The longest lasting roofs are generally made of materials that decay very slowly, such as concrete, clay, and slate. Roofs made of metal are also very long lasting. Asphalt shingle and wood shingle roofs tend to have the shortest lifespans.

Long Lasting Roofing Materials

When determining the longest lasting roof, one major factor is the quality of the roofing material. Cement and clay have been used for roofing and shelter for thousands of years. Many ancient buildings boast clay or concrete roofs that are centuries old. Slate shingles, which are made of stone, are also very long lasting.

Metal has also been in use for roofing for centuries. Historically, copper was a common metal for roofing. It reacts well to the elements and doesn’t need any extra coating to keep it from rusting. It is also soft and relatively easy to work with. In addition to its long lifespan and ease of use, builders have always used copper roofing for its beauty, both in its raw and weathered states.

What is The Longest Lasting Roof [infographic]

Slate Roofs

Slate is a type of stone that is laid directly onto a roof. It is heavy and incredibly durable. Slate is also impervious to pests and rot. It is a beautiful roofing material often chosen for it’s looks, especially for traditional or historic designs.

One thing to take think about when using slate shingles is the weight of the material. Slate, being stone, is very heavy. Not every house can support a full slate roof. Slate roofing may require extra trusses to support the weight of a stone roof. However, when it comes to longevity, slate roofs are about as good as it gets, easily lasting over 100 years.

Concrete Tiles

People have used concrete as a building and roofing material for thousands of years. You can find many cement structures built centuries or even millennia age still standing.

Modern concrete tiles come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and colors. They can mimic the look of many other roofing materials. Some can be made to look like slate. Other styles replicate the look of traditional clay tiles. Cement can be made into tiles in the Spanish style or the mission style common in the American Southwest. Some modern clay tiles are even produced to look like organic materials such as wood shake or shingles.

Concrete tiles have many advantages. They generally have an A fire rating, meaning they are the most fire resistant. They also resist damage from insects and animals. However, there are some drawbacks. A cement roof can be heavy. A lot also depends on how the cement roof is installed. Water from blowing rain or snow may be able to penetrate the spaces between shingles. That can making the uderlayment especially important. The tiles themselves are often given a watertight coating.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles are another traditional roofing material with a long history and great longevity. Baked clay as a structural material is about as old as civilization itself. It’s use as a roofing material goes back thousands of years, and many clay tile roofs are still standing centuries after they were installed.

Modern clay tiles take a number of styles, from the traditional to the modern. Both the Ancient Greeks and the Spanish missions made use of  the barrel tile. The barrel tile is so called because of its curved shape. It is usually red and has a very traditional look. Its red color reflects the natural color of the terra cotta material. Barrel tile is often chosen for its specific look in addition to its longevity. Flat clay shingles provide a traditional European look. Like barrel tiles, many builders choose these tiles for their unique look. Modern styles of clay tile can mimic the look of shake, slate, or even wood. Many manufacturers also produce interlocking clay tiles, reducing the time and cost for installation.

Metal Roofs

Copper roofs have been around for centuries, but modern steel roofing is a relatively recent innovation. Like modern cement and clay roofs, metal roofing mimics a number of other more traditional styles. Metal roofing can refer to a number of different materials. Coated steel is most common metal roofing material. Other metal roofing materials include aluminum and various alloys. Some roofs are even made with stainless steel, though it tends to be a much more expensive option.

Metal roofs have a long lifespan. They are often warrantied for 50 years, and can last even longer. The ultimate lifetime of a metal roof depends a lot on the type of material and how well it is installed. Eagle Watch Roofing hires expert craftsmen who provide excellent service and will get your job done right the first time, ensuring maximum durability for your roof.

Asphalt Shingle

Asphalt shingle is the most common roofing material, though it is hardly the longest lasting roof. It’s price and ease of installation makes it incredibly popular. However, compared to stone, clay, or metal, asphalt shingle has a relatively short lifespan. Most asphalt shingle needs to be replaced every 20-30 years. Some premium asphalt shingle is warrantied for 50 years. Because it is a manufactured material, its durability varies significantly by manufacturer and product.

Asphalt shingle uses tar adhesive to bond the overlapping shingles together. When installed in the right conditions, this adhesive bond is very strong and resists leaking. The lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof can be extended with proper care. Individual shingles should be replaced any time they shows signs of wear. Similarly, an asphalt shingle roof should be inspected after a severe storm or other severe weather and repaired as necessary. Regular maintenance and repair can greatly extend the lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof.

Shake and Wood Shingles

Wood is an organic material and is susceptible to pests, insects, and rot. Shake tends to last longer than regular wood shingles, but any wooden roofing material will have the shortest lifespan among common roofing materials. A good wooden roof will probably need replacing after 20 years.

The advantages of wooden roofing are both aesthetic and practical. Many homeowners prefer the look of wood shingles or shake. Also, wood shingles are relatively simple and cheap to install.

The Importance of Underlayment

Many homeowners have never even heard of underlayment. But underlayment is very significant to the longevity of your roof. Underlayment is a material laid directly on the roof and underneath the shingles. Generally, the two types of underlayment used on homes are felt and synthetics. Underlayment is water resistant, not waterproof, but it serves as a good emergency barrier in the case of damage to the shingles above it. In the case of asphalt shingles, it prevents shingles from bonding directly to the plywood roofing, making it easier to remove when the time comes to replace the roof.

Not all roofs require underlayment, but it is important to consider, as it can be the achilles heel of even the longest lasting roof. A low quality of underlayment can limit the longevity of otherwise long lasting roofing materials. But when you look at historic buildings that used slate, clay, and concrete tiles, none of them used underlayment. Yet they still function today. This just demonstrates that underlayment is important to consider, but not necessary in every situation.

Do You Need the Longest Lasting Roof

The choice of materials for your roof is a balance between longevity, cost, structural concerns, and aesthetics. Just going for the longest lasting material may not always be the right choice. At Eagle Watch Roofing, we can help with your roof repair or your complete roof replacement. Our experts will be happy to discuss your options and install the best roof for your home.