The Roof Lifecycle
How To

How long does a roof last?

April 19, 2023
Explore the Roof Lifecycle to unlock valuable insights into the stages and longevity of your roof system. Learn how to effectively manage maintenance and replacement for optimal performance and durability.


A roof should be looked upon as an asset, meaning it is a resource with economic value that an individual or corporation owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide a future benefit.  Like any asset, it needs to be maintained in order to provide the most value.  In the case of a roof, it should be maintained with periodic repair and restoration to meet and extend the useful service life. The roof is an important structure required to protect the contents and occupants of a building.  If improperly maintained, roofs will deteriorate rapidly causing them to become a liability for the owner and a safety issue.


The Roof Lifecycle diagram above provides a linear scale showing the three phases of a roof and when it would most benefit by repair and maintenance or restoration or, finally, need to be replaced.  The far left or “Green Sector” represents when a roof is of great asset value to the owner.  Roofs in the green may be aged (5-9 years old) or newly installed with 15 plus years of potential service life remaining.  Even though it is early in the roof’s service life, this sector shows the benefits of routine maintenance and calls consideration to applying a coating to provide a sacrificial layer to protect the underlying roof system from direct exposure to UV and the elements as well as improve reflectivity for maximum potential energy savings.  Minimal cost outlays here for proactive maintenance can reap huge benefits shown by longer service life and less money spent per square foot per year in maintaining the roof.


The “Orange Sector” is a critical time in the lifecycle of a roof.  Here is where the roof has visible deterioration and little service life remaining, prompting the owner to consider replacement soon.  Roofs in the orange sector require more repairs costing owners more than double the cost per square foot per year to maintain versus roofs in the green sector.  A roof in the orange sector is becoming a liability but with a restoration system, may be brought back to provide an asset value.  If the roof is evaluated and found to be dry (or mostly dry) internally and sound, it may be a candidate for a restoration system.  This would include removing and replacing any wet insulation and roofing with like material, sealing and repairing, in addition to a coating system application. All of this is considered maintenance and maybe fully tax deductible in the year of installation.  Timing is critical because if left unchecked, the roof will quickly deteriorate to the point where a replacement is necessary.


To the far right or “Red Sector” is the point in a roof’s lifecycle where widespread failure is occurring or inevitable.  The roof has little to no remaining service life requiring a re-roof or new roof to be installed.  If the roof already has two roofs, then a complete tear-off and new roof is required. A re-roof or new roof will require compliance with local and state building codes and must be amortized over several years per Internal Revenue Service laws and regulations.  Re-roofing or new roofing may include the addition of added insulation and will be more costly and disruptive to the owner versus restoration.


Keeping the roof in the green sector where it provides the most value is the goal of any successful proactive maintenance program.  Identifying a roof is in the orange sector and taking action is even more critical. Restoration here focuses on repairing deficient existing roofs to increase their service life and asset value. The restoration process identifies problems and critical areas unique to the roof and focuses on repairing just those areas, instead of removing the entire roof and installing a new roof system or covering with a new roof overlay. This alone can save building owners thousands of dollars instantly.  Proactively managing the roof is the best way an owner can lower their yearly building maintenance costs expenditures.

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The Karnak Team

Since 1933, our team at KARNAK has been dedicated to producing top-quality sustainable roofing and building solutions that protect and extend the life of building envelopes while reducing environmental impact. As a family-owned and certified woman-owned business, we pride ourselves on our commitment to quality, durability, and personalized customer service. We specialize in liquid-applied roofing systems, repair products, and comprehensive support through detailed documentation and our Q Applicator Program for contractors.

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