The 6 Best Roofing Materials for Longevity

worker hammering in slate roof tiles

There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best roofing material for you. From aesthetics to cost and resale value—there are many different factors to consider, but arguably the most important factor is longevity, or how long the roof will last. Below, we count down the 6 best roofing materials.

6. Composite Shingles

roofing contractor working with shingles

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most popular forms of roofing materials ranks low on the list for longest lifespans.

Composite shingles are cheap to buy and purchase, but they may not last longer than 15 years.

Composite shingles vary wildly in their longevity due to the different qualities available. Premium composite shingles from GAF, CertainTeed, and Owens Corning come with warranties lasting longer than 50 years, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee your roof will last that long.

Expected Lifespan:

  • 15 - 50 years

How to Make Composite Shingles Last Longer:

  • Never power wash your shingles and eliminate moss as soon as possible.
  • If you live in a high wind area, you should opt for a shingle rated to withstand 120+ mph winds.
  • Snow and ice can put excessive stress on your roofing structure and lead to damage if left alone. If you notice ice dams forming near your gutters, you should call your local roofing contractor right away to assess the situation. 
  • Keeping your roof clear of loose debris, like leaves and tree limbs, allows for proper water runoff and reduces the risk of acid erosion.


5. Wood Shingles

wood shingle roof

Wood is an organic material but can last up to a quarter century.

Wood shingles are thin and flat and typically made from sawn logs. They’re prone to weathering and decay.

Expected Lifespan:

  • 25 years

How to Make Wood Shingles Last Longer:

  • Control moss growth.
  • Replace split or cracked shingles as soon as possible.

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4. Standing Seam Metal

metal roof in rain

Metal roofing, including pre-formed standing seam metal, is a mainstream option in this day and age.

Whether you choose aluminum, steel, or copper, metal roofs are extremely durable.

While metal roofs are known for their many advantages, make sure you work with a contractor that specializes in metal installations. 

Expected Lifespan:

  • 30 - 50 years

How to Make Standing Seam Metal Last Longer:

  • Check your metal panels for loose fasteners and sealant failures. Loose nails can cause a number of minor and major problems. Simply pull loose nails and re-nail back into place.
  • Inspect the roof for distressed, bent, or migrating panels.
  • Look for rust patches and other signs of deterioration. Rust can be removed with a wire brush or steel wool.


3. Wood Shake Shingles

wood shake shingle

Wood shake shingles are much thicker than normal wood shingles. Used for centuries, wood shakes are split from logs. They are most commonly made from cedar and pine, but California redwood, cypress, and spruce are used as well.

These thicker wood shingles stand up much better to weather damage and UV rays. With proper maintenance, thick wood shakes can last over 30 years.

Expected Lifespan:

  • 35 - 40 years

How to Make Wood Shake Shingles Last Longer:

  • Remove debris build-up as soon as it lands on the roof.
  • Eliminate moss with a garden hose or with zinc or copper strips.
  • Replace split shakes immediately.
  • Cedar or redwood shake roofs should never be stained, as the stain does not allow the shakes to get the air they need.

2. Spanish Clay Tiles

spanish clay tile roof

Clay tile roofs are some of the oldest roofing materials around today. It’s not out of the question for clay roofs to last up to 100 years or more.

While clay tiles are expensive and rather heavy, they provide a distinctive style that is fire-resistant and relatively immune to harsh weather conditions.

Expected Lifespan:

  • 100 years

How to Make Clay Tiles Last Longer:

  • Organic debris, such as plant material, mold, and lichen, can deteriorate the underlayment beneath your tiles.
  • Ensure fasteners are installed correctly.
  • Clay tiles don’t suffer from decay or granule loss, but cracks can cause these materials to deteriorate. Replace cracked and broken tiles as soon as possible, and avoid walking on clay tiles.

Learn more about clay tile roofs: Everything You Need to Know About Tile Roofs

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1. Slate

slate roof

Slate is so durable, it makes other roofing materials seem like paper in comparison.

No other roofing material comes close to the longevity of slate. Some slate roofs around Europe date back hundreds of years.

Slate is carved stone, laid thick over the roof. Because of this, slate is incredibly heavy and requires strong truss strength to support it.

Expected Lifespan:

  • 100+ years

How to Make Slate Last Longer:

  • All flashings need to be correctly installed and maintained. If copper flashing turns black, it’s time to replace them.
  • If slate becomes broken, immediately replace them.
  • Fallen tree limbs and large hail can damage slate tiles, so be especially wary of roof damage following a major wind or hail storm.