Lifespans of the Most Popular Roofing Materials

Homeowners considering a roof replacement must choose a roofing material that fits within their expectations of how long it will last. There are many types of roofing materials available today with varying lifespans of between 20 and 100-years or more. The following post will breakdown the lifespans of some of the most popular roofing materials used in the residential construction industry. In addition, it must be noted that regional weather conditions, the quality of the materials purchased, roofing maintenance and cleaning as well as the design of the structure plays an important role when it comes to the actual lifespan of the roofing material.

Expected Roofing Material Life Spans

Asphalt 3-tab Shingles—20-years
• Asphalt Architectural Shingles—30-years
Wood Shingles—30-years
Metal Roofs—40 to 80-years
Slate, Concrete and Clay Roofing Tiles—60 to 150-years

Roofing Types and Life Expectancy

Asphalt—three tab—shingles have held the title of the most popular roofing material for decades. This durable material consists of an asphalt/fiberglass base shingle covered with protective granules to add extra durability as well as color. They have held the top spot for so long due to their relative lower cost and ease of installation. The most common types of asphalt shingles last approximately 20 years, however higher-quality versions are available that can last up to 50 years.

Architectural Shingles are similar to asphalt shingles as they are composed of the same materials, and are recyclable as well. An extra tab or layer is added during manufacture to provide both increased durability as well as aesthetic appeal. The average life span of an architectural shingle roof is 30 years.
Wooden shingles or shakes have been used for centuries and are still popular today. This durable roofing material is often manufactured using hard woods or composite wood materials. In moderate climate zones, wooden shingles and shakes can last approximately 30 years. Before purchasing, you should verify with your roofing contractor or local building department regarding their use, as many states do not permit the manufacture or installation of wooden shingles and shakes.

Metal roofing materials can last between 40 to 80 years depending on regional climate conditions. Traditionally, metal roofs consisted of simple, corrugated panels that offered little in aesthetic appeal. Today, metal roofing products are available to fit most any architectural style. The attractive panels are often manufactured using steel, aluminum or copper. A metallic coating and painted finish is added to steel panels during manufacture to prevent rust and increase aesthetic appeal. Aluminum panels do not require the metallic coating as they naturally resist rust and corrosion.


Slate, concrete and clay roofing tiles—according to the NAHB and NACHI—are the most durable roofing materials with life expectancies of 100 years or more.

Pros and Cons of Popular Roofing Materials

Roof replacement requires careful consideration when choosing which type of material to use. Aside from their longevity, the different roofing materials each have their own characteristics—both positive and negative that can have a significant impact on your investment.

asphalt shingles

Asphalt Shingle Roofs – Advantages

• Low cost
• Lower installation cost
• Fire resistant
• Recyclable – environmentally friendly
• Readily available at most home improvement centers

Asphalt Shingle Roofs – Disadvantages

• Hard to dispose of increases labor costs
• Shortest life span of the roofing materials mentioned here

wood shingles

Wood Roofs – Advantages

• Longer life span
• Aesthetically appealing by providing a natural look
• Environmentally friendly

Wood Roofs – Disadvantages

• Costs can be higher versus other roofing materials
• Requires additional fire retardation treatment
• Susceptible to mold and mildew without regular maintenance

metal roofing

Metal Roofing – Advantages

• Available in steel, aluminum and copper
• Metallic coatings and factory installed paint increase durability and appeal
• A long life span
• Fire resistant
• Easier to handle due to it’s light weight

Metal Roofing – Disadvantages

• Material costs can be higher versus traditional roofing materials
• Higher installation costs

Tile Roofing – Advantages

• Increased fire resistance
• Extremely long life span
• Wide selection of colors and materials

Tile Roofing – Disadvantages

• High material and labor costs
• Difficult installation
• Heavy weight reduces ease of handling

Choosing a Roofing Contractor

An experienced contractor will know beforehand the types of materials available for your area as well as the type best suited for your property and climate conditions. Choosing a contractor you feel comfortable with and who carries the proper credentials is the most important aspect of any roofing project.

2 Responses

  1. Lillian Schaeffer

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that asphalt shingles have a low cost. Our roof is getting really old, so my husband and I want to replace it before it starts to have problems. We’d prefer to save money on this project, so we’ll definitely look into asphalt shingles. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Rosie Gaudet

    I love that metal roofing has a long lifespan. I have always loved the look of metal roofs, so it is nice to know that it has benefits as well. That way I won’t have to worry about getting it replaced as often as I would with other roofing materials. That would definitely save me money in the long run!

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