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How Long Does a Roof Last For?

In the roofing industry, one of the most frequently asked questions is how long does a roof last. Now, that’s something which doesn’t come with one definitive answer.

Factors like weather, quality of materials and even installation quality all impact the life expectancy of a tiled or metal roof.

It always pays to do your research for a new build or renovations. Without further ado, here’s what you need to know.

How Long Do Roof Tiles Last?

Terracotta, concrete or slate, they all last for different periods of time. Unique reactions to the weather and individual material quality mean you can expect several outcomes.

Terracotta Tile Roof Lifespan

As a matter of semantics, we’ll make a quick clarification: terms like clay and terracotta are interchangeable. In Australia you will hear terracotta used more frequently, referring to the material rather than the colour itself.

Meanwhile, although ceramic tiles are kiln fired like clay, they are a different structure and style.

Terracotta roof tiles are weather resistant and impervious to rust and corrosion. Their durability is even enhanced by the sun, which continues to cure the clay and strengthen the tile over time.

On average, terracotta roofs last for 50 years. Individual tiles may break during this time, however, 5 decades is certainly achievable with proper maintenance. In fact, some tiled roofs can last for 100 years or more if cared for properly!

Although modern terracotta and ceramic tiles are frost resistant, warmer climates are best. Colder conditions can cause tiles to freeze and thaw, reducing their life expectancy.

Concrete Tile Roof Lifespan

Cement, or concrete, roof tiles are almost as durable as terracotta with an average lifespan of 40-50 years. One of the major similarities is the fact that sunlight and natural heat strengthens the tiles with additional curing.

However, as there’s some additional weight, the underlayment and support structure plays a role in just how long cement lasts.

Minimal upkeep and maintenance is required, while concrete is also a great barrier to natural weather events like storms and strong winds.

Slate Tile Roof Lifespan

Although slate is less common in Australia, it is weather resistant, low maintenance and incredibly resilient.

There are two types of slate, hard or soft. Hard slate has a wide lifespan from between 75 to 200 years (yep, 200) while soft slate roof tiles last between 50 to 125 years. The quality of slate will certainly influence how long it lasts, hence the disparity.

Due to the weight, one of the most important points to note is your roof’s structural support. If the roof cannot withstand or support slate, then the tiles will crack and break down sooner.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Metal Roof?

Metal roofs are built to last. They are durable, easy to install and cost effective. You can expect metal roofing to last anywhere from 40 years through to 70 – or more!

When compared to tiled roofs, metal sheets are traditionally better at sealing out water and avoiding mould, moss and rot. Salt and moisture will have an impact, however, especially in homes along the coast.

In terms of the actual materials, aluminium and steel last for roughly 50 years without the need for replacement. Zinc and copper, which is rarer as a roofing material, can often stretch past 100 years.

How Long Will Other Roofing Materials Hold Up For?

Other contributing factors to how long a roof will last are the overall build quality and additional materials used. This includes the mortar used to hold together ridge caps, flashing, gutters, etc.

Mortar cracks with age and the bonds weaken. Likewise, the flexible pointing compound which holds tiles in place will also break down over time. It’s natural wear and tear but can be a hazard if tiles become dislodged or fall off the roof.

There’s no definitive timeline on how long mortar lasts, but the recommendation is to undergo repointing and rebedding every 10 years or so. It’s not a job that requires your whole roof to be torn up, so don’t worry about an invasive, time consuming event.

Meanwhile, underlayment protects roofs from moisture and rainfall, ensuring water doesn’t damage your home. Underlayment lasts for approximately 20-30 years, therefore you may have to replace it at some stage.

Should I Be Worried About My Roof?

In summary, should you be worried about how long your roof will last? Yes and no. The key is keeping an eye out for any damage and making sure it is properly maintained.

Negligence is the biggest issue when it comes to the lifespan of a roof. So if you have any doubts about how yours is holding up, contact Jim’s Roofing for a professional inspection.