What is a roof warranty made up of and how long does it last?

Alex KotsyubaRoofing

What is a roof warranty? How long does it last?

We are often approached by customers with a simple question. What is my roof warranty, and what is covered by this warranty? Although a simple questions on the surface, this can often be a complicated one to answer because there are a variety of roofing warranties offered by roofing manufacturers as well as varying warranties offered by roofing contractors themselves.

With the drastic seasonal temperature changes we experience in the Northeast, especially throughout the Capital Region, it is important to understand what type of warranties you are receiving along with your roof installation. This, along with hiring the right contractor can help you save money and avoid unwanted issues in the long run.

The Three Types of Roofing Warranties Explained

Many homeowners are under the impression that they are getting a “lifetime” or a “30 year” roof installed on their home. This is not always the case so it is important to understand the different type of warranties that are offered with any roof installation and what each warranty specifically offers.

Manufacturer Warranty (Material-Only)

The “Lifetime” or “Limited Lifetime” manufacturers warranty is designed to protect the homeowner from shingle defects that materially affect the performance of the shingles during the warranty period. This simply means that at the time that the shingle was manufactured, it was properly manufactured free of defects and will remain that way for a reasonable amount of time, as long as they are not damaged or installed improperly. This warranty typically ONLY protects the components installed that were specifically made by the manufacturer (shingles, hip and ridge, underlayments)

What It Does Not Cover

The roof manufacturers warranty does NOT cover components that were not made by the roofing manufacturer such as metal flashings, pipe boots, nails, underlayments, drip edge, wood decking, etc. It also does not cover any workmanship defects as a result of poor or improper installation by the roofing contractor. The manufacturers warranty also does not cover hail, wind or ice damage damage to the roof.

Although not always the case, the standard manufacturers warranty only applies to the original owner of the property and is non transferrable.

How long is the coverage?

Shingles installed under the standard manufacturers warranty typically carry a lifespan of anywhere from 20-50 years. However, the roof is usually fully covered for about 10 years, and prorates at a percentage every year after. The manufacturer will provide replacement shingles and offer a “reasonable” cost to replace the new shingles on the roof. Keep in mind that the manufacturer will not pay for the cost of removing and disposing of the old shingles. Neither will they cover any of the components involved in re-installing the new roof such as metal flashings, drip edge, underlayments, etc.

Once the standard manufacturers warranty expires, the manufacturer will only pay for a prorated amount of the cost of the original shingles, and is not responsible for any labor costs involved with replacing the shingles, or any of the components that go along with replacing the roof.

Roofing Contractors Warranty (Labor-Only)

The roofing contractors warranty, or workmanship warranty is what covers the actual installation of the roof. This warranty is key simply because a poorly installed roof not only shortens the lifespan of the actual roof but can also void, in some cases, the manufacturers warranty as well. It is important for any homeowner to research any potential roofing contractor to see what type of a reputation they have in regards to the quality of their roof installations. It is also important to ask what type of workmanship warranty the contractor offers, as well as how long the workmanship warranty is valid for after the installation of the roof.

The problem with Contractor Warranties

When it comes to contractor, or workmanship warranties, there is no industry standard. Compared to the handful of roofing manufacturers in the United States, there are currently 109,331 roofing contractors in the United States, with each one of them having their own workmanship warranty that they offer to their customers, if any.

Extended Manufacturer Warranty (Complete System - Material & Labor)

If the roofing contractor replacing the roof on your home is a manufacturer certified installer with the particular roof shingle they are installing, an extended manufacturers warranty may be available to the homeowner for a fee. The extended manufacturers warranty simply extends the coverage period of the shingle installed, and often times covers the labor to re-install a new shingle. The shingle and roof components being installed are typically higher end performance shingles and components that the manufacturer can confidently stand behind for a longer period of time.

Sometimes, it may even cover the cost of tear off of the old shingles. Each roof shingle manufacturer has their own extended warranties available to homeowners as well as requirements for contractors to be able to offer the warranty. It often best to verify the type of certification the roofing contractor carries with the roof manufacturer.

Homeowner tip

Weather you are getting a standard manufacturers warranty or an extended manufacturers warranty, you want to make sure you register your warranty through the manufacturer within a reasonable amount of time after your roof installation in order to ensure that your roof is, in fact, covered by the manufacturer.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Roof Warranties


Do I need to have a roofer install my roof in order to get a manufacturers warranty?

Not necessarily. A manufacturers standard warranty becomes valid when the shingles are purchased. Keep in mind, a home owner does not have the ability to purchase any kind of an extended warranty and can easily void any standard manufacturers warranty if the shingles are improperly installed.

What can void a manufacturers warranty?

There are certain occurrences that can ultimately void a manufacturers roof warranty including improper or defective roof installation, intentional damage, high traffic, roof punctures, standing or ponding water, improper roof ventilation, failure of underlying structure, negligence, as well as improper roof repairs. Extreme weather occurrences, or “Acts of God” such as high winds, fire, lighting, earthquakes and hail can also void the warranty. It is important to read the fine print as things like gutter guards or anything that is fastened to the roof shingles can ultimately void the manufacturers warranty as well.

Can I transfer my roof warranty to the new owner when the home is sold?

The answer to this question varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some manufacturers will allow for the standard warranty to be transferred once, that is if the original warranty was registered with the manufacturer to begin with. Some manufacturers require a small fee for the transfer of warranty and others place a specific time frame of when the warranty can be transferred to the new owner. The best place to go to is either your roof warranty packed that should have been given to you by your roofing contractor, or the manufacturers website.

When it comes to the workmanship warranty, that will depend on the roofing contractor. The best way to verify is again, to either look at the paperwork provided to you after the roof installation or contract the roofing contractor directly.

Can I transfer my roof warranty to the new owner when the home is sold?

I lifetime warranty for a shingle usually has an actual lifespan of about 10 years before it begins to prorate a percentage every year after that. Keep in mind, the shingle warranty only covers shingle defects and does not cover improper installation by the roofing contractor.

What is a “Lifetime Shingle Warranty” and what does it cover?

I lifetime warranty for a shingle usually has an actual lifespan of about 10 years before it begins to prorate a percentage every year after that. Keep in mind, the shingle warranty only covers shingle defects and does not cover improper installation by the roofing contractor.

What are signs to look for in a defective shingle?

There are certain signs that can be directly attributed to a shingle defect. Those signs can be; excessive shingle granule loss, cracking, spotting or blistering, shingle curling, as well as visible fiberglass core in the shingle.

What do I need to do as a homeowner to ensure I have a valid warranty?

First, make sure to register your warranty with the roof manufacturer within a timely manner. Second, inspect your roof periodically to ensure that there are no leaks or damage on the shingles themselves. Catching any installation errors or shingle defects can help save you money and take advantage of a valid warranty, wether manufacturers or the workmanship warranty.

What if I have damage on my roof due to hail or high winds?

Damage to your roof that has been caused by an “Act of God” is often covered by your homeowners insurance. You can always call your homeowners insurance to open a claim, or contact the contractor that installed your roof to inspect the damage and help you navigate the insurance process. Once the insurance claim process is started, the insurance company will assign someone to come and inspect your roof to see what the extent of the damage is and what is covered by the insurance. Once the inspection occurs, the insurance company will either approve a repair to the roof shingles or elect to cover the complete replacement of the roof.