What Is the Average Life of a Roof?

Terry Anderson on Mar 12, 2019 10:39:00 AM

Stimson Marina | Installed July 2014To get the most out of your roofing investment, it is important to understand the stages associated with the lifespan of your roof. In today’s market, roofs can last anywhere from 10 to 30 or more years. Understanding the three lifecycle stages will equip you with the information you need to ensure you’re getting the most value out of your roof. 

Stage 1: New Roof

Much like a car, your roofing system has a ‘new’ phase that lasts for the first 2 years of its life. It begins with conception of the design. This involves not only you, but also the designer and consultant to decide on the right roofing system to fit your unique needs. Two important questions to consider are 

  1. What is the intended use of the building? 
  2. How long are you planning on staying in the same building? 

These questions typically dictate the design and specifications.

Once the decision is made, total assembly occurs from the deck up. Pay close attention to the quality of materials, it’s better to pay now than pay later. Quality of workmanship is also an essential factor to consider during this stage as the contractor is still tied to workmanship for those two years. After the first two years, the responsibility falls to you as the owner. 

Stage 2: Maintenance Period

Typically this lifecycle stage lasts between 2 - 15 years and is where the bulk of your maintenance is going to occur. Ongoing maintenance is imperative to ensure a long-lasting, healthy roof. Your roof requires periodic inspections, either annually or biannually, to make sure the various system components are still performing the way they need to be. If not, repairs need to happen in a time efficient manner to prevent serious damage. Typically, there are three ways in which inspections can be performed:

  1. By the manufacturer
  2. Through an extended agreement with your original contractor
  3. By hiring your own inspection crew. 

This stage is often overlooked and many roofs fail due to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Even with warranties, much of the cost associated with repairing ill-maintained roofing systems falls on the shoulders of the owner. Warranties can be voided for a number of reasons, especially if the reporting of a material breakdown is delayed for an extended period of time.

Stage 3: Re-Roofing 

The average roof life today is about 15 years. However, when given the proper attention during the maintenance stage of the lifecycle, your roof’s lifespan can be extended up to 30-plus years. All roofs reach the end of their life eventually. When this happens, it’s time to consider your replacement options. Do you have to completely replace your roof or will a re-cover do the job? Some factors to consider at this stage include aesthetics, performance characteristics and criteria, environmental factors and economics. You may find that the most cost efficient solution is actually to replace the roof entirely, starting from the deck up. 

By understanding the stages of your roof’s lifecycle, you can maximize the lifespan of your roofing system as well as reduce overall costs. Even though your roof is out of sight, it should not be out of mind. Do you have any more tips for getting the most value out of your roof? Share them in the comments!

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