How long will my roof last?

How long will my roof last?

By: Shawn Brannan & Justin Smith

That might be the number-one question we hear at All Elements, for good reason. A new roof is a big investment, and naturally people want reassurance that it will last, as well as some reference point to predict future expenses of the next replacement.

We’ve got two answers to that question, depending on what kind of roof we’re talking about. All Elements does both commercial and residential roofing. Typically, commercial projects have flat roofs and residential have pitched shingled roofs.

How Long Will My Flat Roof Last?

The National Commercial Roofers Association has cited research indicating a low slope roof lasts 17 years on average, but remember that is a national average. They don’t specify whether storm loss is included in that figure.

In our northern climate, we find that flat roofs last from 15 to 40 years.

What makes the difference? There are a lot of factors, some of which you have control over and some which you don’t. It’s a long list, including things like these: Materials, drainage, accumulated debris, vegetation, ice dams, snow load, rodents, birds, salt and other pollutants, maintenance, foot traffic, and equipment installations.

How Long Will My Shingled Roof Last?

If installed properly and barring any acts of God (such as hail and wind), a shingled roof typically last between 20-25 years here in Minnesota.

There are many factors which determine how long a shingled roof will last. While product quality impacts roof longevity, it doesn’t always determine how long a roofing system will last. Below are some key installation factors that will prolong the life expectancy of a roofing system.

Substrate: The surface below the shingles needs to be properly installed in order for the shingle fasteners to properly secure the shingles. Gaps between the deck boards (typically found on older homes) over ¼” will cause the shingles to buckle, which weakens the seal over time. The fasteners must also penetrate through the roof decking; otherwise the nails will lift over time, creating holes.

Ventilation: Shingles need ventilation to perform properly. Soffit ventilation (intake) and ridge vent (exhaust) are typically the best way to properly ventilate an attic. Improper ventilation can cause the shingles to blister or crack, which will shorten their lifespan.

Installation: If shingles aren’t installed per manufacturer specifications they will fail prematurely. Improper installation methods will void the warranty.

Maintenance Pays Off

Our number-one tip for getting the longest leak-free life out of your roof? Maintenance.

Twice annually someone should check your roof. First, they should remove debris and clear drains, and then they should evaluate it for repairs. Want to save money? Fix the minor things before they become major things.

If you don’t have the time, give us a call at All Elements. We’re on your side: we’d love to help that roof of yours last as long as it possibly can. A small investment in maintenance and repairs now could put off that big expense of replacement a few more years.


Kari Switala