When a retractable sliding roof system (glass versions are often referred to as skylights, even though they’re really operable roofs) becomes an integral part of a home or business, it must operate reliably.

Properly engineered retractable roofs should work for decades without a problem, with only minor maintenance. We have many retractable retractable roofs installed over 50 years ago that still operate trouble-free today.

How long the retractable sliding roof system will last and how often it will need to be serviced depends  on its exposure to extreme weather conditions. Typically, a retractable roof can last between 8-15 years without needing to be touched, depending on how well it was installed and the quality of the roof’s design and manufacturing.

Common Malfunctions

Failures of retractable sliding roof system can occur in either the deploying/retracting system or the roof itself (for example, water leakage). A malfunction in a tiny part of the retracting system can lead to failure to open and close properly, making replacement necessary. Additionally, debris can get in the way, tracks corrode, motors can and need to be replaced. We mitigate these risks in our designs by using onboard-mounted, direct-drive motors, for example. This approach eliminates the need for chains, pulleys, and other moving parts that could seize up or otherwise hinder performance.

Rely Upon Galvanized and Stainless Steel

Gravity can strain a retractable roof over time if not appropriately designed. Even on sloped roofs, we create our retractable roof systems to move only in the horizontal direction to ensure reliable performance and longevity.


Incorrect or improper installation can lead to leaks from the roof edges (not through the glass) where the roof meets the building frame. Our retractable systems ride on tracks, extensions of the curbs built to protect the roof opening. This robust design minimizes the likelihood of malfunction, but leaks present a small risk nevertheless. In particular, exposure to sun and salt air necessitate more frequent maintenance to ensure seals continue to protect the home or business from a leak.

Here is what one customer had to say about the longevity and reliability of their Rollamatic Roof:

“The Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD is a roll-off roof observatory.  This roof was built by Rollamatic Roofs and has served us very well for many years.  The recent freeze and past hurricanes have had no impact on the operation of the roof, and no water has leaked into the observatory.  It is well worth the cost and effort to install a quality roll-off roof.” – Dr. Aaron Clevenson, Observatory Director, Insperity Observatory

Summing up

We recommend working with an experienced retractable roof system company with a reputation for quality design and materials, who will handle or assist with the installation. Additionally, confirm that the company offers a robust warranty – ours is five years. With professional design and installation, along with proper maintenance, your retractable roof should last decades before needing to be updated or replaced.

Shop for a Retractable Sliding Roof System

For further information on the engineering behind our retractable roofs, please check out our article, the importance of robust retractable roof engineering. If you have any questions, please reach out to our team at (415) 822-5655.