat escaping from a poorly ventilated attic.
Both forms of curling are caused by weathering and will likely result in further damage and a leaky roof if left untreated. Cracked shingles, especially if they tend to only one side of the house, usually point to wind damage.
While it’s okay to replace individual shingles, damage or curling in one or a handful of shingles likely points to more shingle damage. Depending on the extent of this damage, you may be anywhere from one year to five years away from a complete roof replacement. It can also be difficult to find individual shingles that are the exact same tone and color as your existing shingles, so you may consider replacing your entire roof to maintain the aesthetics of your roof.
Asphalt shingles include granules made from crushed minerals. These granules allow for the different colors, shapes, and sizes of asphalt, but they also protect the asphalt layer from the sun. If you have just gotten a new roof installed, some loose granules are normal and expected. However, if your shingles are older and shedding their granules, you may have some problems on your hands. Without those granules, your shingles are rendered useless and will deteriorate quickly. If you find more granules in the gutter or otherwise notice that the granules may be shedding, you may want to have your roof inspected.
Light in the Attic
If you see spots of light shining through the attic, you should definitely get your roof checked soon. Noticeable light spots in the attic mean holes in the roof that will likely let in water, snow, cold air, and potentially wayward pests. If you do find any light leaks, keep a careful eye on them during the next few rainfalls. If the holes warp or change size, you may have an active moisture leak on your hands.
Thankfully, not all holes are a huge issue. Smaller leaks can easily be patched without needing to replace the entire roof. However, larger leaks, especially those that involve structural damage to older roofs, may require more extensive repairs.
A Sagging Roof
A flat roof should generally look sturdy, so any sagging is an obvious sign that something is wrong, potentially wear and tear. Sagging usually points to a structural issue, whether it’s problems in the attic or foundational supports. While this does not necessarily mean that you and your home are in immediate danger of a roof collapse, it is absolutely something that you should address sooner rather than later. It’s easier to take care of a problem that is small and localized to one area, as opposed to a larger problem that could be more widespread throughout the roof’s foundation.
What to Know About a Roof Replacement
Replacing your roof can be a large undertaking, so here are some things that you should know before you get your roof replaced.
Removing Old Asphalt Shingles
You are allowed to have up to two layers of asphalt shingles on your roof, meaning that you may just be able to install new shingles over the old shingles. This can potentially save you some money, but in the long run, you may have to deal with more costly repairs. Without stripping away the older shingles, the roofer can’t check the decking or flashing underneath. Removing the old shingles also gives the roofer the opportunity to install ice and water shields, which can prevent water damage if you live in a particularly wet climate.
Choosing the Right Roof
While it may cost you more upfront, it is worth it to splurge on higher-quality roofing materials. Choosing materials designed to last 50 years will save you in the long term and prevent waste of resources from frequent roof replacements and repairs. Copper is the most durable metal for sealing areas where the roof meets a wall.
Professional roofing can require a lot of money and liability, so make sure that your roofing contractor obtains all of the necessary paperwork and documentation — especially if you plan on choosing a roofing company that finances. This should include:
- A building permit that ensures that your professional roofing contractor follows building code
- A written contract that lists all the necessary details, products, and costs involved
- A letter from your contractor’s insurance carrier that confirms everything is covered
So how often should a roof be replaced? The simple answer is as often as you need to, but knowing what to look out for can help you evaluate your roof and make the right decisions. Make sure you inspect your roof and attic to the best of your ability and consult a roofing specialist for a more comprehensive inspection.