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What’s the average commercial roof lifespan?

By bill | Dec. 12, 2010 | No Comments |  Share

This is a question we hear all the time here at Cole Roofing. And with good reason! Business owners and facility managers want to know how long their commercial roof will last, whether they’re repairing it, replacing it or just doing a little research so they know what’s in store up the road.

The answer, of course, depends on what type of roof you have. Different common commercial roofing materials all have different lifespans. Here are the basics for a few of them.

Built-up roofs (tar and rubber)

Built-up roofs are perhaps the most common material for commercial roofs. Typically applied to flat roofs and made of materials such as aspahlt or rubber, with the proper maintenance, they can last between 15 and 30 years. Different factors will affect the lifespan of your business’s asphalt or rubber roof, such as climate (intense sun, heat or snow will speed the roof’s aging process) and foot traffic.


We’ve already discussed the environmental benefits of metal roofing, but it’s also a smart choice for your business because of its outstanding lifespan. Metal roofs last 40-60 years on average. One reason for this is because metal roofs are resistant to UV damage. Most roofing material starts deteriorating the moment it is hit by the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Asphalt, wood shingles & shakes

We realize not all businesses are large. Some are housed in facilities better suited for residential roofing materials. Because of their wallet-friendly price point, asphalt shingles remain a very common roofing material for some small businesses. The lifespan of an asphalt-shingled roof ranges from 15 to 20 years, though sometimes a high-quality asphalt roof can last 30 years or much longer. Easy to repair and inexpensive, they are also at risk for mold and mildew.

With a more rustic appearance, wood shingles and shakes can last an impressive 30-50 years if maintained correctly. While more expensive to purchase and maintain (they need periodic cleaning and re-oiling), many enjoy their natural look.

Whichever commercial roofing material you choose, it’s always a good idea to be well informed before you make a final decision and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the most important part of extending a roof systems lifespan is the quality of the installing contractor.   If you have any questions about commercial roofing materials and roof lifespans, give us a call! We’d love to hear from you.

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