My roof looks funny… What are some aging signs in shingles? And what’s with those roofing warranties?

Roofs are funny things. I have spent hours with clients and some times days with others in the roof type and color selection phase of re-roofing. I have been known to explain on more than one occasion that the color and type of roof really matters right now… but 3 months after the new roof is installed, the client will hardly look at their roof anymore! It’s like… what was the big deal? I am kidding… I understand it is a big deal due to the fact that there is an enormous number of roof types and colors to choose from… but for the most part though, roofs tend to blend into the backdrop of the building’s setting after awhile. When your roof ages it stops blending into the background and begins to stick out like a sore thumb due to the aging process.

One thing is for sure, besides death and taxes, is that your roof is going to wear out. Roof replacement is unavoidable; however, not all roof types will age at the same pace. Tile roofs can last 50 years if the original installation is solid. Wood shakes can last 30 years. Wood shingles last about 20 to 25 years. Hot mopped roofs last 10 to 25 years. Duro-Last single ply low slope roofs can last up to 30 years. Slate roofs in Europe have lifespans of hundreds of years!

Looking at the world of asphalt shingles, different shingles have different weights and lifespans. We can use this roof type as a model for other roofing types because most roof types have similar grades of product performances.

A good way to assess how long your shingles will last is to check with the manufacturer’s warranty. Typically 20, 30, 40, 50 and even lifetime limited warranties. Notice I mentioned “warranty”. It’s important to know that many of the shingles on today’s market carry fancy manufacturer “lifetime” or “50 year” material warranty labels on them. However, most of this warranty language is pro rated and designed to protect the material manufacturer. The materials generally do last a long time in most scenarios but they do not last forever. For this reason, the workmanship warranty is usually more important.

Two or three shingle manufacturers currently offer 10 to 20 year workmanship warranties. All others offer far less, if anything at all on the workmanship portion of a warranty. Most roofing contractors offer 5 to 10 year workmanship warranties. Workmanship warranties expire at a certain date. Usually, that is the length of time it takes for the product to begin their natural break down process of aging. When the workmanship warranty is about to expire, a more thorough inspection is a prudent move. If you have been maintaining your roof all along, there should not be many surprises at this inspection.

When shingles become old or begin to show signs of aging, they begin to crack, curl or become loose. They may even break off and blow around your (or your neighbor’s) yard. Shingles lose elasticity with every passing year. You should never ignore these signs or put them off. When you begin to see signs of aging in your shingles, tiles, shakes or flat roof systems, you should contact a roofing contractor and have the roof assessed. Most roofing consultant and home inspectors recommend most roofs have a bi annual inspection.

Flat roof systems are among the most important types of roofs that need regular inspection. Putting off roof repairs to a later date can cause many expensive repairs in the long run. Make the roof repairs as soon as you or your roof professional notices the problem.