Between the increasingly volatile nature of weather across the country and uncertainty in the economy, there are few things homeowners rely on as steadily as the integrity of their roofs. However, consumers are making choices for their homes they’ve never considered before as unpredictable weather patterns sweep into regions previously unaffected by hail and wind storms, causing damage to their roofs.

Meeting consumer needs of innovation, cost-effectiveness and protection, while still maintaining that desire for aesthetically appealing exteriors, is a must for manufacturers. “People want a roof that not only has long-lasting curb appeal but also has comprehensive protection for their home,” says Davis Ellis, GAF vice president of residential marketing. The need for predictability has led many homeowners to focus on their roofs in the last year, choosing to prioritize their biggest asset.

Volatility of Nature

“Summers are hotter, the rain season is stronger, we have more flooding events than we’ve ever had, and the most active hurricane seasons on record; more and more you’re seeing that volatile weather in places where traditionally you haven’t,” explains Jeff Williams, IKO brand director of North America. This rise in expected but violent weather patterns has led contractors and homeowners to choose shingles and roofing options they might not have considered in the past.

TAMKO’s Cool Roof Rated Glacier White

“For too long people have associated impact resistant (IR) products of Class 3-4 products as just a hail solution; so, if you live in a hail belt you have to get an IR product, but that’s not the case anymore,” says Williams, who adds that there’s no longer a strict hail belt, with places as far south as Texas and as far north as Minnesota getting record damage reports.

“So you’re seeing an explosion across the industry of what we call Class 4 impact products. The challenge is [that] nature is unpredictable. We provide impact-rated product for the purposes of our homeowners to get a discount on their insurance policies [because] the insurance companies are recognizing that softer, polymer products resist impact damage a variety of sources better.”

IKO isn’t alone in focusing on impact resistance. Other manufacturers, such as concrete roofing manufacturer Eagle Roofing, are also focusing their work on impact resistance. Class 4 resistance is something Eagle Roofing has boasted since 2016.

Besides impact resistance, there are other volatile weather patterns contractors and homeowners must be aware of. Aaron Adams, DaVinci Roofing’s regional sales manager for the Midwest, South Central U.S. and International markets, stresses the importance of fire resistance as fire seasons grow longer and spread farther across the country from historical ranges.

Reinforced nail-beds have become more popular among contractors, allowing workers greater control over the placement of the nail and shingle while also speeding up construction, increasing productivity and decreasing the amount of time workers remain up on the roofs. Pictured is GAF’s Timberline HDZ shingles, worked in tandem with Layerlock technology.

“The Wildlife Urban Interface (WUI) building codes that are now being implemented out west are making their way through the mountain areas, and that’s a big deal in the roofing industry right now because wildfires and climate change are all at the forefront out west; and as that permeates the middle of the country, we’re seeing a big push in the high-performance aspect in Class A Fire Ranges and environmental and stable products in those areas as well as now in the Midwest.”

This is especially important, he says, as homes are rebuilt or repaired after fire damage, and where new developments butt up against existing wildlife areas, such as forests.

Performance Innovation

With weather and performance concerns constantly at the forefront of manufacturers’ and consumers’ minds, it’s not a wonder to know that performance innovation also comes up. GAF’s Ellis says, “Homeowners should be keeping products that combine premium performance with high-end design top of mind. Look for added features that protect against the elements,” including wind warrantees for roofing shingles, IR and algae-fighting power.

IKO’s Nordic Shingles are engineered for superior wind and impact resistance and offer a Class 4 Impact Resistance Rating.

Timberline HDZ from GAF is the first shingle to offer WindProven, a no-maximum wind-speed limit warranty when installed with LayerLock Technology. The LayerLock process mechanically fuses the common bond asphalt-to-asphalt to offer a new StrikeZone nailing area.

IKO’s Williams also emphasizes reinforced nail-zones: “We’re not just going to make a shingle, we’re going to make a higher-performing shingle, so we reinforce our nail zone with the FastLock sealant so that it sticks and stays.”

“These products are engineered for fast and accurate installation,” Ellis explains. “Products that can be installed fast and accurately are appealing to both the contractor and the homeowner.” It is also appealing to contractors, whose workers must spend less time on the roof and can finish a job more quickly without sacrificing safety and quality.

For contractors who are on the fence about the higher IR-rated products, Williams is ready. “Too often people will say, ‘Well that’s a hail shingle, I don’t need that!’ I disagree. I think if you’re a homeowner, you can’t take your roof for granted anymore; you have to put your roof up there with the thought that, OK, this protects everything, it’s important. We really talk about IR as an all attribute for every market in the country, and I think that’s a fundamental shift when it comes to the polymer modified technology.”

For IKO specifically, this means expanding the traditionally architectural design product lines to be higher performing, such as the ArmorShake Shingle’s asphalt basketweave pattern, which achieves the softer polymer impact resistance without sacrificing the aesthetics. “If you see innovation from us, it’s likely at this point not to be purely aesthetic. Everything that we’re focused on is improving the product and that speaks to duration and longevity.”

Built with additional reinforcement at the nail zone, Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration series shingles have a highly visible nailing area that helps provide consistent and quality installation, as well as reinforcement against wind uplift.

Polymer modified roofing has been gaining popularity, with prices fast becoming comparable to the more expensive asphalt options. The added IR benefits, as well as the versatility of the product aesthetics, are what draws a lot of homeowners and contractors to the material over more traditional shakes, slates and metal. “Polymer—or polyethylene, which is our base—is very stable from an expansion/contraction standpoint, so it holds up extremely well in any environment such as right on the equator where we have products and northern Canada where we have products and everywhere in between,” Adams explains.

Reflecting on Efficiency

DaVinci’s Bellaforte Shake Aged Cedar

“There are a lot of considerations for homeowners when installing a new roof, but one of the most prevalent we’re seeing is the need for more reflectivity in roofs. In California, for example, with Title 24 in place, new homes are required to have solar photovoltaic systems installed,” Ellis says.

This can be difficult to accomplish, with the majority of consumers and contractors choosing darker shingles for the contrast between facade and roof. Unfortunately, that creates a heatsink. Lighter colors, though less popular, reflect more and absorb less heat. This, together with minimum Solar Reflective Index (SRI) unit standards for California’s Title 24 regarding darker colors, means more and more shingles appearing on the market have reflective, cooling properties. The SRI value reflects how well a roof rejects solar heat.

DaVinci’s Bellaforte Shake Black Oak

According to Adams, “We can make almost anything cool-roof compliant, and that includes some of our darkest colors, just by incorporating some reflectivity technology into our roofing tiles. As the colorant is added to our polymer base, we can inject an additive that increases the reflectivity of the tile itself. It’s a nominal increase in cost.” Products such as DaVinci’s Cool Roof EcoBlend tiles, the GAF Timberline Cool Series, Boral Roofing’s Steel Cool Roof System and IKO’s Cambridge Cool Colors all fit the bill.

Williams explains: “The granules protect the asphalt, so they’re critically important to the shingle because the sun will break down asphalting over time, so that’s the reason we put granules over top is to protect the shingles. Then we do two things: We optimize the [color] drop, using granules that we know have certain SRI qualities, so the blend achieves the desired SRI rating, and then we coat the granules in home-safe chemicals, which helps preserve the life of the granule and improves the qualities of reflectance. So, it is a combination of two things: color reflectance of the individual granules as well as the coating technology.”

COVID Adaptations

DaVinci’s Bellaforte Shake Mossy Cedar

For Ellis, one of the most valuable developments he’s seen in the last year has been the use of digital tools and technologies. “We expect this trend to continue as more contractors leverage them to engage customers as they navigate business during the pandemic.” Aerial imaging for measurements and inspections like GAF QuickMeasure, Boral’s Virtual Remodeler or TAMKO Building Products’ Shingle Styles Visualizer are seeing significant industry adoption.

“These technologies are also finally coming together for contractors on singular platforms that help accelerate their ability to serve customers in a high-quality, virtual sales experience. [These offerings] help provide contractors with greater insight across their sales team, delivering more consistent sales and service to customers.”

“Virtual technology like this is more important than ever,” said Stephen McNally, TAMKO’s vice president of sales and marketing, in a statement earlier this year. “We are developing new resources for our contractors and dealers to help them operate and grow their businesses during this difficult time,” he added.

Contractors are adapting to contactless meetings with customers by using digital platforms, such as a the GAF Project, a customization digital sales platform that helps contractors with everything from lead management to payments. The end-to-end offering enables contractors to create a consistent selling experience that is easy to use and accessible anywhere.

As homeowners become accustomed to doing things from the comfort of their own homes, this rise in virtual scheduling and planning isn’t likely to go away even as hopes rise for the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the associated precautions and lockdowns, coming to an end.

“People are home more, so they’re taking better care of their spaces,” Williams says. “I think we’re going to continue to see a lot more of that in the coming year. But it’s hard to predict a trend. The trend right now is searching for predictability in a really unpredictable market and economy. We’re really aiming for consistent supply chain performance and trying to provide an expected—no, a better than expected—level of service for our customers.” QR

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