What Is the Difference Between a 30- & 50-Year Roof Shingle?


Roofing is among the most important decisions when designing a home and, when properly maintained, will serve both aesthetic and functional purposes. There are nearly a dozen types of roofing, each with its own benefits and life expectancy, usually somewhere between 25 and 50 years. There are a number of factors that go into determining how long a roofing tile will last, the biggest differences being weather conditions, care and appropriate product selection.

Key Factors

  • There are a variety of reasons the life expectancy of a roofing tile will be shortened. Chief among them is the weather conditions to which tiles are exposed. Any region with extreme heat or cold, lots of snow or other extreme conditions will likely have more frequent roof replacements than areas with more moderate conditions. Weather is a key factor in prematurely aging roof tiles, regardless of its material or life expectancy. Prior to selecting a roofing product, consult local hardware or home improvement stores, or a professional roofer. These sources should be able to discuss appropriate options for a specific area. Proper maintenance is also an essential part of the lifespan of a roof, particularly in areas where freeze/ thaw cycles are common. An annual check of the roof to monitor minor problems, including missing tiles, cracks or warped areas, will keep minor troubles from becoming serious and costly. Following proper maintenance, sealing and repair guidelines will usually aid in keeping the roof viable for longer.


  • Asphalt shingles are among the most widely used products on the market today. They are especially useful on homes with steeply sloping roofs and will do well against high temperatures and sun. They are fairly inexpensive, running between $50 and $150 per square foot at time of publication and, if cared for properly will last between 20 and 30 years. There are two primary types of asphalt shingle, one made with construction grade paper and asphalt, and the other made with fiberglass and asphalt. Fiberglass construction is generally more durable and long-lasting.

Natural Wood and Synthetics

  • Natural wood shingles are among the most costly roofing options and are significantly more high maintenance than synthetic materials. They are more likely to split, crack or warp when exposed to extreme weather conditions and carry a 20- to 30-year lifespan. Natural wood shingles are usually made from redwood, pine or cedar and require regular maintenance to reach this life expectancy. Synthetic materials are made by combining plastic, recycled wood and rubber, making them a greener, less expensive alternative to natural wood. Though annual maintenance is required, synthetics come with a 30- to 50-year lifespan, are designed to resist cracking and warping and come with a better resistance to fire and harsh weather than their wood counterparts.

Ceramic and Cement

  • Cement and ceramic (clay) products are ideal for areas that suffer from high temperatures and excessive sun exposure. They are both highly resistant to fire and heat, and their naturally light color aids in keeping homes cooler during the summer. Neither product requires a great deal of upkeep, except for the occasional check for broken, loose or cracked tiles. These are options that should be avoided in areas with extremely cold temperatures, high winds or snow, as cracking, breaking and other problems are likely. Ceramic and clay tiles are significantly heavier and more costly than other products but come with an approximate 50-year life expectancy.

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