Roofing: the lifespan of a roof
Last modified: 2019/06/13 | Approximate reading time 5 mins
Having a roof over your head is a common luxury that many homeowners may take for granted. Your roof spends its lifetime outside, coming up against all the rain, wind, sun and snow that the weather throws its way. For this reason, it is fairly likely that your roof will experience wear and tear, leading to the potential for cracks, breaks and leaks.
If you’ve noticed recent damage to your roofing material and you’re thinking about re-roofing your home, or you’re just curious about the ins and outs of roofing materials, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s everything you need to know about the lifespan of roofing materials.
Common roofing materials and their characteristics
A few things to consider
Now, you could have installed the longest lasting roofing material on the market onto the exterior of your home. However, you may have noticed it deteriorating at a faster rate then what you’ve read or heard. Of course, all of the information we are about to provide you with are simply averages. It is very important to bear in mind that many factors will come into play regarding how well your roof remains in an operational state.
These include regional weather conditions, the design of your building, how much attention and maintenance you pay to your roof, how the material was originally installed as well as the quality of the material. All of these factors play a vital role in determining the life expectancy of your roofing.
Specific roofing materials and their lifespans
Here is a list of some of the most common roofing materials as well as their corresponding lifespans
Life expectancy: between 20-25 years, though routine maintenance is required
Multiple-layer asphalt is mostly reserved for flat surfaces and rooftops. The material itself is made from a combination of felt that has been saturated with a liquid asphalt that is inserted between each coat. Following this, the surface is finished with gravel. This material used to employ tar, and the tar would heat up and fill in cracks on hot summer days.
There are many positives to using this material as a roof covering. This includes the fact that it is relatively inexpensive, though prices may vary between cities and municipalities. Since this asphalt has multiple layers, it avoids certain forms of sun damage that cause cracking
Some of the negatives of this material include the fact that it’s not environmentally friendly and is therefore fairly bad for the environment. Another negative point worth noting is that proper maintenance of this material is extremely important, as gravel can easily gather in your storm drains, clogging them and leading to the potential for flooding.
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Bi-layer elastomer membrane
Life expectancy: between 25 to 40 years
This roofing material consists of a double membrane that is made from bitumen and is often used by professional roofers. BEM can also be used as an undercoat for slanted roofs, as put below other types of roofing such as asphalt shingles. This material is extremely durable and includes a smooth finish if that’s the type of aesthetic you’re interested in.
However, there are a few risks involved when choosing this material, including the fact that blow torches are used during the installation process and therefore, there is a chance of fire. Since this material comes from asphalt, it is also not environmentally-friendly. Lastly, this material is more expensive than asphalt.
Life expectancy: 15 to 35 years
Asphalt roof shingles come in many shapes and sizes, and the weight and size of the shingle directly affect its durability. Of course, the heavier it is, the better. Some shingles will come with a warranty, but this will directly depend on the manufacturer. One of the pros of asphalt shingles is that they have a great resistance to humidity, so if you live in a particularly humid climate they may be the choice for you.
Further, they are inexpensive and easy to maintain, making them appealing to many. On top of this, shingles come in many different colours, textures, and finishes. But it is good to bear in mind that the material quality will directly affect the lifespan of your roof.
Life expectancy: over 30 years
Wood shingles are a beautiful option but will require a bit of extra maintenance. Specifically, if shingles have a rough surface they will need to be stained every 15 years to continue to hold up against weather conditions. If the surface of your wood shingles is smooth, they will need to be done every 5 years. Like asphalt shingles, wood shingles will generally come with a warranty.
Wood shingles are very waterproof, due to the wood torrefaction process, they are also very resistant to other types of weather. However, wood shingles are very expensive to install and as mentioned, they need to be stained on a semi-regular basis, which could be a lot of work for some.
TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) or EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer)
Life expectancy: 15 to 30 years
These two materials are generally used in green-roofing projects. TPO is made of vinyl in contrast with EPDM which is made from synthetic rubber. Both materials are very weather-resistant while remaining light and durable. Another pro is that they are resistant to mould and require little maintenance. Since they are made from a white membrane, they will not conserve heat and help to reduce “heat island” effects in big cities. Although these materials are made from oil and cannot be considered eco-friendly, they create less pollution than other types of roofing materials.
Metal roofing: aluminum or copper
Life expectancy: 50 years
Metal roofing has a longer lifespan than any other of the mentioned materials as well as an above-average quality. Metal roofs do not require too much maintenance and age fairly well, adding serious curb appeal and cachet to a house. Metal roofing comes in a variety of colours and is 100% recyclable which is an exceptional quality. However, metal roofing is expensive to both install and replace. Since it has such an excellent lifespan and does not require much maintenance, hopefully, yours will remain in tip-top condition.
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