Built to last: but for how long?

When it comes to your home, you want something built to last. There are a few ways to help ensure this happens: sound construction, quality materials and preventative maintenance and repairs. However, while this can extend the life of many of your home’s components, most won’t last forever. In terms of your exterior, here’s how long you can expect things to last.


Even without a natural disaster, our roofs in New England take quite a beating, with temperatures varying between sub-freezing and up to the triple digits, not to mention snow and ice, rain, sleet, high winds and baking sun. Most of us in this area use asphalt shingles, and those can last between 30–50 years; adding a synthetic underlayment can buy you a few more. Other roofing options, like slate, metal and clay, are more expensive and used less frequently, but are built to last upward of 75 years.

It pays to address roofing issues in advance so you get the longest life possible, and so you can plan to replace it before it becomes an urgent issue. Outside, look for missing, curling, buckling or broken shingles. Inside, blistering or peeling paint and stains or mildew on walls or ceilings may indicate a roofing problem.

Siding & accessories

Many of today’s siding options—ranging from vinyl and composites to cedar, brick and stone—will last a lifetime. Most require little in the way of maintenance, and offer the ability to replace damaged sections without having to re-side the entire structure. Wooden exteriors require regular maintenance in terms of painting and staining, and are more prone to mold, rot, weather and pests.

In terms of accessories, wood shutters will last about 20 years, and vinyl ones much longer. Gutters made of aluminum last about 20 years, and downspouts about 30; copper gutters can last more than 50 years, and downspouts well past 100.


The life of a deck depends a lot on what it’s made of and what it’s exposed to. With proper maintenance, pressure treated wood is the least expensive option and can last up to 20 years. Cedar can last 25 to 40 years. Other options, like composites and PVC, are built to last 25 and more years of stain, fade and performance warranties. Hardwoods are typically long lasting—up to 40 years (again, proper maintenance being key)—and are the most expensive, offering natural resistance to rot and insect damage.

Doors & windows

Again, exposure has a big impact on the life of external doors and windows. Doors made of wood can last a couple decades or longer with proper maintenance and if they are at least partially shielded from the elements with an overhang. Fiberglass and steel doors will typically last even longer.

Most vinyl windows will last beyond 15 years, and their lifespan can be extended if well-maintained. Heat plays a major role in their deterioration, so hot summer weather takes a toll, especially for windows that get a lot of direct sun. Shrinking and expansion due to temperature fluctuation will weaken seals over time.

If your windows are approaching the 20-year mark, it’s time for a check-up. Signs of deterioration include drafts, warped or rotted frames on wood units, fog or condensation between the panes, and problems opening and closing the windows.

Consider the experts at Boilard Lumber your source for information about all your home’s components. We can offer advice and products to help extend the life of your investment, and show you options when it’s time for replacement. Give us a call or stop by our store today.