Florida Roof Choices: Comparing Durability, Cost, and Style

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In Florida, an asphalt shingle roof’s maximum lifespan is about 20 years, though some need to be replaced as early as 15 years. However, there are a few factors that may change how long your roof will last, including how much direct sunlight your roof gets, how close you are to the coastline, and most importantly, what the roof is made of. Let’s look at the most popular roof materials individually to give you a better sense of how long a roof lasts in Florida.

Do Roofs Have a Shorter Lifespan in Florida?

Unfortunately, roofs have a shorter lifespan in Florida than the national average. If you’re researching new roofs, you’ll see estimates that an asphalt shingle roof should last 20 to 30 years. But harsh UV rays, humidity, storms, and sea air all work to degrade asphalt shingles much faster than that.

If you’re considering replacing your roof, you should work with a roofing contractor to get a quote and to calculate the ROI of putting on a cheaper material that you’ll need to replace faster vs a more expensive material that will last longer. Those numbers should help you figure out what the best decision is for your own home and budget.

Florida Roof Lifespans by Type

Roofing materials in Florida are chosen based on cost as well as durability. The state’s unique weather challenges can make it tricky for homeowners to balance finding the right roof type at the right price. The three most popular roof materials for Florida homes are:

  1. Asphalt shingles. This is the most widely used material. In addition to being the cheapest option on this list, it is also easy to install.

  2. Metal roofs. These are increasingly popular in Florida since they last a long time as well as help keep homes cooler.

  3. Tile roofs. Clay tiles and concrete tiles are both common choices, and they have excellent durability and longevity. However, they are also the most of the options listed here.

Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these materials.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs

  • Average Cost: $3.50-$7 per square foot installed.

  • Average Lifespan: 15-20 years.

Asphalt shingles are popular due to their excellent price. While they are somewhat durable, they can be blown off or damaged in strong wind, and they absorb a lot of heat from the sun, which can make your home hotter.

They come in two main styles: 3-tab and architectural.

A basic 3-tab asphalt shingle is the least expensive roof material on this list, ranging from $3.50 to $5.50 per square foot installed. They are fairly thin, lightweight shingles that are easy to install, which helps bring down labor costs. However, they are also one of the least durable options on this list. Looking at the average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, a 3-tab shingle is more likely to fall toward the shorter end of that range.

An architectural asphalt shingle is a bit more expensive at $4.50 to $7 per square foot installed. These are thicker shingles that come in a variety of shapes and styles, and they have better durability than a 3-tab shingle. They can last 20 years. If your roof is more shaded and a bit further from the coast, they may even last 25 years.

Metal Roofs

  • Average Cost: $7-$16 per square foot installed.

  • Average Lifespan: 40-70+ years.

Metal roofs are built to withstand hurricane-force winds, resist sun damage, hold up well in rain, and reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it, which keeps homes cooler. All of those benefits make it worth the higher cost for many homeowners.

There are three types of metal roofs to consider in Florida: steel shingles, aluminum shingles, or standing seam.

Steel shingles are the least expensive of these, coming in at $7 to $10 per square foot installed. However, steel is susceptible to rust when exposed to salt air. Steel roofing materials are treated with protective coatings to help keep them from rusting, but those coatings need regular maintenance and re-application. Keeping the roof and coating in good shape will help it last 40 years, but it can stay in good shape for as many as 70 years. That’s more than twice as long as 3-tab shingles.

Aluminum shingles are a bit more expensive at $9 to $12 per square foot installed. Unlike steel, though, aluminum is naturally resistant to corrosion and does not rust. If you live on or near the coast, paying a bit more upfront for aluminum could pay off in the long run since you will not have the same maintenance costs associated with steel. Aluminum also lasts between 40 and 70 years.

Standing seam roofs are made with panels instead of shingles and installed with interlocking seams (hence the name) to prevent leaks. They are the most expensive of the metal roof options at $10 to $16 per square foot installed. Typically, these are made of galvanized steel (zinc) or galvalume steel (a zinc and aluminum mix). Unlike steel shingles, both of these are very resistant to corrosion and last a long time in coastal environments. They also last longer than metal shingles, with an average lifespan of 50 to 70+ years.

Tile Roofs

  • Average Cost: $8-$20 per square foot installed.

  • Average Lifespan: 30-100 years.

Tile roofs are an excellent choice for Florida’s climate. They’re extremely durable, they offer great wind-resistance, and they last a very long time. However, they tend to be one of the pricier roofing options.

There are two main types of tiles used on Florida roofs: concrete and clay.

Concrete tiles are the least expensive of the two, coming in at $8 to $15 per square foot installed. They can be made to mimic the look of clay tiles as well as wood shakes or even slate. They also come in a wide range of colors. However, they are more porous than clay, so they are more prone to moisture absorption. They would do better on a home further from the coast. Concrete tile roofs in Florida can last 30 to 50 years.

Clay tiles can be quite a bit more expensive, averaging between $10 to $20 per square foot installed. That price increase is largely due to the natural materials clay tiles are made from as well as the energy-intensive production process. Clay tiles have a gorgeous, classic appearance that is especially sought after for Mediterranean- or Spanish-style homes. In addition to being extremely durable and resistant to rot, they are also highly resistant to fire. Clay tiles can last well over 50 years, and in some cases, can last up to 100 years.

No matter what roof type you’re leaning toward, you should consult with a roofing professional. This is not a project you want to DIY or leave to a general handyman.

When Should I Replace My Roof?

Aside from starting to notice signs that your roof has reached the end of its lifespan (leaks, cracked or missing shingles, or other forms of wear and tear), there are a few other instances where you should consider replacing your roof.

The Florida 25% Rule

Florida building code dictates that if more than 25% of your roof is damaged, you must entirely replace it. (One caveat is that if your roof was properly permitted and then the permit was “closed out” after March 1st, 2009, then this does not apply to you.) That includes damage from storms as well as damage that has accumulated over time to different areas of the roof.

You Are Buying a Home

If you’re making an offer on a home that has a roof nearing the end of its lifespan, you may need to replace it in order to be covered by home insurance. You should plan to talk to your insurance company as well as ensure the roof is thoroughly evaluated by a home inspector. If you or your insurance company determine that the home needs a new roof to be insured, you will need to work with your real estate agent and the home sellers to negotiate the purchase cost with that in mind.

You Are Selling Your Home

If you’re on the other side of that equation, then you should consider replacing your home’s roof before you put it on the market if you know the roof is nearing the end of its lifespan. Your real estate agent can help you decide how much you can list the home for if it has a brand-new roof, which may be appealing to buyers. In many cases, you can recoup all or most of your new roof cost in the home sale. Your agent will be able to help you choose a roof type. They can also help advise you on whether you should handle that renovation before putting it on the market or if you should instead list the home at a lower price and let the new owners take care of it.

How Do I Choose the Right Roof?

The best roof material for a home in Florida will vary depending on your budget and where your home is. If you’re right on the coast, then a metal roof or clay tile roof will be your best options. Further from the coast, you’ll have more choices.

You should also consider how much sun your roof sees every day. If your roof is more shaded, then an asphalt shingle roof may work well for you since there won’t be as much heat for it to absorb from direct sunlight. On the other hand, a roof with little to no shade would absorb quite a lot of heat, and you may want to choose another material instead.

Most importantly, you want your roof replacement to fit into your budget. Plan to get quotes from three to four roof contractors in order to find the best price for your project (and be wary of any outlier quotes that are much cheaper or much more expensive).

The right contractor will talk through your budget with you, walk you through the best options for your home, and leave you with a roof that gives you peace of mind, no matter the weather.