In Depth: Roofing systems
Improved performance, aesthetics drive roofing innovation.
Roofing demand usually comes from two places—housing starts and storms. And with that in mind, roofing system manufacturers are expecting 2018 to be another good year following a strong 2017. The National Association of Home Builders is projecting 2018 housing starts to increase to 1.247 million this year, up from 1.208 million in 2017. Single-family starts are projected to hit 893,000, up from 851,000 last year.
“Single-family and multi-family housing starts are expected to be strong in 2018,” says Rupa Kibbe, Marketing Manager for DuPont’s Tyvek Protec. “Consumers are also expected to spend more on remodeling activity. In conjunction with the recent tax reform and aging housing stock, all indicators point to a strong roofing market in 2018.”
Boral Roofing, which recently acquired the Headwaters brand, also expects to see growth this year.
“With the rebounding housing market, storm damage work and home equity gains, we expect steady growth in both the residential new construction and repair and remodel market segments,” says Marketing Product Manager Rich Thomas. “Labor shortages in many regions of the country will limit the pace of growth in some markets, but pent up demand will remain strong for the near future.”
MFM Building Products echoed that sentiment, noting the impact of last year’s storms.
“Our outlook for 2018 is very positive,” says David Delcoma, Product Marketing Manager. “There is still a lot of storm damage from the fall of 2017 that needs repaired [or] replaced. The cold winter also created a lot of ice damage, which will require roofs to be repaired or replaced. Even the California forest fires will have an effect on the amount of roofs that need addressed.”
Strong growth with innovation products
Manufacturers are particularly optimistic about the growth of alternative products that offer homeowners a different look than traditional asphalt shingles.
“We expect to see more growth in residential sales tied to specialty products, such as solar reflectance and impact-resistance, as well as continual growth for metal—whose popularity continues to soar,” says Alex Pecora, Director of Product Management for CertainTeed Roofing. “For the lowslope sector, while single-ply roofing will continue to hold the largest amount of market share, our belief is that the need for more durable roofing materials will result in a small resurgence for multi-layered asphaltic systems—particularly self-adhering systems in applications where occupant comfort and installer safety are important, due to the low labor cost of installing self-adhered systems.”
Consumers and contractors are becoming more knowledgeable about the benefits of specialty materials, such as metal roofing, leading to more acceptance of the products.
EDCO Products, which produces steel roofing, is seeing growth in its sales and market share, says Chris Doucet, Director of Sales & Marketing.
“The advancement in technology both in terms of look, certainly in terms of quality, is really starting to resonate with consumers and I believe that will only accelerate,” Doucet says. “The data that we have received from the [Metal Roofing Association] supports that notion and we don’t see any reason why we can’t continue to grow and gain market share. With all of the challenges that we have seen, with storms and fires…all the things that steel roofs stand up better to than traditional materials, I can only see the demand for metal products continue to grow.”
Contractors are also recognizing the opportunity for increased profitability from installing steel roofs, with its Class 4 impact rating and fire resistance, says EDCO Product Manager Steve Spaulding.
“I think with the impact rating people are understanding the strength of steel as more and more storms come through and we’re seeing hail damage,” he says. “All our metal roofing comes with a Class 4 impact rating, which is the highest it can be. Fires are becoming a big issue and obviously metal is far more resilient to fires and even just your typical embers that might be floating around, so there’s benefit there.”
The wave of storm-damaged roofs over the last several years has also helped Ply Gem grow sales of its engineered slate and shake products as it enters several new markets in the Midwest, says Director of Composites Dave DeRogatis.
Cities “in that market, have had some significant hail storms—damage to tens of thousands of homes, and we’re seeing where homeowners are looking for higher-performing alternatives to traditional roofing,” he says. “So, they’re starting to look at those products that perform better. Perhaps, and we’re hearing this, they’re tired of replacing their roofs year after year, from hail.”
Ply Gem also recently received Florida building code approval for its roofing and expects to have Miami-Dade approval later this year. With slate roofs being damaged by the hurricanes in the state, the Ply Gem synthetic slate roof tiles offer an attractive alternative, DeRogatis says.
“We were actually awarded a job that we started in March that was a large villa complex on the west coast of Florida where Hurricane Irma destroyed the natural slate roofing…and we’re in the process of replacing about 60 roofs in that community, and simply because we perform better than natural slate,” he says. “The naturalslate couldn’t hold up to the wind of Hurricane Irma, therefore being brittle, cracking, etc. And our tiles achieve 193 mile-per-hour plus rating, which is the highest wind class, the new class of wind rating in the U.S.”
With more in wildfires, LP Building Products is also seeing increased demand for its Flame Block Fire-Rated OSB sheathing. FlameBlock is a codecompliant alternative to FRT plywood.
“We’re doing quite a bit with education and awareness to let people know that FlameBlock’s not only good for the walls, interior, and exterior, it can also be used for roof applications,” says FlameBlock Product Manager Sarah Caperton. “Codes are becoming more and more stringent every year. They’re wanting to take a safer look at how we can continue to make homes safer, buildings safer, and with that it’s actually beneficial for FlameBlock, because FlameBlock has the ability to help with those one- and two-hour fire walls.”
FlameBlock also makes the job easier for installers as, unlike FRT plywood, there’s no need to add an extra layer of felt paper on top of the roof deck before adding the shingles.
“We’re competing directly with FRT plywood and as they impregnate the panels they have to take a 1/8″ deduction, where a 7/16″ FlameBlock panel is a true 7/16″ panel,” Caperton says.
FlameBlock can also be used with LP’s TechShield radiant barrier on the same roof to provide increased energy efficiency. TechShield is celebrating its 20th anniversary and the product is more popular than ever as homeowners look to save on energy bills, says Kayla Boyce, TechShield Product Manager.
“We are that original No. 1 brand of radiant barriers,” she says. “We definitely have our reputation behind us. Beyond that, what sets us apart from other radiant barrier products is our patented vapor vent technology. We’re the only radiant barrier that makes vapor vent. And really, when you’re building a home quickly I think that’s important, just making sure that the roof deck can dry out as quickly as possible and you can get on your way with closing it all up.”
Of course, a good roof is about more than performance and energy efficiency. It also must look good.
“While performance is more important than ever, aesthetic tastes have not deviated,” Pecora says. “We’ll continue to see new products introduced that imitate the very popular classic look of traditional materials such as wood shake and slate, but with specialized features that address the big industry pain points. As examples—to combat hail there will be more Class 4 impact resistance-rated products; and to help homeowners reduce energy use there will be a greater number of roofing products with cool roof colors introduced into the market.”
CertainTeed recently introduced it’s Arcadia Shake, a heavyweight four-layer asphalt laminate designed to replicate real wood shake. After an introduction on the West Coast, the product has been rolled out to include parts of central North America.