How Often Do Roofs Need to Be Replaced?

January 23, 2023
It’s no coincidence the phrase “a roof over your head” means a place to stay sheltered from the elements. Your roof protects your home from the wind and rain. It keeps the snow out and the heat inside in winter. And in summer, it keeps the heat out and cooler air indoors. But like everything else, roofs have a life span. As they age and weather, proper maintenance can give your roof a little extra longevity. There comes a point, however, when it’s time for a new one. How often do roofs need to be replaced? It depends on a number of things, starting with what material they are made of. Climate, temperatures, and weather conditions also play a part. Here we’ll discuss the average longevity of a roof and things that could mean your roof needs replacing sooner.

Roofing Materials

There are actually many and varied options when it comes to roofing.

Asphalt Shingles

At Interstate Roofing, we work with a lot of asphalt shingles because they are the most cost-effective, easy-to-install option. Currently, more than 75 percent of US homes have asphalt shingle roofs. Asphalt shingles are elegant, have curb appeal, and come in a wide range of color tones and even dimensional shapes.
  • 3-Tab Shingles: Flat, 3-tab shingles were the most popular type of asphalt shingle for decades, and they are still widely used. Many manufacturers claim 3-tab shingles last 20 to 25 years. Realistically, few homeowners will get the maximum life span out of their shingle roof. Also, it’s best not to wait until the absolute end of a roof’s life before replacing it. But if a shingle roof has been properly installed, and the attic is well-ventilated, 3-tab shingles can certainly last a good 20 years.
  • Architectural Shingles: Architectural shingles are another type of asphalt shingle. They are thicker and heavier than 3-tab shingles, with better waterproofing and wind resistance. These shingles are also more durable, with longer manufacturer’s warranties. Most manufacturers market these shingles as “lifetime,” but don’t be fooled. Though the quality of the material and installation may be excellent, most roofing contractors don’t believe they will last a “lifetime.”   Other common roofing materials include:

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are comparable in life span to asphalt ones. Their appearance improves as they age, but they need regular maintenance and should be kept free of leaves, moss, and mold. With proper care and in a temperate climate, however, wood shingles can last even longer than asphalt.

Wood Shakes

Thicker than wood shingles, wood shakes are more solid and weather-resistant. With proper maintenance, some wood shingle roofs can last up to 30 years. Note: the installation of cedar is a bit of a dying art.


Clay or concrete tiles are one of the most resilient roofing materials there is. Because they are so heavy, any roof built for tiles will be extra strong and reinforced. This alone contributes to the longevity of a roof. Tiles also require care and can get cracked or broken by debris in storms. But when in good shape, a tile roof can last a half-century at least and sometimes almost double that. Note: The tiles themselves can last for decades, but the system will likely fail far before the tile. Many people choose to have the tile removed, underlayment, and flashings replaced and then the tile reinstalled.

Other Factors Affecting How Often Roofs Need to Be Replaced

As well as materials, factors like maintenance, weather and climate, ventilation and unattended damage can shorten the lifespan of a roof. One simple way to assess how many years of life a roof has left is to take a look at it. You’ll see for yourself what state of wear it is in, as well as signs of damage. That’s why it’s advisable to get your roof checked thoroughly once a year, ideally by an expert who knows exactly what to look for and where to look for signs of weakness.


Asphalt shingles, being small and light, may get dislodged by repeated high winds. They are also easily damaged if branches or other solid objects are blown onto the roof. Individual shingles can also corrode. A damaged shingle roof might leak or have other issues, but fortunately, asphalt shingles are easy to repair or replace.

Unnoticed or Untreated Damage

Signs of damage, wear, or aging need to be detected early to avoid getting worse and shortening the life span of your roof. Regular maintenance by your roofing contractor can catch minor issues before they become larger problems and keep your roof looking and working great all year.

Leaks and Holes

Sunlight peeking through the roof up in the attic may indicate holes—and is a sign your roof may need to be replaced very soon, especially if there are holes in many different areas. Any hole is big enough to let water in when it rains, so it’s definitely time to have the roof checked.

Moisture Stains and Water Damage

If you see damp patches on the attic floor or up in the insulation beneath the roof, you know water is getting inside. Constantly damp areas can become home to mold or mildew which are bad both for your roof and your health. Yellow or brown circular stains on the ceiling or streaks down any inside walls also indicate that moisture is seeping into your home from the roof above. They are a sure sign the roof is in poor shape, and you should call a roofing expert before more damage is done.

Exterior Damage

It’s good to check your roof from the outside too, for visible signs of areas that need attention. Healthy shingles should lie flat and even against your roof. If they’re curling or buckling, your roof needs attention. If some are cracked, or even missing, they’ll need replacing. If moss is growing in shady areas, you may have a damp problem. The extent of the damage will determine if your roof needs replacing. As we have seen, how often a roof needs to be replaced depends on different factors. At Interstate Roofing, we know that proper care is the key to the long life of any roof. We’re always happy to help with regular, thorough checks and any minor repairs to help maximize your roof’s life span.