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How Long Does a Roof Last in North Carolina?

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Are you getting a new roof? Or has your roof been around a while? 

Either way, you should know how long your roof is supposed to last, and how close you are to needing a roof replacement. This is easier said than done, and though there are a few indicators that can tell you your roof’s age, it’s always a good reference to know how long it should be lasting. 

Here in North Carolina, we get ALL kinds of weather, which can put some strain on your roof. 

In this article, we’ll break down how long you can expect different roofing materials to last in NC, and then tell you some of the factors that can affect how much life a roof has. 

Let’s get started! 

How long do asphalt shingle roofs last in NC? 

The most important thing to know when talking about how long a roof will last is the material of the roof. Here in North Carolina, especially in the Raleigh area, asphalt shingle roofs are the most popular option for new construction homes, and homes getting a roof replacement. There are three main types of asphalt shingles to be aware of, each with its own look, price point, and durability. Those being 3-Tab, Architectural, and Luxury. 

1. 3-Tab  

three tab shingles_WebP

3-Tab shingles are very common on new-construction homes, and have the lowest price point among asphalt shingles. That being said, they also have the shortest lifespan of the other asphalt shingles. 3-Tab's have a single ply design, so they are a bit thinner than other materials, and their durability suffers for it. If you have a properly maintained 3-Tab Shingle roof, it should last between 15-20 years, and we’d recommend looking into getting it replaced around that 15-year mark, to be safe.  

2. Architectural 

architectural shingles_WebP

In the last few decades, architectural shingles have become by far the most common roofing material in the United States. Though they used to be significantly more expensive than 3-tabs, in recent years the gap in price has shrunk, so more and more often people are turning to architectural shingles. They have a two-ply design, and as a result are much thicker and sturdier than 3-tab shingles, increasing their lifespan to around 30 years. 

3. Luxury 

luxury shingles_WebP

At the high end of the cost and durability spectrum, are Luxury shingles. These shingles are far heavier than even architectural shingles, so the risk of them becoming damaged by wind and weather is significantly reduced. Because of this, you likely won’t need to have any significant repairs done until pretty close to the roof's lifespan. Luxury shingles will probably last around 30 years, and in good conditions can get pretty far past that number. 

What about other roofing materials? 

Though asphalt roofs are the most common roofs in North Carolina, because of the state’s diverse geography and weather patterns, we see plenty of other kinds of roofs as well. Metal roofs are definitely the second most common, with wood and tile rounding out the list. 

1. Metal 

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When it comes to metal roofs, you probably have seen one of two different kinds: Standing-seam, and screw-down panel. Standing-seam roofs have one of the longest lifespans of any roofing material, lasting around 50 years in good conditions, and potentially more. Screw-down panels on the other hand, won’t last nearly as long, especially when put over a heated space like a home.  

This is because metal expands and contracts as it heats and cools. Screw-down panels are screwed to your roof’s frame, and don’t allow the metal to move as freely, causing the screws to work out of their holes over time, breaking the seals and creating leaks in the roof. Because of those durability issues, screw-down panels are not recommended for homes. 

2. Wood 

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Using wood for roofing primarily comes in two forms: wood shake, and wood shingles. The main difference comes up to look, as shakes are hand split and looks more natural, while shingles are cut by machine. Both should last around 30 years in good conditions, but wood roofs require lots of maintenance, as they aren’t super weather resistant, and are especially susceptible to fire damage. 

3. Slate and Ceramic Tiles 

ceramic roof shingles_WebP

Slate tiles might be the most durable roofing material out there, on paper. The individual tiles themselves can last around a century, and they are very weather resistant. However, if your roofing system isn’t built to handle the immense weight of them, you’re greatly increasing the risk of a roof collapse in the future. 

Ceramic tiles are much lighter than slate, and can last 50-70 years with the right conditions, but we don’t see many of them around North Carolina, as the changing weather and rain tends to wear them down much quicker than that lifespan. 

What factors affect the lifespan of a roof? 

So now you know how long these different roofing materials SHOULD last, what happens to shorten that lifespan? The main factors that will affect the lifespan of a roof are: the attic’s ventilation, how well the roof was installed, and the weather conditions that impact your roof. 

1. Ventilation 

Ensuring your attic is properly ventilated is probably the best way to ensure your roof lasts its full lifespan. Having an attic that isn’t ventilated can lead to moisture building up, and your roof’s decking rotting and needing to be replaced. It can also create ice dams when it snows in the winter, which can severely damage your gutter system.  

2. Workmanship 

If your roof wasn’t installed correctly, there’s a really strong chance it won’t get to live its full life. Poor workmanship can create so many problems, from leaks to damaged shingles. If you want to learn more about what might cause some of these problems, check out our blog on the 5 Causes of Improper Roof Installation. 

3. Weather Conditions 

Here in North Carolina, we get pretty much every type of weather at some point or another, and our roofs have to face the brunt of it. Their job is to keep us from dealing with it, after all. Asphalt shingles can handle weather pretty well, depending on which kind you get. As they get heavy sun exposure, they’ll start to slowly break down, and the wind and rain will knock off some of the granules that make up the shingle. That exposure is factored into its lifespan, so chances are normal weather won’t drastically shorten it. 

Severe weather like hail, tornadoes, or hurricanes will have a higher chance of causing damage, but if the roofing system is properly installed, you should only need a simple repair to get things back into top condition. 

Not sure how much life your roof has left? 

After reading this, hopefully you have a better idea about how much life your roof has left in it, and some things to take note of that can affect the longevity of your roof. 

Still not quite sure? Get in touch with us for a free roof inspection! We’d love to take a look to help you figure out where your roof is in its lifespan. 

On Tops Roofing has been serving Raleigh and the Greater Triangle area since 1991. We’ve repaired and replaced over 30,000 roofs, so whatever your roofing project needs, we are happy to help. 

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