What Does Your Roof Warranty Cover?

Reviewed by Keith Jacob
Updated January 18, 2022
roof tile pattern, close up, over blue sky
Photo: R.Tsubin / Moment / Getty Images

Your current warranty may not completely protect your expensive new roof

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Roof replacement is often one of the most expensive home projects you can undertake. Average costs range from $5,000 on the low end to tens of thousands of dollars on the highest end, depending on the materials and on size and slope of your roof. For instance, metal roofs may cost more to install, repair, and guarantee than other types, such as traditional shingle roofs. But even the most costly new roof may not be completely covered by a warranty. 

Warranties may cover materials, and some will cover installation, guaranteeing the roofer’s work for a limited amount of time. But typical warranties are often limited in what they cover, and a number of conditions may apply. Below we’ve outlined some important information so you can make sure your roof is covered.

Manufacturers’ Warranties

Most roof installation or replacement projects are covered, at least partially, by manufacturers’ or product warranties. The roofer can typically provide these warranties, or the customer can find them on the manufacturers’ website. These warranties guarantee the materials against defects or failures for the typical lifespan of the materials. However, the warranty can be voided if the materials aren’t installed or maintained properly. 

Defects in the materials, though, are rare, and they do not usually lead to roof failure. So while manufacturer warranties may offer some protection, they don’t usually offer much of a guarantee against the more common causes of premature roof failure—poor installation, insufficient maintenance, or severe weather damage.

Installation and Contractor Warranties

Provided by the roofer, installation warranties often offer significantly more protection than the standard manufacturer’s warranty. But these warranties, too, can vary greatly depending on the type of warranty and who is issuing it. 

“This is the one you should ask to have as part of your contract verbiage,” says Keith Jacob, President & CEO of Integrous Roofing & Restoration. “This is the one you really want to understand if something goes wrong. In short, it's where the roofer states clearly what is and what is not covered in the warranty, and for how long. This focuses on the quality of the craftsmanship and if there is any failure due to the way the roof was installed.”

Many roofers will offer limited guarantees on their work. If, later on, you hire a different contractor to repair or maintain the roof or if you try to do the work yourself, you could void the warranty. 

In addition, the typical asphalt roof usually only has a lifespan of between 25 and 30 years. Most contractor warranties, though, often expire long before that time, typically guaranteeing the roof for five to 10 years

You may be able to negotiate with your contractor for a longer warranty, but it will probably cost you. Still, though, the cost of an extended warranty will often be far less than roof replacement costs. Some contractors will offer guarantees for as many as 25, 30, or even 40 years.  

These extended warranties are often reserved for higher-end products, such as slate or metal roofs, which typically cost more. You can expect to pay a pretty penny for the warranty too—as much as $3,000 for the additional coverage. 

But damages can be quite the headache, leading to dangerous roof leaks that can not only be a real health hazard but can also weaken the structural integrity of your home. And given the high costs of replacing a leaky and damaged roof, you may find that the extended warranty costs are worth the investment!

What Warranties Don’t Cover

Even if you have an extended warranty from your contractor, there will still be certain things the warranty may not cover. For example, it may not cover roof damage from a heavy snowfall unless you specifically request it, and are willing to pay for it, in your extended warranty plan. Your contractor can then upgrade the installation to include protective features that help safeguard against snow and rain accumulation, hail damage, and lightning strikes on your roof. 

You may also void your warranty if you don’t maintain the roof properly, including routine roof inspections and cleaning. Just make sure either that you use the same contractor for your maintenance and repairs—or that your warranty doesn’t forbid you from outsourcing the work or doing it yourself.

The Takeaway

Roof replacement is an expensive proposition, and it’s important to understand what your new roof’s warranty guarantees and what it doesn’t. Most warranties are limited in the coverage they provide, but investing in extended coverage may well be worth the added up-front costs. You can find top-rated roofers in your area to learn what options may be best for you.

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