Whether you're buying a new house or have already lived in yours for years, at some point you'll think about the longevity of your roof. It makes sense, considering that it's responsible for keeping all the elements out of your home to begin with, and keeping moisture out that can leak in and cause mold damage. Your roof is the first line of defense for your home, so how often should you expect to replace it?
The answer is anywhere between 15-100 years. It depends mostly on the type of material that you use in your construction.
By far, the most common form of roofing material - installed on nearly 80% of homes every year - is asphalt shingles. These are on the lower end of the spectrum, price-wise, and will run anywhere from $70-150 per "square" (100 square feet sections). These provide the most basic form of protection against the elements, UV rays, and can be installed simply by a few nails. The black asphalt underneath melts to other shingles and creates a tight seal. Expect a roof with asphalt shingles to last between 15-30 years with proper maintenance.
These look very similar to asphalt shingles, but are actually 3-4 times thicker, creating a more sturdy barrier against rain, snow, and squirrels. They also cost more, around $250-400 per square, and can be styled to match any other type of roof you want, such as wood and slate. Since these are thicker, you should be able to get more than 30 years of life.
Despite their name, metal roofs actually come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, as well as materials, such as copper or steel. They also will be significantly more expensive than the first two, running you about $900 per square. The good news is that the lower end of these roofs - the 26-29 gauge metal - is around 25 years, while higher gauge can double or even triple that lifespan. Some manufacturers even rate them for a lifetime warranty.
Considered the gold standard of residential roofing, slate roofs can top out at around $1,500 per square foot and should last at least 50 years, if not longer. These roofs are significantly heavier, making installation a pain and reinforcing the walls a virtual necessity, but they're well worth if you're looking for a sharp, attractive roof that you'll never have to worry about again.