Roofing Trends: Regionalities Drive Innovations
authors Patrick O'Toole
Twelve months ago, the hottest thing in roofing was not available to roofing contractors. Billionaire CEO Elon Musk had recently unveiled three styles of photovoltaic roof shingles available through a sister company to Tesla Motors, SolarCity. The launch at the end of 2016 was a splashy media affair, presenting the humble roof as a key part of a solar vision for the future. Stylish solar shingles can send power to larger batteries that could then be used to charge vehicles—a neat, sustainable circle.
Going into 2018, the innovations are much more here and now, but no less important—particularly in specific regions of the country. In interviews with seven roofing product manufacturers, Qualified Remodeler found one overarching theme: regionality. A number of different asphalt shingle product lines have been upgraded and enhanced to meet new solar reflectivity standards for California’s Title 24 energy codes, as well as for Energy Star’s more stringent standard for energy efficiency.
In addition, there are a raft of new products designed for storm and hail situations. These IR, or impact-resistant, products include special, more flexible polymers that bounce back into shape quickly. These shingles also earn insurance premium reductions for homeowners in hail-prone areas of the central and southern U.S. who choose to have them installed. These reductions help offset the higher price tag for these products.
Regionality also plays a significant role in the new colors and profiles that are being offered by nearly every asphalt, composite and metal roofing product manufacturer. Some profiles and colors tend to look better on higher-pitched, steep-sloped roofing found in older, more traditional homes in the East and Midwest. While other colors and profiles are preferred for lower-sloped, often ranch styles, prevalent in the West and South. The tricky part for roofing manufacturers is staying on top of these changing color and style trends as they move from trend-setting regions, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, inward from the coasts.
In conversations with TAMKO, GAF, Owens Corning and CertainTeed Roofing, increased reflectivity products were highlighted. California’s ambitious energy code Title 24 is driving this trend, as is Energy Star’s increasingly stringent standards for energy efficiency. Dan Witte, senior product manager for GAF, says the company is promoting its reflective additions to the popular Timberline HD product lines; the Timberline HD Reflective series was launched in April of 2016. Earlier this year (March 2017), four colors were reformulated and three additional colors launched, brining the series to 10 colors. The most requested is charcoal/black.
According to Witte, the granules being made with a special reflective coating is what determines compliance with Title 24 and Energy Star. Energy Star requires 25 percent reflectivity while Title 24, which is required for new roofs in California, is 16 percent. The level of reflectivity offered in the new GAF products is at least 16 percent and goes up to 20 percent, depending on the lightness or darkness of the color selected.
“We are also seeing demand for our reflective colors in neighboring states out west,” says Witte. “We do expect and anticipate that California codes will expand and be adopted elsewhere over time.”
Alex Hines, marketing director for TAMKO, says his company offers new cool roof technology asphalt products up to Energy Star standards. The company presently does not ship to the West Coast, but it is seeing increased demand for reflective products in many parts of the country. TAMKO is offering this high level of reflectivity in a traditional three-tab product vs. laminated product, providing cost savings to the homeowner.
Impact-resistant products are proliferating at a rapid rate. And in many cases these benefits are being added to existing product lines that are very familiar to roofing contractors and remodelers. Such is the case with CertainTeed’s Belmont product
line, which is available in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. says Alex Pecora, director of residential product marketing for CertainTeed Roofing.
Belmont is a slate-like product line that was introduced as a cost-effective replacement for the ground-breaking Grand Manor slate-like product that the company introduced many years earlier. The Belmont product line looks great on high pitched roofs and, in 2018, its entire palette of colors is available in a Class IV impact-resistant formulation, which makes them eligible for insurance discounts, Pecora points out.
IKO also offers a number of IR products, explains Scott Campbell, director of field sales for the company. The company’s Cambridge product line now offers Cambridge IR.
“We are starting to see a shift in products—not just at IKO, but in the industry as a whole. We are starting to see a trend towards higher performance shingles,” Campbell notes. “We have had a standard architectural shingle for many years with similar technologies. And we are starting to see, including IKO specifically, a trend towards the improvement of the asphalt, and also in the application of the product.”
Campbell is referring to new versions of the Cambridge line that are not only impact-resistant, but also equipped with its new Armor Zone technology, a reinforced nail line and a woven band through the back of the shingle, which offers another regional benefit for cold climates. “This improves our cold weather applications, so installers can install in the cold as the shingles tend to get a little more brittle. It prevents some blow through on the nail gun. It also gives them a 140-mph-wind warranty with only four nails.”
Boral Roofing, based in Irvine, California, is best known for its clay and concrete tile products that have been sold mostly to new homebuilders over the past 25 years. Way back in the 90s, they carried the brand Monier because the product line was a joint venture between Boral and Monier. They have been sold as Boral for many years. Today, Boral is focusing much more on the repair and renovation market, says Rich Thomas, the company’s marketing leader.
Boral is also growing through acquisition. It recently acquired the Inspire, Metro and Gerard product lines as part of Boral’s acquisition of Headwaters last year. According to Thomas, the composite Inspire product line will be known as Inspire by Boral. The same goes for Metro and Gerard metal roofing product lines. The EnviroShake product line, also part of the acquisition, was discontinued.
For Boral, all of this caused a rethinking of the way they approach the roofing market, now that they have so many different types of product lines with varying regional initiatives.
“We have shifted our focus from being a Roofing 101 type of company to be more of a forward-thinking design company,” Thomas says. “Instead of reflecting the market needs and wants, we are trying to be innovative and stay ahead of the market.”
To that end Boral, like many companies, has engaged with an outside consulting firm to get the right mix of colors and profiles that customers not only want now, but will want in the coming years. The firm they have been working with, Alias Color—which has consulted for PPG Paints and a diverse array of manufacturers in many sectors—took a holistic approach incorporating social, architectural and demographic factors into the rationale for style and color changes.
The dominant social trend to emerge, Thomas says, is information overload, which is leading to a trend in architecture and colors called “Sensorial Relief.” (If you are attending the International Builders’ Show, you can visit the Boral booth and see a presentation by Alias Color to get more detail on this trend.) The resulting architectural styles are trans-contemporary and transitional. From a color standpoint, there is a massive simplification occurring in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Thomas adds, where a three-color house is now only one or two colors.
“We are now offering very flat, very smooth profiles (clay and concrete), and [moving] away from very bright colors to more subdued, monochromatic tones,” Thomas explains. “For us to change a tile design is a pretty big deal because you have to spend millions on new molds, but as a company we are heading down that path.”
Asphalt manufacturers are also taking new color cues. TAMKO’s Heritage product line is introducing four new colors at IBS: Rustic Brown, Gray Mist, Driftwood and Painted Desert. These are primarily for the Southeast markets, TAMKO’s Hines notes. For the Northeast and Midwest, there is one new color, Timberwood.
From GAF, the HD Reflector Series is available in 10 colors. And design and color are a big focus for Owens Corning, says Sue Burkett, a roofing marketing leader with the Toledo, Ohio-based company. “Clients want to have a designer help them choose colors when they are picking a roof, but design is often not the strong suit for a roofing contractor or remodeler,” Burkett says. “So that is what we are focusing on this year. We have done a lot of research with homeowners and taking those ideas and giving the tools to contractors in the form of 27 different style boards that are available on our site for homeowners to help make choices before the contractor comes out.”
Burkett says the company also offers a series of videos and online tools designed to help clients work their way through the design and color options, because there are so many.
In 2018, roofing product trends will start in a number of regions and make their way out to other parts of the country. Remodelers and contractors should work with their preferred vendors and distributors to stay on-trend with design and performance options. In many cases, those options will lead to happier customers who buy higher margin products. |QR