Residential Roof Warranties: What You Need to Know


When it’s time to replace your residential, you’re buying more than just the roof–you’re buying warranties, too.

If your roof suffers damage, you’ll be relying on the associated warranties, so it pays to understand the warranties on your existing roof, and to have a good grasp of the warranties offered when you are comparing bids on a replacement roof.


Material Warranty

The material warranty is offered by the manufacturer, and covers defects in the material–not faulty installation.

While rare, material failures can happen. It’s important to rely on a manufacturer with a good track record–one that’s been in business for a while. If your shingle vendor goes out of business, any material warranty it has provided will be out of business, too.

Most–but not all!–warranties address wind damage. Compare the wind speed ratings for different shingles. Some manufacturers will upgrade the wind rating based on higher installation standards, like more nails or specific sealing protocols.

What’s the life of the material, according to the manufacturer? Typical ratings range from 20-50 years.

Important: If premature failure occurs, will the manufacturer replace materials only, or also cover the labor cost of replacement?

Workmanship Warranty

The workmanship warranty is offered by the roofing contractor, and covers problems relating to installation issues, not material issues. Most problems result from faulty installation, not material failure, so this one is important to understand.

First, consider whether you can rely on the contractor to be in business for the next 5-10 years. It’s a notoriously high turnover business, so do some homework to find out how long your contractor has been in business, whether they’ve accrued complaints with the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Affairs, and whether they’ve got positive reviews from previous customers. Ask for references from customers who’ve had their roofs for a few years, and ask for referrals from friends and neighbors.

Typical contractor warranties lengths extend 5-10 years. Be cautious when contractors offer excessively long guaranties compared to other bids you’ve received.

Save all receipts, invoices and other documents in case you have a problem with your roof.

Lastly, ask whether these things will void either warranty:

  • Change of ownership
  • Rooftop solar system
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Multiple layers of roofing
  • A different contractor working on the roof

A new roof is one of the bigger expenses a homeowner encounters, so make sure you get the most bang for your buck by considering and comparing warranty promises.