Roof Life Expectancy

by | Nov 1, 2022

Your Roof – Arguably the most important part of your home

The roof of a home is a critical component that protects the occupants from the elements and helps to maintain a sound structure by shedding water and snow melt away from the building. The life expectancy of roof sheathing and covering materials can depend on a variety of factors, such as local weather conditions, building and design characteristics, material quality, and adequate maintenance. Hot climates have a tendency to drastically reduce the lifespan of asphalt shingles due to their more fragile composition. Areas that experience frequent inclement weather conditions such as the high winds or increased frequency of hail storms we’ve experienced in Calgary may shorten roof lifespans overall or they may suffer from isolated damage that necessitates repair in order to retain its service life.

In addition to material type and climate conditions, roofing materials also react differently over time depending on exposure levels to ultraviolet rays. For instance, one side of your roof may have more deterioration than the other simply due to its orientation with respect to the sun. We won’t even get into the quality of installation to roofing components, but there is a lot to consider: roof covering, sheathing, underlay, fasteners, flashings, plumbing stacks, vents, skylights, chimney, soffits, gutters, and even the insulation in the attic all have a role to fill and require a quality install that’s up-to-date with the latest building standards. 

Roof Life Expectancy

Roof life expectancy by material

Now, let’s remove the exhaustive list of variables affecting a roof’s lifespan for just a moment. The following table provided by InterNACHI® provides us a starting point to help set up our general roof life expectations based on the type of covering we have or are looking to install:
Aluminum Coating 3 to 7
Asphalt Shingles (3-tab) 20
Asphalt (architectural) 30
BUR (built-up roofing) 30
Clay/Concrete 100+
Coal and Tar 30
Copper 70+
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) Rubber 15 to 25
Fiber Cement 25
Green (vegetation-covered) 5 to 40
Metal 40 to 80
Modified Bitumen 20
Simulated Slate 10 to 35
Slate 60 to 150
TPO 7 to 20
Wood 25

Bold roof coverings denote materials commonly used throughout the Calgary area.

Roof Inspection in Snow

Age of the Roof

Due to the complexity in aging a roof it’s not uncommon for an inspector to refrain from attempting to tell you the age of the roof. To be truthful, it’s unlikely your inspector can accurately age the roof themselves. At best they’re likely to narrow the age of your roof down to a range. Instead an inspector will communicate to you the  general condition of the roof.  Examples may include: the roof is newer/ recently installed, is in good condition but has isolated damage/ is in need of repairs, or the roof is nearing the edge of its expected life cycle and likely needs to be replaced soon. At the end of the day it’s this information that’s more critical for a homeowner anyways. A shingled roof may have a 20-30 year life expectancy at the time of installation, but if an inspector jumps on the roof and discovers it was poorly installed or severely weather damaged you’ll need to know to replace the roof regardless of the fact it was only installed 5 years ago.  


Remember that with proper care and maintenance in conjunction with selecting roofing materials suitable for the climate and region, homeowners can extend the life expectancy of their roof significantly. Furthermore, proper attic insulation can help protect roofs from extreme temperature fluctuations that lead to accelerated wear-and-tear.  By understanding all of these environmental aspects as well as other considerations such as budget constraints or aesthetic preferences when selecting roofing materials or designs, homeowners can make informed decisions that maximize roof life expectancy while still satisfying personal needs and desires.

A few simple tips for maintaining and extending roof life:

  • Minimize walking on your roof surface (use a ladder for accessing gutters)
  • Clean your gutters!
  • Trim back tree branches to avoid contact with the roof.

A couple extra tips for the more adventurous types:

  • Remove snow with a roof rake. Specifically after the days of 20-30cm snowfalls that Calgary is susceptible to. The snow itself is incredibly heavy (as those of us who shovel are aware) and this places a tremendous load on the roof. While our roofs are designed for these snow loads we can help alleviate this stress on our homes.
  • Look up at your ceilings and poke your head in the attic. Once all the snow begins to melt this is the perfect time to investigate for signs of leaks or moisture.

Aside from these you can simply do your own visual inspection next time you’re in the yard by checking for:

  • Missing or cracked roofing materials
  • Curling or lifting shingles
  • Damaged or leaky gutters
  • Watch for ice dams forming during the winter months
Roof Inspection Calgary