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Roof Replacement – How Often to Do? (Tricks to Extend the Lifespan)9 min read

Roof Replacement – How Often to Do? (Tricks to Extend the Lifespan)9 min read

Putting a new roof on a building is a complicated task. Fortunately, a lot of roofing will survive for years if it is installed properly. Depending on the material used, the life of the roof can be anywhere between 12 years to 75 years. 

I know that’s a very big range.  Check out the chart below to have a breakdown lifespan by the type of material used in the roof.

The weather of an area can also influence a roof’s lifespan.

You should know what things indicate a deteriorating roof.  Rotting, curling and missing shingles are all signs that your roof needs to be fixed or replaced.

Sometimes roofs are damaged, but the damages are not easily spotted.

I know you came here to get a quick answer on the life of the roof.

But Wait:

Just knowing the life of the roof is one thing. But knowing the causes for why the life shortens or extends is whole another thing – and an important one.

So, as you can imagine the rest of the article will touch on that subject.

I started this blog to talk about converting your basement into a useful livable space.  Which, by the way, is the cheapest way in a house to expand bar none.

However, I ended up talking about the roof, mailboxes, and attic.  It’s all because someone asks and I just don’t feel like spending the time to explain this one person.  I just feel it’s related home improvement stuff and so I write about it here so it’s genuinely helps many others.

Roofing Material

When looking to replace a roof, the first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of material you want to use.

A cheap but durable option is asphalt, but keep in mind that even the strongest durability of this material can be damaged by icy weather and high winds.

Clay and slate are higher quality roofing options that resist decay, fire, and pests, but both of these materials will cost significantly more than asphalt shingles.

For roofing that is more suited to a particular climate, you might want to look into wooden or metal roofing. Roofing comes in a few different forms, from individual tiles to rolls of shingles.

The Average Lifespan of a Roof

Without a lot of suspense, let me tell you the lifespan of different roof materials. These are common estimates, but the life of the roof will extend if you maintain them well.

However…

…neglect at your own peril.  If you don’t care for your roof, it is going to reduce the life.

Note: I underlined Average Lifespan in the heading for a reason.  These are just averages, and for certain material types, you must maintain to get this life.

Here is the typical average lifespan of different roofing materials:

Material Type Average Lifespan
  • Asphalt Shingles ( 3-Tab A.K.A. Composition)
12-20 years
  • Asphalt Shingles (Architectural)
25-30 years
  • Applied Modified Bitumen Roofing or Built-up
15-20 years
  • Wood Shingles
15-25 years
  • Rubber Roofs
15-50 years
  • Concrete Tile
35-50 years
  • Slate
30-50 years
  • Metal – Galvalume Steel
30-70 years
  • Metal – Zinc, Aluminum and Copper
50-100 years
  • Metal – Zinc, Aluminum and Copper
50-100 years

Roofing 101

The goal is to ensure that you understand the complete process it takes to complete your project.

I will supply you with any information regarding products, services, specifications, terms, and hopefully peace of mind going through the project process.

Need for a New Roof – How can I assess?

Certainly, there are indications that clearly state that you need a new roof, but it is always a good idea to have an experienced roofer give you a total inspection.

If your roof is 15 years or older and one or more of the following are visible, it is probably time to replace.

Curling Shingles

Due to various reasons the roof reinforcements contract.  This has a ripple effect on Shingles – making the shingles to curl.

And when the curling happens it is almost nearing the stage where shingles need to be replaced.

If your roof is less than 15 years old, it might also mean a manufacturer’s defect.

Buckled Shingles

Shingles that are buckled usually break and cause leaks. Moisture problems are usually to blame, a roofer professional can inspect the source and suggest a diagnosis.

Missing Granules

If your roof is older than 15 years old and the gutters have an abundance of granules, your roof probably needs to be replaced. It is common for a new roof to lose some amount of granules.

Wet Spots on Ceiling

If you have an attic, leaks are clearly detectable. Brown spots can be seen on the ceiling, or water might be dripping inside the house.

This does not mean your roof needs replaced. There are several reasons why this could happen.

A simple repair could fix the problem, but you need to access the root cause. It’s not always a big one.

Missing Shingles

Missing shingles can be a serious problem. A high wind storm can blow them off if they are old or sometimes if they are not installed correctly.

This is easy to repair. This is quick and simple to do.

Damaged Flashing

When old flashing becomes corroded, it leaks.  Improper installation is also a factor that could cause leaking.

Algae Stain

Algae can shorten the life of your roof. Not algae alone of course, but moss feeds on algae and that becomes a roof threat. If you can visibly see moss on your roof, eliminate algae.

A yearly inspection can easily lengthen the life of your roof!

Roof Installation and Replacement

Old roofs need to be removed before new roofs can be installed on buildings. All of the nails and shingles in the building’s roof will have to be torn off and thrown away.

The newly exposed tar paper and beams will have to be inspected once all of the shingles and nails are gone. Tar paper and beam replacement or repair may be necessary.

Installation of a new roof can begin once the old roof has been removed. You may need new trusses, which are just the frames of the roof, and new tar paper will have to be put on top of the trusses.

Any roofing tiles or shingles will have to be installed one row at a time and overlapping these rows will improve the performance of the roofing.

After all parts of the roof have been tightened down, roofing cement is applied over the nails and around the shingles. Even a small roofing job can take days, assuming it is done well.

Metal Roof Failure Facts

Thermal Shock:

A major cause for metal roof problems is roof movement or expansions and contraction caused by thermal shock.

A sun-heated roof surface commonly reaches 150 to 175 degrees. Every time when it rains, the roof surface temperature plummets to 70 to 75 degrees.

This causes a steel roof to contract or move approximately 1″/100′ of the roof, almost instantly. An aluminum roof will move nearly 2″/100′.

This same roof movement occurs more slowly every morning and night of a sunny day, or with variable cloudiness.

The structural steel supporting the roof moves only a fraction of an inch, if at all. This places the roof panels and panel fasteners under extreme dynamic stress.

This stress loosens and breaks fasteners, loosens seams and can elongate fastener holes, all causing leaks.

Studies have proven that roofs insulated under the roof surface are normally more troublesome, because of even higher peak roof temperatures.

Rusting and Corrosion:

Most new roof surfaces and panel fasteners are protected by paint or galvanizing.

Natural aging and roof movement causes this protection to deteriorate and rusting occurs.

Commonly fasteners rust first and accelerate “through” rust on the roof surface around them. Rain and moisture can enter even into tight roof seams.

While the seams might not leak, capillary action holds the moisture in the seams and accelerates heavy concealed rust damage, frequently before anyone realizes what is happening.

Chemicals and salt in the atmosphere also frequently cause rust and corrosion problems.

Fastener Gasket Rot:

Fastener gaskets rot in the heat and the UV-rays of the sun and then they leak.

What Can Be Done?

Replace the roof:

This can be very costly & usually in a few years, the very same problems that caused the original roof to fail, will cause the new roof to fail.

That is of course unless the new roof is somehow externally shielded.

Seal and Coat:

Spot sealing of leaks with any of numerous mastics or coatings can be effective for a short period of time.

These sealants commonly fail quickly, for the same reasons the roof failed. The usually look bad and carry no warranty.

Many of the common coatings can create and contribute to very serious concealed rusting because they entrap and hold moisture constantly in close contact with the roof surface.

This includes most aluminum coatings and urethane foam. Concealed rusting can become so bad that roof replacement may be the only answer.

Many suppliers are aware of the destructive potential of their sealants.

The optimum system would dependably and cost-effectively, treat and prevent the roof.

Prevent against what?

Rust, insulate against the damaging intense heat and rays of the sun, cool the building.

It also eliminates thermal shock/roof movement, looks good, restores the roof to top condition, preserves it, plus carry a meaningful warranty.

Roofing Contractors

Due to the complexity and duration of a roofing job, many homeowners choose to have a roofing contractor do the work. Roofing contractors can repair, remove, and replace all types of roofs.

While specific schooling is not always required for roofing contractors, a licensed contractor will need to educate and train a prospective contractor.

All roofing contractors need to be licensed by the state, and this license cannot be obtained until enough on-the-job training has been completed.

Any roof contractor you hire should have a valid license and insurance policy. All contractors should also have insurance, like worker’s compensation and liability insurance.

Be sure to personally examine jobs that have recently been done by a contractor.

Get estimates from a few different contractors, and always have your chosen contractor draft you a contract.

Check for references and see some of the completed jobs.

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