Your home is where your heart is… and your wallet. It stands to reason that taking care of your home should be a top priority. Although most people own their own homes, not many have the experience and know-how needed when it comes to properly maintaining the roof.

What kinds of roofing are there? What is involved in replacing a roof? Should I do it myself? How often does a roof need to be replaced?

Read on for the answers to these common questions and more in this essential guide.

How Often Does a Roof Need to Be Replaced?

Roofs can last a lifetime, but not all roofs are the same. How long a roof lasts depends on what kind of roof it is and the weather conditions it has endured over the years.

30 – 50 years is a roof estimate for most kinds of roofing and weather conditions.

Types of Roofs

There are many options to choose from when replacing your roof. The roofing material you have now is not necessarily the best choice for your home. Let us take a look at the advantages of a few common roof types and their respective life expectancy.

Asphalt Shingles

By far the most common roof is asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are popular because of cost and reliability. There are many manufactures and grades of materials when it comes to asphalt shingles. Most asphalt shingles last 20 – 30 years before needing replacement.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are durable and long-lasting. You can expect a metal roof to do its job for 60 years or more. Metal roofing is considerably more expensive than asphalt shingles. Noisy in the rain and susceptible to hail damage are a few disadvantages.


Slate is a good option for wetter climates as it tends to resist moisture well. Slate roofing is fireproof and doesn’t mold or degrade quickly. The lifespan of a slate roof easily exceeds 100 years. However, slate roofs can break when stepped on and hail might damage them.

Rubber Slate

Rubber is a good material for roofs. Rubber slate roofs often last up to 100 years. They are especially good for steep pitches and roofs with lots of valleys and angles. The rubber fits into tight spots and keeps its seal over time.

Clay and Concrete Tiles

Tiles made of clay or concrete are best for warm dry climates. They are extremely durable and can stand up to storms and strong winds. However, they are heavy and the roof may need reinforcing to be sure it doesn’t collapse. Most clay and concrete tiles last around 50 years.

Solar Tiles

The latest in roofing technology, solar tiles are roof and solar panels in one. Most solar tiles are made from tempered glass and are virtually indestructible. Solar tiles are the most expensive option, but are the only option that will pay you back year after year in electricity savings.

Signs You May Need Roof Replacement

Unchecked, an easily repairable small problem could quickly become a full-scale roof emergency. Homeowners should perform inspections on their foundations, framing, windows, doors, and their roof at least once a year. Here are a few signs your roof needs some attention:

Check the Attic

The attic is where you will find the first clues that your roof is failing. Check for beams of light coming through the roof. Is the attic dry or is there a damp smell? Inspect the ceiling. If you see any wet spots, discoloration, or mold growing your roof most certainly needs repairs.

Inspect the Roof

The best way to know how your roof is doing is to give it a visit. Take caution. Climbing ladders and walking around on a roof is a dangerous undertaking.

Once you’re up there, examine the shingles for wear. The roof should lay flat. Are there shingles that have come loose? Is there any warping of the roof? Are there any weak spots that give when you put weight on it? All surefire signs your roof is in trouble.

If you have an asphalt shingle roof a quick look in the gutters will give you an idea of how worn the roof is. Gutters that are filling up with asphalt indicate the roof has worn down and its protection has weakened.

Valleys and seems where parts of the roof come together often fill up with leaves, twigs, and dirt. These spots also tend to collect moisture and over time weaken that area of the roof.

It is never a good idea to let debris build up on the roof. When you run into buildup take a broom and clean the area off. Check the roof below for cracks in seams and damage to the roofing material.

Check Seals

Leaks causing damage to the roof could be coming in from a bad or damaged seal. Check for problems with the flashing and sealant around your chimney and roof vents. If you have a skylight check that the roof seal is intact.

A common roofing mistake is to use roofing cement to install flashing where chimneys and ventilation ducts meet the roof. Use roofing cement to fill cracks and holes of damaged spots on the roof. It is not meant to seal seams in the roof. It will eventually crack and compromise the seal. If you see roofing cement used in place of tar it will need to be redone properly.

What Do Your Records Say?

When was the roof last replaced or repairs? Is the roof under warranty? How much time has passed since the warranty expired? Chances are if the roof is older than its life expectancy it has outlived its usefulness.

Replacing a Roof

As far as home improvement jobs go, replacing a roof is one of the big ones. A new roof means hundreds of hours of labor and tons of material removed and replaced. It is dangerous and difficult work requiring experience and training to do properly.

According to real estate appraisers, the condition of your home’s roof is one of the biggest factors in its value. There is no doubt that a new roof will cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. Considering the cost and how important the job is for your home it is best if you know what you are getting into. Here is a breakdown of the process:

Inspection and Quote

Once the roof is inspected and replacement recommended, you will need to crunch the numbers. The cost of the roofing materials and labor are then put to paper in a quote.

You may want to have a couple of contractors inspect the roof and give you a quote. Different contractors may have different opinions about what your roofing needs are. Not to mention quotes could vary by thousands of dollars from one contractor to another. It pays to shop around.

Tear Off

The old roof is removed down to the plywood. Any damaged plywood or support beams need to be replaced.

The old roof is then thrown in a dumpster and hauled away. The whole thing is a messy job. The gutters will likely need cleaning. Nails and small debris will have to be carefully removed from the yard and driveway.

Installing the New Roof

The roofing material will have to either be delivered to the roof with heavy equipment or humped up ladders. Roofers will nail down the felt or apply a sealant to the exposed roof.

The new roof is then installed according to strict codes. Roofers take special care to keep the naked roof protected from rain and snow. If the roof needs left overnight tarps are used to cover the roof in case of rain.

Should I Do It Myself?

Replacing your roof is far from a weekend DIY project. Roof replacement is complicated and hard work. Mistakes when roofing can not only look bad but cause damage to your home and lower property value. Unless you have the tools, know-how, and are willing to put in a week or more of back-breaking work, it is best to leave the job of replacing your roof with the trained professionals.

Stay Dry and Happy

Now that you know the answer to “How often does a roof need to be replaced,” ask yourself how your roof is holding up.

If you don’t know the answer, it may be time to find out! When the roof has reached its end, contractors will be able to tell you right away with an onsite inspection.

Replacing your roof doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. It is one of the biggest investments you will make, but don’t ignore the peace of mind it will bring you for years to come.

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