How Long Do Asphalt Roofs Last (2024)

By Updated February 6, 2024

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Homeowners can expect an asphalt roof, the most popular roofing type in the United States, to last at least 15 years before it requires replacement. An asphalt roof’s life span can vary based on the type of shingle, roof maintenance and cleaning, and more.

Use our guide below to learn more about how long asphalt roofs last and common signs that it’s time to consider a new roof.


Life Span by Shingle Type

The type of shingle you select for your roof will typically dictate how long a roof lasts. Asphalt shingles come in three types: three-tab, architectural shingles, and premium shingles.

Three-tab shingles are the most affordable type of asphalt shingle and have an average life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. This type of shingle is thin, flat, and about 12 inches wide and 36 inches long. Warranties for this type of shingle typically last between 20 and 30 years, and three-tab shingles can withstand winds of up to 60 miles per hour.

Architectural shingles, sometimes called dimensional shingles, are thicker and more durable than three-tab shingles. Homeowners can customize this type of roof shingle to look like high-end materials such as cedar shakes. Architectural shingles have a life span of 25 to 30 years, resist winds up to 110 miles per hour, and come with warranties between 30 and 50 years.

Premium architectural shingles are the highest-quality asphalt shingles available and are thicker and more rounded than other types. These types of shingles often mimic wood shake or slate shingles and can last 30 to 50 years. Premium shingles can withstand winds of up to 130 miles per hour and typically come with both roof manufacturer warranties and installation warranties.

Here’s how shingle types and their respective expected life spans compare:

Shingle TypeAverage Life Span

3-Tab

15-20 years

Architectural

25-30 years

Premium

30-50 years


Factors Impacting Longevity

Several elements influence how long asphalt roofs last, such as the quality of installation, the climate and weather conditions in your area, roof slope, how well you maintain and clean your roof, attic ventilation, and more.

Regional climate and severe weather can have a significant effect on your asphalt roof’s life span. Extreme temperature swings can cause shingles to expand and contract quickly, leading to cracked or split shingles. Roofs in areas with severe weather, such as hail, tornadoes, and hurricanes, may experience shorter life spans. High winds can loosen shingles and lead to roof leaks.

Your asphalt roof’s slope determines how quickly it sheds water and snow, which also affects the roof’s life span. Water is more likely to accumulate on a flat roof and cause potential water damage. The International Association of Home Inspectors, which spells out specific slope requirements, maintains that asphalt does not drain water quickly enough from low-pitch roofs.

Improper installation of asphalt roofs can also lead to big problems, such as cracked or loose tiles, roof leaks, and poor attic ventilation. These can lead to other issues, such as mold and mildew, which can damage your home’s structure. Proper installation and care can extend the life of your asphalt roof.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Performing regular roof inspections and cleaning, repairing damaged shingles, and catching potential problems early can extend your roof’s life span. Inspect your roof after major storms, and look for any signs of damage. Remove branches, and clear your gutters of any debris. Clogged gutters can lead to water overflow, which can damage your roof, siding, and foundation.

Moss and algae that grow on your roof can cause problems for your asphalt roof and shorten its life span. Our guide on how to remove moss from roofs covers how to address growth.

Attic Ventilation

Your roof and attic need proper ventilation. Good airflow prevents buildup of heat and moisture, which can cause premature breakdown of roofing. Signs of this include cracked shingles, adhesive deterioration, mold growth, and swollen trusses.

Attic insulation can help regulate your roof’s temperature and protect your roof from ice dams in colder climates. Adding insulation costs as little as $0.50 per foot, but the price will ultimately depend on the type of insulation involved. Spray foam insulation costs between $2 and $7.50 per square foot, for example.

Cost data in this article was sourced from HomeAdvisor, Angi, and Fixr.


Signs You Need a New Roof

There are a handful of telltale signs that you need a new roof. If you notice any, you may want to contact a roof inspector to determine your next steps, which may include roof repair or replacing a portion of the roof. 

The telltale signs you may need a new roof are:

Call a roofing professional as soon as possible if you encounter any of these issues. Most homeowners need a new roof when their asphalt roof is around 20 years old, but you may need one sooner if you encounter severe weather or if your roof fails prematurely.


Asphalt vs. Other Roofs

shorter life span. Another popular roofing option is metal, which has a life span of at least 50 years. Metal is more durable than asphalt and is more resistant to fire and insects.

Clay tile roofs can last up to 100 years, and homeowners frequently choose this material for its aesthetic appeal and durability. Slate can last more than 100 years, but the upfront cost of a slate roof is high.

Here’s a chart with more details on metal versus asphalt roofs and other popular roofing materials.

Roof TypeAverage Life SpanUnique Benefits

Asphalt

15–50 years

Affordable, easy installation

Metal

50+ years

Durable, fire/insect resistant

Clay tile

50–100 years

Aesthetic appeal, durability

Slate

100+ years

Elegant look, extreme durability


Roof Replacement Cost

A new roof costs between $5,700 and $12,500, or $10,000 on average. The price depends on the materials, labor, home size, and location involved.

The cost of a new asphalt shingle roof ranges from $3.50 to $5.50 per square foot, or between $6,000 and $13,500, depending on the roof’s size and the type of asphalt shingles you select. This is generally less expensive than other types of roofing, such as metal roofing, which costs between $5,600 and $17,000, or tile roofing, which ranges from $8,600 to $26,500.


Our Recommendation

An asphalt roof’s life span depends on the quality of materials and installation, climate and weather conditions in your area, roof slope, attic ventilation, and more. Most homeowners can expect a life span of at least 15 years. We recommend that you inspect and maintain your roof regularly and ask roofers about shingle options with the longest expected life spans.

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What is the average life span of an asphalt shingle roof?

An asphalt shingle roof will last for 15 years or more. Three-tab shingles can last as long as 20 years with proper installation and upkeep, and higher-quality asphalt shingles can last between 25 and 50 years.

How long do 30-year asphalt shingles really last?

Architectural and premium shingles can last 30 years or longer if they are installed properly and maintained well. Higher-quality shingles are a significant investment, but they don’t need to be replaced as frequently as lower-grade materials.

Do 50-year shingles last 50 years?

The only asphalt shingles that last up to 50 years are premium shingles, but other u003ca href=u0022https://www.architecturaldigest.com/reviews/roofing/best-type-of-roofu0022u003etypes of roofing materialsu003c/au003e can last longer. Severe weather, sun exposure, and a low roof pitch can shorten your roof’s life span.

What climate is worst for u003ca href=u0022https://www.architecturaldigest.com/reviews/roofing/asphalt-roof-repairu0022u003easphalt roofsu003c/au003e?

Areas that experience drastic temperature swings or are especially exposed to the sun or UV rays are particularly harmful to asphalt roofs. High winds, rain, and ice can also cause serious problems.

What roofing material lasts the longest?

Concrete, clay, and slate tiles last the longest among u003ca href=u0022https://www.architecturaldigest.com/reviews/roofing/best-type-of-roofu0022u003eroofing materialsu003c/au003e. Some types of slate last up to 150 years before they need replacement.