‘Lifetime roof’ may mean different things to different people. Does lifetime involve only water intrusion or does it include appearance, fading, and curling? Does it mean with no maintenance required or contingent upon proper maintenance. These are difficult questions but one thing that is clear is that consumers are looking for a roof that will both last a very long time and increase the value of their home. There are a number of options in roofing that move toward this goal and should be reviewed by anyone looking for a Lifetime roof.
Asphalt Composition Shingles
Asphalt Shingles wear over time. The asphalt changes from pliable to hardened with heat and cold. Degradation is slowed by the application of reflective crystals to the roof that keep the roof cooler and reflect damaging UV light. As the roof ages and crystals get knocked loose, crystal erosion increases the rate of degradation and eventually the brittle shingles crack and leak. This mechanism can be slowed down by creating thicker, more massive shingles that require more time to turn brittle.
Let’s take traditional composite roofing. Today’s composite roofing can be purchased in much heavier grades than in the past, as much as twice as heavy. The extra heftiness and mass provide a platform for the shingle to wear more slowly and thus last longer than old time 3-tab shingles. Additionally, manufacturers like CertainTeed offer finely honed training programs to guarantee that the roofer knows how to install the shingles properly for maximum life.
The result is a roofing system that people like CertainTeed are willing to insure for an extended period of time. In fact, CertainTeed provides a Lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship for it’s higher end shingles. The warranty applies to the original homeowner and one ownership transfer, as long as the residence is lived in by the homeowner. While this is not a wear warranty, it still goes a long way toward a longer lasting roofing system.
Wood roofing is subject to decay caused by fungus. Cedar has a natural fungicide that protects it from fungus growth. Protective treatments are available that can further deter fungus growth (remember creosote soaked telephone poles?). Fungus has a terrible time growing on cedar that is kept clean and not subject to standing water. The biggest enemy of a wood roof is standing debris and moss that retains water and provides a place for fungus to grow.
Of course the thicker the wood, the slower the total destruction that occurs and the longer the roof lasts. But because wood roofs are a natural product (eco-friendly) and are subject to proper care and maintenance it is impossible to guarantee a specific longevity. That said, there are wood shingles that exceed 50 years life. In fact the oldest all wood house built in America that is still standing is over 320 years old, built of cypress and cedar.
Galvanized steel metal roofs are a wonder invention. They can easily last 60 years or more but do require upkeep. Aluminum roofing is much less upkeep intensive and naturally resistant to corrosion. Aluminum can last 30 years or more. If you really want a lifetime roof, consider copper. Extremely expensive and difficult to obtain, copper roofs have been known to last hundreds of years. One of the issues with metal roofs is that they can be damaged by walking on them and can be dented by falling limbs or hail stones.
Clay Tile Roofing
Clay tile shingles last a very long time. Manufacturers typically warranty these roof tiles for 50 years or more. One issue homeowners should consider is that clay tiles can be broken by falling limbs or being walked on. While it is not difficult to replace individual broken tiles, it may be hard to find tiles that match the existing ones. Warning to homeowner: maintain an adequate supply of replacement tiles for your roof.