8 Factors that Affect Your Roof's Lifespan

There are many different roofing types, from industrial to residential. Materials vary based on building design, climate, and customer preference. As you might imagine, the amount of time your roof can last depends on a variety of factors, some of which are under your control. For all the others, it’s just the luck of the draw.

If you own a home or business, it’s important to be aware of what kind of roof you have. This will help you determine when and how to maintain your roof. You'll also know if you need to invest in a roof replacement in the near future.

Below you’ll find eight different contributing factors to roof lifespan. Think about each one as you consider how to treat and maintain your own roof.

1. Material Types

Here are the most common roofing types you’ll come into contact with, as well as their average life expectancy:


Wood shingles: 30 to 40 years

Galvalume or metal roofing: 30 to 45 years

Laminate shingles: 24 to 30 years

Asphalt shingles: 15 to 18 years


Built-up or modified bitumen: 10 to 16 years

Single ply: 15 to 25 years

EPDM: 10 to 16 years

Concrete tile: 35 to 50 years

2. Climate and Precipitation

What you should focus on is that the above lifespans are average life expectancies. Understand that abnormal climates and other factors can lower or lengthen life expectancies. Canada has a humid and precipitation-heavy climate. This environment can cause up to a 20% shorter lifespan than some manufacturers' claims.

3. Roof Colour

Darker roofs will always absorb more heat. This factor usually contributes to increased breakage, melting, and the need for repair and eventual replacement. Keep in mind that while EPDM or rubber roofs have many virtues, their dark black colouring makes them vulnerable to heat.

4. Sun Exposure

Heat can wear down any substance over time. Hot, sunny climates and heightened altitudes are especially subject to heat-shortened roof lifespans. Since many parts of Alberta are located at heightened altitudes, it puts your roof closer to the rays of the sun.

5. Roof Pitch

Also known as slope or angle, the pitch of the roof describes how steep its incline is. In some areas, an extreme pitch is not only wise for precipitation run-off, but it’s also the latest aesthetic style. Other areas seem to favour a lessened pitch. As always, fads vary from place to place and through seasons.

Before you commit to a certain pitch, know that higher pitched roofs tend to last longer. This is because they do well at preventing damming, seepage, and other problems. A roof ventilation system can do much to protect against moisture, but pitch lets gravity do most the work for you.

6. Roof Ventilation

The purpose behind roof ventilation isn’t just to control moisture. Unvented roofs are vulnerable in so many ways, whether you live in a sunny and hot climate or wet and cloudy one. Roofs without proper ventilation are more vulnerable to all types of weather conditions, and will deteriorate faster.

Make sure your roof has a functioning roof ventilation system. You can consult your Calgary roofing company regarding the best place for this system. Many providers install ventilation in your attic, or underneath the initial roof layer.

Proper roof ventilation will help your roof weather the storms, sun, and other outdoor elements.

7. Roof Orientation

Have you ever noticed how north-facing homes tend to keep snow in the front yard longer? This is because of the tilt of the earth – south-facing objects always receive more sunlight. As a result, south-facing homes (or any surface, for that matter) receive more heat.

We stated before that increased amounts of heat shorten the lifespan of your roof, and that remains true here too. As the sun beats down upon south-facing roofs, it lowers their chances of meeting life expectancy. Consider this especially if you are completing new construction on a home or building.

8. Roof Age

For many, your roof and its current situation came with the purchase of your home or current office building. This is why it’s so important to obtain a valid roof inspection before ever considering a property. If you’ve already purchased a home or business only to find out the roof is lacking, consider making repairs now rather than later.

Aging roofs are never going to last forever, no matter how good the original construction was. However, with regular repairs and careful monitoring, you can prolong the life of older roofs. The key is watchful maintenance by qualified roofing contractors.

That said, keep a close eye on aging roofs. Problems may already exist or develop faster than they might with a younger roof. Use the above tips to gain awareness about your roof and its needs.

No matter what type of roof you have, you can always benefit from a professional inspection. If you need inspections, repairs, or maintenance, contact your local roofing contractor in Calgary at Century Roofing today.