Is There Such A Thing As A Lifetime Warranty On A Residential Roof?

Posted on: 7 April 2015

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For most homeowners, getting a new roof installed is a less-than-thrilling way to spend money -- certainly, that trip to Mazatlan would be more fun. It's necessary, though, and of course, you want the best and most durable roof that you can afford to protect your house. Should you look at certain types of roofs that are supposed to last longer? And just how long should you expect a roof to last, anyway?

There are many types of roofing materials that will last at least 20 years. Many homeowners prefer asphalt shingles, which traditionally were not covered by a long-term or lifetime warranty. Now, some types of asphalt shingles will have a 20-year or longer warranty, as long as you precisely follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Read the Warranties

Each company that offers long-lasting or lifetime roofing materials will have details in the fine print. In other words, don't expect to have a new roof fully paid for if your asphalt shingles fail in year 20. Here are some terms to expect and consider:

  • Up-front full warranty period. This means that there's a period of time when the manufacturer will cover the cost of new materials and labor to replace roofing materials that have a defect. This is usually about 10 years or so.
  • Proration. After your up-front period, you'll only get reimbursed for the cost of materials, prorated from when they were initially installed. You'll only get a percentage of what you originally paid for materials paid out.
  • Installation. According to many manufacturers' warranties, there are very specific ways to install and maintain their products; instructions are printed on the packaging. For example, if your roofing contractor used the wrong nails or other fasteners, the warranty will be void.
  • Transferability. Make sure you know what your warranty says about being passed on to a new owner. Some warranties require that you notify the manufacturer in writing or have other steps you need to take.
  • Exclusions. Often, the warranty will say it doesn't pay for things like underlayments, metal flashings or for the cost of removing the old roof. You'll be on the hook to pay for these pieces of the project, even if it is being done because of a problem with the roofing materials. Weather-related damage (an "act of God" like hail or heavy wind, for instance) may not be covered, either.

Upgrading a Warranty

In many cases, it is possible to purchase an upgraded warranty -- almost like an insurance policy -- from the roofing materials manufacturer. Each manufacturer has its own options and costs, so it can be difficult to compare value. You'll want to talk in depth with your roofing contractor about the pros and cons of an extended warranty.

Some installers specialize in offering extended warranties and following all the necessary steps to do so; others may suggest you stay away from such policies because of strict installation rules and other disclaimers. Other contractors guarantee their work on top of the manufacturer's materials warranty for a certain number of years.

In short, a lifetime warranty is possible for many types of roofing materials, even asphalt shingles. However, you'll be responsible for strictly following all the directions in the fine print in order to take advantage, should you need to. Save all warranty information, receipts and invoices from the roofing project in a safe location so you can easily access them and know what you are entitled to.