How Long Should a Commercial Roof Last?

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How long should a roof last - Maguire Brothers

Maintaining a sturdy roof for all types of commercial and large residential buildings is crucial, considering the constant exposure to various weather elements. Roof damage can lead to costly work, impacting business operations So, how long should a commercial roof last, and how often should it be replaced?

 

Understanding Roof Lifespan: How Long Should a Roof Last?

The question ‘how long should a roof last?’ is difficult to answer without first having a bit of context. The lifespan of a commercial roof varies based on factors like climate, location, roof type, materials used, and maintenance. In the UK, where weather conditions can be harsh, roofs can last anywhere between 20 to 150 years, depending on the quality of materials chosen and the quality of the installation.  Whilst many materials have a expected life expectancy, significant variables can dictate whether this is achieved or even extended.

 

Common Types of Roof Materials and Their Longevity

Below we have listed a few common roofing materials, along with a rough estimation of how long each one should be expected to last:


Felt Roofing

Felt roofs, used on flat surfaces, should last in excess of 30 years if installed to a good standard, with high quality felts lasting in excess of 40 + years.  Flat roofs however do require regular maintenance to prevent issues that may result in premature failure.


Clay Tiles

Clay roof Tiles are durable and can last up to 60 years, longer in many cases. They offer good resistance to weather conditions and require little maintenance.

Clay Tiles - Maguire Brothers


Slate Roofs

Slate roofs are known for their longevity, however this is very much dictated by the quality of slate that has been chosen. Good quality slates should outlive the building owners, lasting over 100 years (this can be seen on historical buildings where slates coverings in some cases have been in place for over 150 years. However, cheap low quality slates may start to fail in as little as 30 years, and sooner is the installation has been to a low standard.

Slate Roofs - Maguire Brothers


Concrete Tiles

Concrete roof tiles are a cost-effective, durable, and low maintenance choice, making them popular in the UK, and particularly popular where budgets are tight. This low cost option however comes at a price, and roof coverings would be expected to last if installed correctly, to the correct pitch, in the region of 30-40 years.


Metal Roofing

Metal roofs have a lifespan of around 30-50 years. They offer good resistance to water, quick to install and very durable. If maintained, and the protective coatings renewed there is no reason why  a metal roof won’t outlive the tenants below by a long margin.


Green Roofing

Whilst green roofs are not “waterproofing” as such, their installation protects the waterproofing below, and therefore can significantly extend the life expectancy of the coverings, mitigating the impacts of extreme weather. Another benefit is that they are environmentally friendly, provide insulation, and reduce energy costs.


Liquid Waterproofing

A relatively new technology that has yet to stand the test of time. That said, reinforced flexible liquid waterproofing systems if installed correctly are expected to achieve a life expectance of 20-30 years. A further benefit is that such systems can be reactivated, re-coated and their life expectancy further extended.


Pitched vs. Flat Roofs

  • Pitched Roofs: Pitched roofs generally are expected to have a longer lifespan than flat roofs.
  • Flat Roofs: Flat roofs, commonly found in commercial buildings, last between 20 to 50 years on average.

Signs It’s Time for a New Roof

There are a number of potential clues to look out for when considering whether your commercial roof needs replacing. Here are a few tell-tale signs:

  • Visual inspections revealing significant damage to the roof coverings
  • Internal signs of damage caused by regular ingress
  • Leaks, that are ongoing and can’t be fixed.
  • Ongoing repairs (at some point it becomes not commercially viable to keep repairing a roof)
  • Trapped moisture within the waterproofing system
  • Damage to the supporting structure from ongoing water ingress

However even if your roof has reached it’s expected life expectancy, this doesn’t necessarily mean a new roof is an immediate requirement. With care and attention, and regular maintenance, it may be possible to extend the life expectancy through a number of proactive solutions:

  • Clearing gutters and downpipes to avoid blockages.
  • Prompt repairs for any damage or leaks.
  • Ensuring that any protective coatings are renewed in a timely fashion
  • Where flat roofs have reached the end of their lifespan, it is possible to overlay these with a new system for a fraction of the cost of a full new roof.

Maintaining a commercial roof is essential for the overall integrity of the building. While the lifespan of a roof varies based on factors like materials and maintenance, investing in a new roof when necessary not only ensures the safety of the property but also enhances energy efficiency and reduces long-term costs.

Do you need professional roofing advice?

We’re here to assist with all your commercial roofing and external refurbishment needs. Whether you have questions about our services, want to discuss a potential project, or need professional roofing advice, our experts are dedicated to providing personalised solutions and exceptional customer service. Get in touch with a member of the team today. 

This article, as with all other articles we produce, is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute formal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For bespoke, unbiased advice relating to your commercial roofing project please contact us and we would be pleased to assist.

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