How Long Do Roof Tiles Last?

Roof Tiles, Slates & Shingles
product guide
grey tiled roof panorama

Roof tiles have been the go-to choice for protecting our homes from the elements for centuries. With many different types of roof tile available, including shapes, sizes, and materials, there's plenty to choose from in terms of both form and function. But how long can a tiled roof be expected to last? Is there a difference in longevity between materials? We're going to answer all of these and more in this helpful guide.

How Long Do Roof Tiles Last?


Clay roof tiles have been used for millennia. We know a lot about them, and so when you need a reliable answer your best bet is to go to those understand its history. Marley roof tiles have been in the industry for almost a hundred years, with its second CEO Owen Aisher Jr having been knighted for his contribution to the world of roofing. Needless to say, they know their stuff.

What this knowledge tells us is that while the exact life-span can vary depending on the product and manufacturer, clay roof tiles last roughly 60 years. This is the case across the board as the manufacturing process differs only slightly per brand. In fact, the BRE (Building Research Establishment) determined that this average can be considered a minimum, with proper maintenance potentially extending it even further.


Almost as well-known as clay, concrete roofing tiles offer a simple strength being made up of only three key components. Sand, cement and water. Though some brands do add some additional ingredients into this classic mixture to increase its life span. Aside from this, it owes much of its characteristics to cement – primally Portland Cement.

Originating from the isle of Portland in Dorset, this cement is used worldwide commonly known it’s low-cost and versatility. What this amounts to is an expected life-span anywhere between 40-60 years. Of course, this can be heavily influenced by how the tiles were originally installed, with a strong foundation and correct overlapping greatly helping the tiles to reach the higher end of this scale.


Arguably the top of the roofing totem pole, slate roofs boast a phenomenal aesthetic and practicality in near equal measure. They are naturally resistant to resistant to fire, mould and wind-up lift – all of which present serious risks to most other types of roofs. As you might expect, these benefits do not necessarily come cheap but to many homeowners the investment is worth it.

And when we say investment, we truly mean it. Slate roofs are often touted as ‘forever roofs’ and for good reason with a life expectancy of 75 – 100 years. This is only natural as slate itself is cut from stone extracted from the earth that has already been around for millennia. Ironically, when it comes to a slate roof it is the fixings that need to checked as they are far more likely to need replacing in your lifetime.


Unlike a traditional roofing material, like clay, metal tiles can vary quite significantly from product to product and brand to brand. This makes nailing down an exact life span a difficult task, with estimates ranging anywhere between 25 - 100 years. What you really need to be on the lookout for here, is the exact type of metal used in your tiles. Though it is fairly well known that roofs made with cooper, zinc and other premium metals will naturally last longer learning what exact metal you are dealing with will greatly help in narrowing down its expected lifespan.


Like metal, the manufacturing of synthetic roof tiles can greatly differ depending on what they are trying to emulate, which in turn can affect their projected lifespans. However, whilst these modern tiles boast many advantages: Their light weight, cost-effectiveness and often minimal impact on the environment to name just a few, longevity is typically not among them - with the products they mirror tending to outlast them.

Taking Synetic slate as an example, the original can last upwards of a century but the synthetic only half as long – around 20 – 60 years depending on the quality. Still, this is almost as long as clay and it’s best remembered that the main draw of synthetics is their innovation. There is no reason to believe that this number will not increase in the future.


Felt shingles feature a number of brilliant features. They are versatile enough to cover all manner of roofs, and easy to manipulate around obstructions. Typically available in a wide array of colours they can also be used to achieve a lot of different aesthetics and, with some premium models available, can offer a good degree of protection. Their lifespan however, is considered by some to be a slight drawback.

Simple three-tab shingles tend to last anywhere between 10-20 years with higher end brands extending this to approximately 20-30.  Whilst this may not be as impressive as some of the others on this list, it is important to consider their application in context. A 30-year roof on a shed, for example, is typically far greater than average.

Fibre Cement

As always, the fibre cement slate lands itself as a near perfect middle ground between traditional roofing and more modern alternatives. Fibre cement roof slates maintain a classic aesthetic whilst benefiting from manufacturing that leaves it light and easy to handle.

Like slate it has a number of natural resistances including rust, rot and chemical attack all of which help it to achieve a life expectancy of close to 60 years. This is dependent on weather conditions and, with regular maintenance, it can last even longer.

How to Maintain Your Tiles & What to Avoid

Whilst each type of tile holds an inherently different lifespan, the one thing they all share is that this can be extended by way of proper and regular maintenance. The best way to achieve this is simply to keep a weather eye on your roof. Once or twice a year check for broken or cracked tiles, even a few of these can quickly threaten the integrity of your entire building so it is best to get them replaced ASAP.

Cleaning your roof can also help prolong its life, though the exact method may change depending on the specific tiles. Clay and concrete can typically be cleaned with a pressure washer aimed at the highest peak of the roof (so as not to create cracks in the tiles) using a classic mixture of water and detergent. However, as this may not be the case in all circumstances, it is always worth checking the manufactures guidelines and hiring out if you are unsure.

As for what to avoid, many of the typical dangers: weather & poor installation to name just two can often be beyond your control. It is important to remember that these can have a detrimental effect though unfortunately there is little you can do once the roof is already in place. What you do have control over however, is your ventilation. A properly ventilated roof can limit damaging condensation. Conversely having little or no ventilation will lead to this damage cutting down the number of years you can expect your tiles to last.

Ultimately, if you want to know how long your tiles have got left. You need to know what they're made of, when they were fitted and how well, if at all, they have been maintained. Answer these three questions and an estimate will become clear.

Any Questions?

Have any more questions about roofing tiles or perhaps something else concerning your own roofing project? Simple give us a call on 01295 565 565 or talk to us via our online chat. Our award-winning team will be happy to help.

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