In Depth: Roofing Systems
With strong predicted growth in the category, dealers need to make sure they’re offering a product lineup that meets the needs of both contractor and consumer.
Above: Georgia-Pacific’s Thermostat® OSB radiant barrier roof sheathing is ideal for southern climates and, according to the manufacturer, reflects up to 97% of radiant heat, which helps lower attic temperatures by up to 30 degrees F and cooling energy consumption by up to 17%.
Above: Debuting in late 2016, CertainTeed’s Arcadia Shake is a new heavyweight luxury asphalt shingle made from four laminated layers of asphalt that, according to the manufacturer, give the shingle extraordinary dimensionality that most authentically reproduces the look of actual shake. In addition, the shingle also features CertainTeed’s Solaris solar reflecting color options that the manufacturer says aids in energy efficiency.
Above: Ply Gem recently introduced multiwidth Engineered Cedar Shake shingles that are available in three different sizes and two different colors—Weathered Brown and Weathered Grey. Both colors are designed to reflect the colors found in natural cedar, and the color variations and shade combinations are pre-blended at the factory, which, according to Ply Gem, makes for easier installation on the job site.
Above: MFM offers three high-temp underlayments for use under metal roofing systems: MFM Wind & Water Seal; Ultra HT Wind & Water Seal (shown here); and StormStopper FSU. Ultra HT is the company’s premium product that has ICC, Miami- Dade, Florida and Canadian approvals. According to the manufacturer, it offers the same performance qualities as other hightemperature underlayments, but at a much lower cost.
Above: The Perma-Boot is a gasket-less two-piece pipe boot repair system designed to permanently repair the most common type of roof leak—that of around the vent pipe that penetrates the roof itself. Perma-Boot slides over the existing roof vent boot, is guaranteed to be leak-free for the life of the shingles, and according to the manufacturer it prevents leaks and installs in minutes. It is designed to work on all standard roof pitches from 3/12 up to 12/12.
Above: DaVinci Roofscapes’ polymer slate and shake shingles carry a Class A fire rating, are rated for winds up to 110 mph, and offer a lifetime limited warranty.
Above: According to the manufacturer, Huttig’s FT Synthetic Felt offers all of the normal benefits of a synthetic felt—lighter than traditional felt, larger coverage areas, and UV protection—along with Huttig’s patented GRIPSPOT technology of raised slip-resistant fibrous spots that create traction and smooth channels that shed water.
Above: EDCO’s steel roofing panels are available in a variety of colors and styles such as the Arrowline Enhanced Royal Brown Blend Slate shown here. The panels are backed by a non-prorated limited lifetime warranty that includes a Class 4 impact rating.
Above: Recently introduced from DuPontTM Tyvek® is Tyvek ProtecTM synthetic roofing underlayments. Engineered to address the importance of safety on the roof, DuPont says its Protec products have industry- leading walkability. The Protec lineup features increasing quality, UV exposure and warranty values in each grade of the products.
Above: TechShield® Radiant Barrier Sheathing from LP® is designed to lower a home’s attic temperature. It installs in the same fashion as standard sheathing, but unlike conventional sheathing it features a thin layer of aluminum that creates a radiant barrier. TechShield Radiant Barrier Sheathing features a 20-Year Transferable Limited Warranty, and according to the manufacturer, the sheathing can reduce monthly air conditioning bills by up to 17%.
Above: Launched in 2015, CertainTeed’s metal roofing is available in three profiles: wood shake, slate (shown here), and clay tile. It’s made from specially coated and embossed steel alloy panels that, according to the manufacturer, replicate the traditional look of those materials while offering lasting color, high impact resistance, and strong solar reflectance in a lightweight and 100% recyclable form.
Above: ZIP System® sheathing available in 7/16″, 1/2″ and 5/8″ thicknesses has a built-in underlayment that eliminates the need for felt. The system is sealed at panel seams and valleys with ZIP System™ tape to create a high-performance sealed roof deck that is being used to meet voluntary resilient building guidelines for programs like FORTIFIED Home™.
To learn more about these companies’ products, visit their websites.
Companies in bold participated in this article.
American Building Components Inc.:
Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau:
Headwaters Roofing (Tapco Group):
LP Building Products:
Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.:
MFM Building Products Corp.:
Roofing products are not particularly exciting. Compared to other lumber and building materials such as decks, windows, doors and siding that are extremely visible from the curb and offer immediate visual sizzle, roofing materials can often fail to generate consumer excitement. Still, considering that the U.S. Dept. of Commerce reported new housing starts in January 2017 of 1.25 million—up 10.5% compared to the same month last year— and that a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey indicated that the average single-family homeowner doesn’t move from their current home for an average of 15 years (meaning that most current homeowners will be facing a reroofing project during their ownership period), roofing materials are a strong category and one that should not be ignored, especially when offered as a complete system rather than as one-off individual products.
As Alex Pecora, Residential Products Manager for CertainTeed Saint-Gobain Roofing, explains, “Most people will only buy one roof in their lifetime. We want everyone to have the best roof they can possibly get, and due to the synergies involved with the different components, a designed systems approach is the best way to build a roof.”
Strong Growth Projected
Demand and projected growth for roofing products is anticipated by Principia to be strong not just for 2017 but for the next two years as well. In 2016, 124 million squares of roofing material were sold, with architectural shingle products leading the pack at 71 million. For 2017, roofing sales are projected at 129.7 million, with the two years following projected at 135.9 million and 140.4 million respectively, with single-family homes leading the way.
According to Susan Homan, North American Roofing Segment Manager for DuPont Protection Solutions, “Growth is expected in both the residential and non-residential sectors; however, the residential market is expected to grow at a higher rate. Within residential, the single-family segment, at about 90% of the residential segment, continues to dwarf multi-family and manufactured housing, but the multi-family segment continues to see higher growth than it had in years prior to 2014.”
Jeff Key, Senior Marketing Manager for Georgia-Pacific, adds to Homan’s enthusiasm for growth, saying, “Based on the housing numbers we have seen through the first quarter and the projections for the rest of the year, we definitely anticipate growth in roofing projects both in residential and commercial construction.” Alex Pecora, Residential Products Manager for CertainTeed Saint-Gobain Roofing, agrees. “For new construction, we see indicators of some growth, particularly single family homes, as more Millennials are purchasing new homes.”
This is not to say that new construction growth is limited to single-family homes. Manufacturers see growth in multi-family construction as another profitable roofing materials venue. “I expect the roofing market to expand to meet the forecasted increase in housing starts,” says Bobby Byrd, Director of OSB Sales for RoyOMartin. “Multifamily should continue to grow, as this segment of housing will remain the most affordable to a large portion of the population.”
Growth in the roofing materials segment is not limited to new construction; in fact, manufacturers see significant growth opportunities from reroofing. According to Dave Derogatis, Director of Composites for Ply Gem, “There has been an increased residential demand because of hailstorm damage from Dallas through the Midwest and into Denver markets.” Cory Hunt, Assistant Marketing Director for Headwaters Roofing Group (a division of The Tapco Group), sees similar opportunity. “Roofing in general should increase as a result of growth in the building construction industry,” he says. “What’s exciting for us is reroofing projects are expected to have a large share of the roofing demand for 2017.”
Individual Products—One Whole System
Because of code complexity, an increasingly evolved sense of aesthetics on the part of the homeowner, and the potential for discounts when multiple products from the same product line are bundled together, it’s in the best financial interests of a LBM dealer to offer roofing products that function as a whole.
As RoyOMartin’s Byrd explains, “When properly installed in appropriate applications, roofing systems can not only be aesthetically pleasing, but they also offer structural performance, energy efficiency, low maintenance, affordability, insurability, proper ventilation, and no leaks or call backs. In decades past, the primary concern of a new homeowner regarding the exterior—whether roof or otherwise—was the color. Over the years, however, as building codes have evolved, building practices have gotten more complex and now focus on the system as a whole and not on singular components. All aspects of the structure must work together to perform to the minimum standards of the model building codes.”
Byrd goes on to add, “The average homeowner is looking for the ideal combination of affordability and aesthetics. Homeowners are typically surprised to learn of the complexity of the construction process. The educated building contractor wants a satisfied homeowner and functional system that performs to expectations.”
And in regards to the satisfied homeowner, another benefit that comes from treating roofing components as a whole system is the potential for lowering the number of subs involved with the roof installation. “Any time you introduce more products or subs, it creates more opportunities for something to go wrong, and that often is not felt until everything is finished,” says David Dellwo, Technical Services Lead for LP’s Warranty and Technical Services Department. “That’s the point where it becomes a concern about how [the roof] looks or how it performs. The first thing that happens, the subs blame the other guy. Having the roof installed as a system limits the number of subs involved. You’ll never get away from the framer, but you can have the roofer do the decking and the underlayment and the shingles, and by combining those steps it makes the builder’s life much, much easier.”
By purchasing roofing components as an entire system where the individual products work together as a whole, roofing contractors have the ability to present to homeowners a high-performing roof that homeowners will love, and dealers need to stand ready to provide such products and systems. “The key benefit is performance,” explains CertainTeed’s Pecora. “All components in a roof system complement one another to create the best possible roof. This is great for the homeowner, because they get a roof that looks terrific and will last for decades to come, and it’s great for the contractor because they know that the roof systems they stake their reputation on are engineered to endure.”
Performance and Longevity Drive Trends
Trends in roofing materials for 2017 are expected to follow a course set by previous years, with a continued emphasis on styles and materials that focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. And by staying at the forefront of these trends, suppliers and contractors both can differentiate themselves from the competition and position themselves as industry experts in the eyes of the homeowner, especially as roof designs continue to evolve and consumer expectations regarding product performance continues to rise. “We are beginning to see more complex roof designs on single-family homes, especially for the second-time homebuyer, as more complex designs are aesthetically pleasing,” says RoyOMartin’s Byrd.
One aspect of roofing products that drives product development is that of performance, both in terms of product longevity and in energy performance. For example, impact resistant shingles have become popular, in particular SBS-modified shingles, which are made from a blend of asphalt and flexible polymers that provide superior impact resistance, granular adhesion, and resistance to shrinking and cracking.
As Kevin Manning, Co-owner of Perma-Boot points out, “Shingles are now receiving a lifetime warranty when installed with a system setup by the shingle manufacturer. There is also a trend for installers to increase their warranty to 10 years, and to do this they need to make sure all components that they install can stand up to the environment on a roof.” CertainTeed’s Pecora adds, “Solar reflective shingles, particularly those meeting the requirements of California’s Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards and the standards set by the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC). These products are widely recognized for the benefits they provide in reducing the costs of cooling a building.”
As to materials, while asphalt shingles continue to dominate the market— according to Principia, in 2016 alone almost 93 million squares of 3-tab and architectural shingles were sold—trends show an increasing demand for alternative roofing products such as metal and synthetic materials. David Delcoma, Product Marketing Manager for MFM, sees the metal roofing segment as poised for growth. “We see statistics from the metal roofing industry that they are experiencing steady growth that will continue into 2017—both commercial and residential markets.”
Chris Doucet, Director of Sales and marketing for EDCO, a Minnesota manufacturer of metal roofing, shares Delcoma’s optimism. “In 2016 alone we saw metal roofing grow by 51.2%,” he said. “Consumers are moving towards materials that last longer, and metal roofing is perfect for meeting that demand. Plus people are looking to be more environmentally conscious, and metal roofing is 100% recyclable.”
Ply Gem’s Derogatis says, “We continue to see an increase in demand for engineered roofing products—from homeowners and builders alike; with significant growth in the residential market, both in the new construction and remodeling segments.” He goes on to say, “We’re also seeing the personalization of a home’s exterior becoming a growing trend in the past few years. Historically, a roof was treated as a secondary decision. Today, contractors, builders, architects and homeowners are considering the type of roofing used as much as they would their exterior home color, type of siding or windows.”
The trend in synthetics isn’t just limited to shingles but extends to underlayments as well. As DuPont’s Homan explains, “Synthetic underlayments are growing at a very fast rate, and are expected to overtake roofing felts in market share over the next two years. Within the synthetic underlayment category, product development will continue, with new products delivering superior functionality that makes roofing installation safer, easier, and quicker while offering better protection against water penetration—especially in critical locations like eaves, valleys, and chimneys.”
Sam Sprague, Vice President of Huttig Xpress, agrees. “We are continuing to see an increase in synthetic felt,” he says. “They provide great features such as being 100% recyclable and UV resistant, being lighter and more pliable than traditional felt, and being able to cover larger areas.”
As roofing products evolve due to trends, so to do the building codes that govern their installation. As well, codes change to better address natural factors such as wind velocity issues in areas such as those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and other storm-prone regions. “Codes and technology are the big ones for fostering change,” says CertainTeed’s Pecora. “For example, we’re seeing mandates in building codes calling for technological improvements such as solar reflectance, and also homeowners’ insurance policies requiring shingles with high impact resistance for those living in hailprone regions.”
Byrd sees even more code changes on the horizon. “The International Code Council is working on proposed code language to address moisture issues caused by unvented attic assemblies as related to the use of spray foam on the underside of rated sheathing,” he says. “Some individual states are working on writing or modifying their model building codes to better govern the use of spray foam in unvented attic assemblies.”
Byrd goes on to say, “The International Code Council has done a great job of engineering and integrating the whole building into the model building codes, both prescriptively and mechanically, as well as through performance criteria. Everything is connected in the codes, including the roof. All of the building parts are tied together and must work well together for the building to perform properly. Minimum building codes are published and adopted in three-year cycles; therefore, the way we engineer products for building, all the way to how we install products on the structure, must be constantly reviewed.”
If there’s one thing that all roofing product manufacturers agree on, it’s the importance of solid warranties both for contractors and homeowners. RoyOMartin’s Byrd sees warranties as one of—if not the—most important factors when it comes to the actual purchase. “Out of the dozens of purchasing decisions by the homeowner, the contractor, and everyone in the distribution chain, I have to think that warranty is near the top of the list of concerns,” says Byrd, “products that are manufactured to the voluntary standards of the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) and are third-party certified and verified by an U.S. DOC-approved agency to meet those rigorous product performance standards and their long-term intended use. This is peace of mind for everyone in the distribution chain.”
Ply Gem’s Derogatis shares the view of the importance of warranties, especially to the homeowner. “Warranties are crucial in a purchasing decision for any project—especially within the roofing category. Roofing is meant to last for decades and, if installed correctly, should protect the home with minimal maintenance.”
Headwaters’ Hunt says, “If you like knowing you are taken care of and feeling a peace of mind after a purchase, warranties should definitely be something you consider when making your purchase. A lot of manufacturers provide nice warranties on the outside but we’d suggest digging into the warranty to find out what your real coverage is over the lifetime of your products. It is also important to know what type of workmanship warranty your installer offers. Look for warranties that clearly define the same coverage over time as opposed to great coverage for the first few years of the product. This will be a good indicator for product quality and how the manufacturer will back the product.”
A well-warrantied product, however, is only half of the equation. While manufacturers’ warranties are commonly available, they only cover defects in products or complete product failure, not defects in workmanship or installation. For true piece of mind, contractors and installers need to offer a labor warranty in the event that the installation fails. As Perma-Boot’s Matt Manning explains, “With the amount of investment in a new roof, consumers like to know that it will last for a given time, but they also know that a material warranty without a workmanship warranty is not worth much.”
Product Knowledge Key for Sales Growth
With such a wide variety of roofing products available, it is key that distributors know what product aspects are most important to the contractor (and ultimately, the homeowner). Manufacturers stress the importance of understanding a product’s overall aesthetics, its durability and quality, and its sustainability. As well, manufacturers stress that it is vital for a distributor to sell the right product for the right environment such as radiant barrier systems in hot climates or fire resistant products in areas prone to forest fires.
In addition, two other areas manufacturers stress that dealers should focus on is ease of installation and overall product safety, issues that allow work to go smoothly. By showing how it’s possible for contractors to work smarter rather than harder, and by offering roofing products that create a safer working environment during installation (such as with underlayments that provide increased walkability), distributors give contractors the ability to actually do fewer total installations while making more money.
The importance of being able to stress working smarter rather than harder is especially important considering the shortage of laborers, not just in the roofing segment but in the construction industry overall. In 2016, NAHB estimated that there were approximately 200,000 unfilled construction jobs in the U.S., a jump of 81% in the last two years. “Construction contractors experiencing the industry-wide labor shortage are looking for new and effective ways to reduce their labor requirements,” says DuPont’s Homan. “Products that reduce overall job time or contribute to safer environments are valuable for labor productivity.”
In order to meet these challenges, manufacturers are offering education and product support programs to both distributor and installer. “We are mindful of the installer and their needs,” says CertainTeed’s Pecora, “so we continue to update our contractor programs to give building professionals the latest and greatest in product and installation education, sales and marketing tools, manufacturer rebates, promotions, and more.”
Manufacturers agree that it is key to provide great communication and support to its customers, both in the form of training materials, product samples, and direct person-to-person training. In the case of CertainTeed, Pecora says, “Most of the sales of our roofing products are done by specialized building material distributors, and we provide them with specific literature, sample boards and digital tools. We encourage all of our partner distribution channels to have frequent discussions with their CertainTeed reps for the latest news and information relative to their region.”
In the case of RoyOMartin, a strong emphasis is placed on education. Says Byrd, “We schedule accredited AIA and builder continuing-education classes on a regular basis. These cover not only our products, but also a number of other topics relating to the whole building system, such as the benefits of Forest Stewardship Council-certified products and LEED requirements.”
MFM’s Delcoma says, “We continue to offer our customers with a wide variety of marketing tools to help them sell our underlayments—literature, samples, counter cards, counter mats, signage, videos, PowerPoint presentations, invoice stuffers, banner stands and giveaways.” Likewise, Ply Gem offers to its dealers a wide range of support collateral ranging from full single samples to sample boards to brochures and retail display racks and towers.
Along with offering free two-square sample rolls of its products, DuPont offers to its distributors and installers its Building Knowledge Center, a resource for building envelope installation and design best practices. In the Building Knowledge Center, users have access to information on everything from proper installation techniques and wall system design to building codes and energy efficiency tips. “It is a dedicated source for information,” says Homan, “that can help construction professionals, including roofing dealers, apply innovative building science to the challenges of creating durable, comfortable, energy efficient homes and commercial structures.”
Planning for the Future
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, roofing sales are predicted to increase from 129.7 million squares of material to 140.4 million by 2019. With these kinds of predictions, LBM dealers and distributors cannot afford to look at the roofing category as an afterthought. By providing a deeper product line within the category, and by offering products that form a roofing system as a whole rather than a conglomerate disparate of parts, distributors will be able to build purchase loyalty with contractors while simultaneously offering a wide array of products that appeal to consumers both aesthetically and performance-wise. After all, when the right product lineup is offered and backed up with installation training and service support, both contractors and consumers will think twice about going somewhere else with their business.