Roofing Materials Rated and Examined

You can rate roofing materials from various angles– aesthetics, lowest cost, resale value, DIY-ability– but if longevity is your priority, you should look to these types:

7. Asphalt Roll Roof

Often it really is a race between tortoise and hare: not who can go fastest but who can last the longest. And for many homeowners nervously contemplating four and five-figure re-roofings, longevity looks pretty good.

Lifespan: 5 years to One Decade.

Why: Asphalt roll roofing is a piker: it is better suited as a weekend DIY roofing project for your wood shed. Rule out using it for your home.

Make It Last Longer: There is little you can do to prolong asphalt roll’s lifespan. Make sure that it is free from debris.

6. Composite Shingle Roof

Lifespan: 15 years to HALF A CENTURY.

While they might poop out in as little as 15 years, composite shingles are cheap to purchase and install. Longevity predictions for composite/asphalt shingles vary wildly because the quality of this popular material varies wildly. That does not mean that your roof will last 50 years.

Make It Last Longer: Keep an eye out for cheap composite shingles that begin to shed grains even in the first year. Never power wash your composite shingle roof. Eliminate moss as soon as it begins to grow.

5. Wood Shingle Roof

Lifespan: 25 years.

Why: Wood is an organic material. Because of this it is prone to weathering and decay. Note that these are wood shingles, not shakes (see below). Since shingles are sawn from the log, they are flat and thin.

Cause It To Last Longer: Replace split and cracked shingles immediately. Control moss growth.

4. Standing Seam Metal Roof

Lifespan: 30 to 50 years.

Why: Pre-formed standing seam metal roofing is mainstream now. Besides, what could be stronger than metal overhead? Metal roofs are not for the average roofing company; make sure you contract with a company that specializes in metal roofing.

Make your roof Last Longer: Regularly walk your standing seam metal roof to look for fastener and sealant failures. Check for distressed, bent, or migrating panels.

3. Wood Shake Shingle Roof

Lifespan: 35-40 years.

Why: Wood shakes are much thicker than wood shingles (see above). Shakes are split or sawn from the log. These thicker shakes can stand up to weather and UV rays better than thin wood shingles.

Make It Last Longer: Thick wood shakes can last well over a quarter century, but you do need to baby them along with proper maintenance. There is no “set it and forget it” option for any kind of wood shingle. Remove debris as soon as it falls on the roof.

2. Clay (Spanish) Tile Roof

Lifespan: 100 years.

Why: Spanish tile roofs from the old California missions are still operational. Travel across Spain and South America and you will find even older Spanish tile roofs in reasonably good condition.

Cause It To Last Longer: Tile roofing’s Weak points is not decay (like wood shake or shingles) or the slow sloughing off of grains (like composite). Rather, cracking of these earthenware tiles is what usually dooms them. Avoid walking on your tile roof as much as possible. When efflorescence develops, buff off with a clean, dry towel. Coat with a clear alkyd primer. Replace cracked and broken tiles.

1. Slate Roof

Lifespan: 100+ years.

Why: Slate is so durable it makes all other roofing materials look like rice paper. Slate roofs from Shakespeare’s time are still hanging in there. Slate is real stone, parlayed thick on the roof. Adequate truss strength is required to hold up this heavy load.

Make It Last Longer: Immediately replace broken slate tiles. Make certain that all flashings are correctly installed and in great order. When your copper flashing has turned black, it is time to replace it.

Final Thoughts:

Never power wash your composite shingle roof. Metal roofs are not for the average roofing company; make sure you contract with a company that specializes in metal roofing.

Avoid walking on your tile roof as much as possible. Amazingly, Slate roofs from Shakespeare’s time are still holding tight.

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