How Long Does a Roof Last?

Top view flat roof with air conditioners and hydro insulation membranes on top of a modern blue and orange apartment

Buildings and structures do their best to keep out the Nothing lasts forever. While some commercial roof types may be more durable than others, all roofs eventually have to be repaired or replaced. Keep reading to find out how long a roof lasts and what you can do to extend the lifespan of your roof.

Average Roof Lifespan for Different Types of Roofs

The right material can massively extend the life expectancy of your commercial roof. While all roofing materials have their pros and cons, they are not equal in terms of longevity. Find out which material makes for the longest-lasting roof below.

TPO Roof Life Expectancy

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofs are affordable, energy efficient, and easy to repair. Since their creation in the 1980s, TPO roofs have been an industry standard. TPO is the most popular material and makes up 40% of the commercial roofing market share.

TPO roofs last 20 to 30 years. TPO roofs are designed to be tough with a wind resistant, puncture-resistant membrane. TPO roofs also have high reflectivity that helps your facility cut building cooling costs. TPO is an excellent choice for most businesses because of its durability.

PVC Roof Life Expectancy

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofs are flexible, fireproof, and water tight. While some roofs have weak points in their seams, PVC roofs join their seams together with heat welding, making PVC seams tighter than any other roof type. PVC is also physically flexible, making it a perfect solution for angled or curved roofs.

PVC roofs last 15 to 30 years. While they may deteriorate before TPO roofs, PVC’s unique properties make them worth investing in. No other roof type has the chemical and fire resistance of PVC while being simultaneously flexible and easy to repair. If your business deals with chemicals or you have a unique situation, a PVC roof may be worth investing in.

EPDM Roof Life Expectancy

Ethylene propylene diene monomer roofing (EPDM) is a synthetic roofing material that is easy to install and economical. EPDM is composed of a synthetic rubber that is mechanically fastened, ballasted with a river-rock, or adhered. EPDM is priced competitively to TPO and can be more cost effective depending on your roof’s needs and if you have more heating days than cooling days per year.

Don’t get the wrong impression of EPDM—cost effectiveness doesn’t translate to low quality. EPDM lasts 20 to 35 years. EPDM’s single ply construction also makes it easy to maintain and repair over the course of its life

Modified Bitumen Roof Life Expectancy

Modified bitumen roofing is an asphalt-based rubber composite. There are two options of modified roofing, SBS and APP. Both types have benefits and drawbacks but all types of modified roof are constructed with an adhesive that makes them tough.

You can expect a modified roof to have an average roof life of 10 to 20 years. While they do wear away somewhat faster than other roof types, modified roofs are extremely resistant to all forms of damage. This makes modified roofs an excellent choice for protecting high-value properties. However, if your only concern is how long a roof lasts, modified roofs are not the best option.

Built-Up Roof Life Expectancy

Built-up, or BUR, roofing systems are the most battle-tested roofing option available. Having been in use for over a century, BUR systems have 4 layers that seal and protect your business. These “stacked” layers make BUR systems extremely puncture resistant and waterproof.

BUR roofs last 20 to 35 years. If you’re looking for a tried-and-true roofing system that’s low maintenance, look no further than BUR.

Metal Roof Life Expectancy

Metal roofs are the ultimate long-term roof. Visually appealing and durable, metal roofs offer the best of both worlds. There are two types of metal roof options:

  • Architectural Metal Roofing
  • Structural Metal Roofing

Architectural metal roofing is when the roofing is installed over some kind of pre-existing roofing system or substrate. Comparatively, structural metal roofing is when the roofing is installed over open framing. Regardless of what option you install, you can expect both to last.

Metal roofing lasts 40 to 60 years when properly maintained. If your only concern is how long a roof lasts and you have a sloped structure to support it, metal roofing is the answer.

What Factors Affect the Average Lifespan of a Roof?

You probably noticed the wide ranges for the average roof life in the previous section. The reason that we can’t more definitively answer how long a roof lasts is because of the range of outside factors that impact your roof’s health. These factors vary from business to business:


Weather has a huge influence on how long a roof lasts. Weather factors that deteriorate your roof include:

  • Humidity
  • Extreme Heat or Cold
  • UV Exposure
  • Thermal Shock or Temperature Fluctuations
  • Elevation
  • Severe Weather

Of these factors, severe weather has the most direct impact on the condition of your roof. If your area consistently gets weather like heavy rain, hail, or high winds, your roof will degrade faster.

Quality of Installation

Outside of the material, construction affects how long a roof lasts. You want to make sure that you have an experienced team of roofing contractors that properly install your roof. Make sure that your roofing partner is experienced with your desired material and ask them for photo references of other jobs they’ve completed.


Maintenance is the #1 factor in determining how long a roof lasts. Regularly inspecting your roof and repairing issues early is the best way to have your roof in great shape for years to come.

If you don’t know how to maintain your roof yourself, contact the professionals. Simpson Unlimited specializes in commercial roofing and has an expert team ready to fulfill your needs. We offer all of the roof types described above and have experienced repair teams that could help fix leaks or patch holes. Whatever the issue, Simpson will guarantee that your roof is in excellent condition for years to come.