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A 50-Year Roof Warranty is Not Always a 50-Year Roof

If you’ve been researching shingles or recently got a quote from a roofing contractor, you’ve probably seen the “50-year warranty” claim.  Does this mean your new roof is expected to last 50 years?  Or does it mean the manufacturer providing the warranty will warrant performance for 50 years?

The answer: not exactly.

The first step you want to take is read the legal paperwork by the manufacturer.  Most 50-year warranties only cover a specific thing — like leaks caused by material defect.

And there’s variation between the manufacturers on what components of any warranty work they will cover.  For example, some will cover cost of disposal of waste, but others won’t.

Leaks caused by material (manufacturer) defect


Usually a 50-year shingle warranty covers leaks caused by material defect.  This means the manufacturer will only cover (some) costs of repair/replacement if your roof develops a leak and that leak is determined to be due to a defective shingle material.

This isn’t coverage for incorrect application — a common source of leaks within the first 10 years of a new roof.

It’s not for wear and tear.  If your 20-year old roof has lost enough granules that the shingles are no longer protective, is that a material defect?  It could be, but it also might not be.

The manufacturer would have to collect a sample of your roof and test it.  If they found there was something defective about the manufacturing of the product that led to loss of granules that would not have otherwise happened, then you’d have a case for your leak being caused by material defect.

But if no material defect can be found, the shingle manufacturer is unlikely to pay for any repair.

No coverage for poorly ventilated roofs


Say your roof shingles start curling or buckling up.  Leaks easily generate from that, but the malfunction usually isn’t from the sun or weather damage.

It’s usually from the inside — from bad ventilation.

As air and heat travels from inside your home to outside, if there’s not enough attic ventilation, your roof often takes a toll.  Shingles can deform as escaping air pushes them up and as water vapor condenses on the plywood the shingles are nailed to.

Read the legal stuff for the warranty your shingle manufacturer offers.  There’s usually a section about the warranty not covering damage from poor ventilation.  Some even go far enough that if your roof itself is determined to not be ventilated well enough, the normal warranty coverage is reduced.

How can you get a warranty that will really cover you?


The GAF Golden Pledge is an example of a roof warranty that has far more extensive coverage than the typical 50-year shingle warranty.  The Golden Pledge is also a 50-year warranty, but it has much more additional coverage that transforms it into a great warranty.

  • It includes a 25-year (sometimes 30-year) misapplication warranty.
  • Only 2-3% of contractors qualify (Master Elites) to install GAF Golden Pledge roofs, and they’re expected to ventilate the roof decks up to standard.
  • An entire GAF roofing system is installed, so the Golden Pledge covers all the materials instead of just the shingles.
  • Most components of cost for the repair work under warranty are covered by GAF.
  • GAF is responsive to warranty claims (this one is big).

Some other large shingle manufacturers have similar warranties, but GAF’s Golden Pledge is the best and it’s the one we work with.  Perhaps the best part of it for homeowners is that — in our experience — when a homeowner has a Golden Pledge roof and a problem arises, GAF is responsive and actually schedules to get the repair work done.

Other manufacturers with material-defect-only warranties have been known to be extremely non-responsive.  Usually you’ll only get results when a bunch of other homeowners have the same defect, and there’s a lawsuit.

With GAF’s Golden Pledge, the warranty is so extensive and robust that they try to get the issue fixed soon.


If you live in the Puget Sound region and want a new roof you can count on for a long, long time — give us a call or fill out our quick estimate form.

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