Ask a roofer how long your roof will last, and they will typically give you one of two answers. They might simply say “it depends,” or they may give you an age range. It’s impossible to tell homeowners exactly how long their roof will last since so many different factors come into play. Thankfully, though, you have more control over your roof’s lifespan than you’d think.
If you want to extend your roof’s life, there are several elements to avoid. The following four things can negatively affect the longevity of your roof.
1. Sun Exposure
In Florida, we have plenty of sunshine. But as enjoyable as it can be to lounge and play in the sunshine, excessive sun exposure is not good for roofs. Sunlight causes most roof materials to oxidize and deteriorate faster.
So, how do you limit the effects of sun exposure on your roof? Your best bet is to choose a lighter-colored roof. The lighter your roof, the more sunlight it reflects, which means less sunlight is absorbed by the roof material. Another way to say this is that light colors have greater reflectivity. A light roof will stay cooler and last longer in the bright sun.
Also, consider how sun exposure and thunderstorms interact to accelerate roof damage. If your roof is hot from the sun and a storm rolls in, your roof will cool rapidly in the rain. Sometimes, a roof can drop from 100+ degrees F to 40 degrees in minutes! These rapid temperature changes can cause accelerated roof damage over time. The lighter your roof, the cooler it will remain — and the less temperature shock it will experience.
2. Salt Spray
The closer you are to the ocean, the more salt there is in the air. Waves crashing into the shore, wind blowing, and salt sprays coming up onto land all increase your roof’s exposure to salt.
Metal corrodes and rusts a lot faster in the presence of salt. While metal roofs are the most affected by salt spray, other roofs are affected, too. Whether shingle, tile, or solar, every roof we install has metal flashings. These flashings are used around hips, valleys, vents, and other projections. Most are made from galvanized steel or gallium, which will eventually rust in the presence of salt.
The best way to prevent salt damage to your roof is to periodically rinse it with fresh water. Metal roofs typically need to be rinsed twice a year to maintain their warranties. We recommend rinsing other roofs at least once every two years to protect the flashings and extend the roofs’ lifespans.
No, we don’t mean anyone would drive on a roof — although that would undoubtedly shorten its lifespan! The term “traffic” refers to foot traffic when used in the roofing industry. The more often you walk in your roof, the faster it will deteriorate. The friction from your feet and the shifts in weight as you walk can cause material damage. So, try to avoid walking on your roof when hanging holiday lights, cleaning, or repairing the roof.
Wind can also mimic the effects of traffic on a roof. It creates uplift pressure and can loosen your roofing materials. To guard against wind damage, we recommend having your roof inspected after every major wind storm. This way, any damage can be addressed ASAP.
4. Lack of Maintenance
Of course, the better you care for your roof, the longer it will last. However, it’s crucial that your roof doesn’t just receive maintenance — but the correct type of maintenance. Power washing the roof, while well-intentioned, can actually rinse granules off of shingle roofs and do more harm than good. As mentioned above, walking on the roof while you maintain it can also shorten its life.
If you want to extend your roof’s life, we recommend a gentler approach to roof cleaning. We offer a biennial roof maintenance program called Roofiversary. With this program, our roofers come inspect and maintain your roof every two years. They note and repair any issues, make sure your roof is up to code, and clean your roof with our Soft Wash protocol. The roofers also apply Roof Rain, a product that protects your roof from algae growth and the associated deterioration.
Roofiversary maintains your warranty coverage, and it extends the life of your roof. It can even double the life expectancy of a tile roof from 25 to 50 years!
Most homeowners want their roofs to last as long as possible. Mitigating sun and salt exposure, limiting traffic, and maintaining your roof can go a long way towards extending its life. If you’re looking for a roofing company to maintain or repair your roof, contact Kelly Roofing. We offer a variety of specialized roofing services in South Florida.