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What is the Average Lifespan of a Shingle Roof?

The average lifespan of a shingle roof is based on a number of factors. Longevity depends on the climate of an area, the way the original installation was handled, and whether ongoing care and maintenance have been part of a regular routine. More importantly, the lifespan of a shingle roof is greatly affected by the overall materials used. Below you’ll find the average of each of the most commonly used materials:

Asphalt Shingles (3-tab) : 15 to 18 years

Asphalt Shingles (Architectural) : 24 to 30 years

Metal : 30 to 45 years

Concrete Tile : 35 to 50 years

Built-Up or Modified Bitumen : 10 to 16 years

EPDM (rubber) : 10 to 16 years

Shingles – Asphalt

Asphalt shingles are the most common of roof coverings, and they have been around since the 1920s, so they are an enduring roofing material. They are used on the majority of homes today, and are usually the option that most homeowners choose. The average lifespan of asphalt shingles ranges from 20 to 40 years depending on the manufacturer.

Organic Shingles

The materials that comprise shingles consist of asphalt compositions, which are either glass fiber (fiberglass) or organic. Organic shingles are made of felt-like material, which is drenched or saturated with asphalt to make the shingles water resistant. They are then coated with adhesive asphalt and ceramic or stone-like granules that are ingrained within the final shingle product.

Organic shingles contain at least 40% more asphalt than fiberglass shingles, which gives them more weight, durability and resistance to wind.

Glass Fiber/Fiberglass Shingles

Fiberglass or glass fiber shingles contain a reinforced glass fiber mat that is made in the shape of the shingle. The mat is coated with mineral filler asphalt, which adheres to the glass in the mat and helps to make it waterproof. A final adhesive coating is utilized to cover the entire mat with the addition of ceramic granules that are embedded in the mat. The granules are there to protect the shingles from the sun’s UV rays, which can damage and prematurely age shingles.

Fiberglass or glass fiber shingles are the more popular of the two as they are far less expensive, easier to produce, and more cost effective. They are also easier to work with, which is the likely reason why homeowners and roofing contractors choose them over organic shingles.

Lifespan of Asphalt Shingles

The longevity of asphalt shingles almost totally depends on where they have been installed and if they have been installed properly. Shingles found in cooler places in the United States last longer than those in warmer climates. The average lifespan for shingles, which is normally around 20 years, is determined to be about 14 years for warmer environment, such as the Southwest; whereas, in the North and Northeastern regions of the United States, asphalt shingles last anywhere from 19 to more than 20 years.

Temperature Extremes

Extremes in temperature are what affect the life of shingles and roofing materials. Obviously, warmer environments are going to limit shingle life. Shingles that experience abnormal temperature changes within short periods of time are not able to expand and contract as they should when wide temperature variations occur, such as 100 degrees during the day and considerably lower temperatures of below 50 at night.

Shingles don’t necessarily adapt to such intense variations in temperature. Splits, cracks and other damage appear with shingles that have been exposed to temperature extremes and water can get into those areas and create further damage.

Factors That Effect The Life Expectancy Of Your Shingles

Other damages that occur because of continuous water accumulation are algae and fungus growth as well as freezing and thawing cycles during colder months. With expansion of water in cracks and slits due to freezing, the larger the openings will become and the more damage that will occur. Yet even further damage to shingles can happen with insufficient or poor attic ventilation. Proper ventilation will increase the life of shingles and other parts of a roof.

All of these various and possible damages with shingles and other parts of a roof are reasons why roofing experts recommend sloped or pitched (steep) roofs as they shed water better and cause fewer problems concerning accumulated water. Professionals also suggest utilizing lighter colored shingles in warmer climates as they absorb less heat and prolong the life of shingles.

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.
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.

Maintenance and Warranties

Two important things that prolong the life of shingles are maintenance and a watchful eye. Keep a lookout for any curling or other problems that might occur with shingles and related roofing issues. When it comes to warranties and your shingles, they can be of help with manufacturing defects but always ask for a copy of a material warranty and read through the particulars for coverage, costs, installation requirements and other particulars before making any final decisions. Most warranty programs through a shingle manufacturer range from 20 to 40 years and beyond.

Ready to get started?

Our contractors have the knowledge and experience to handle any roofing project, no matter the size and scope. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experts.

We’ll begin by assessing the current condition of your roof and will develop the best plan based on your circumstances. We can help you decide if repairs will be an adequate fix or if it’s a better investment to re-roof.

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