Roofing: Upward and Onward

by Kacey Larsen

Roofing is an essential part of every home, though it may not be a piece that homeowners interact with on a daily basis. Like many other decisions for the home, homeowners make their roofing selections based on many factors: color, material type, price, predicted longevity, energy efficiency and more. The good news for roofing manufacturers is it seems the market is on an upswing finally post-recession.

Kayla Kratz, product manager at Boral Roofing, has seen the remodeling side of business increase. “Since 2008, the reroof and remodel has been a growing segment for our company following the market demand,” she says. “When new build starts slowed down, we definitely saw an increase in reroof opportunities. Some of that is due to climatic events, and others are just the natural aging of the old roofing material they had on their house.”

One area, especially, several manufacturers are witnessing bounce back is the high-end roofing market. Director of Residential Product Marketing for CertainTeed Roofing Alex Pecora explains the recovery has led CertainTeed to launch two roofing lines — Presidio and NorthGate — aimed at the luxury market; a third introduction — Patriot — is more aimed for new contruction, which is also showing recovery. Presidio is the company’s first foray into metal roofing, and it is designed to replicate the appearance of slate, clay tile and wood shake roofing. NorthGate is an SBS (Styrene Butadine Styrene) modified asphalt shingle, and Patriot is an asphalt strip shingle with the visual of a laminated shingle, Pecora explains.

To address the high-end market, GAF introduced an addition to its Ultra Premium Designer category with its triple-layer asphalt wood-look shingle, Glenwood. “You may wonder: Why would we be creating a product that would be at the high-end?” Leslie Franklin, director of Timberline HD, Timberline Ultra HD and Designer Shingles for GAF, asks. “Statistics have shown luxury purchases have actually not been affected by the recession, so we saw this as a segment of the market where there was a need. There has been an expressed desire by people to extend their personal style to their home, and we are positioning Glenwood to address that market.”

Another roofing category seeing growth in the residential sector is metal roofing, and roofing manufacturers are responding. CertainTeed Roofing recently launched its Presidio collection; Headwaters Roofing Group offers its Gerard stone-coated metal roofing systems; and Petersen Aluminum has been steadily expanding into the residential market. Vice President of  Marketing for Headwaters Roofing Group Rick Davis shares that “in the past, it has been 90 percent of the product being sold is an asphalt shingle, but the fastest growing piece in the market right now is actually metal.”

While metal roofing is increasing in popularity, Mike Petersen, CEO of Petersen Aluminum Corp., recognizes the product may not be for everyone due to its cost compared to standard shingles. But like other products aimed for the high-end roofing market, the benefits may be worth the price considering the “life” of the product. “I think a lot of this has been driven by the whole green architecture movement. A metal roof can be expected to last many years more than a standard shingle application, and not only that but one of the inherent qualities of metal roofing is its solar reflectivity, which can lower the heating or cooling demand on a house,” he says.

Standing Up to Elements and Regulations

The ways roofing can contribute to the energy efficiency of a home continue to be of interest to roofing manufacturers as they strive to create the best systems for contractors and homeowners. Director of Composites for Ply Gem Roofing Dave DeRogatis sees remodelers and builders leveraging green products as selling features, and he wants Ply Gem’s roofing to be part of the conversation. “We are seeing a steady increase in consumer interest. As the availability of green products increases combined with changes in codes, ordinances and regulations, awareness and demand for green products continue to increase,” he says. “We continue to monitor any advancement in reflective pigments or coatings that would significantly improve the current solar reflective indexes found in today’s products. In each of these areas, we have exploratory work with universities, start-ups and internal research; working outside the industry is critical to the innovation in this category.”

Headwater Roofing Group’s Davis wants to remind consumers and remodelers selling roofing jobs that, while the upfront cost of a roofing system may present some sticker shock, the life cycle cost of a roof should be the bigger consideration. Replacing a roof every 15 or so years has a higher cost than installing one that lasts 30 or more years. This cost benefit, similarly, extends to the efficiency of the roofing system, because the heat gain reduction provided by an efficient roofing system will provide energy savings for the lifetime of the roof.
Kratz with Boral Roofing echoes the importance of a roof’s capability to stand up to time and the elements.

“The roof is exposed to the worst elements in the climate and is a critical barrier for the home in terms of optimizing energy efficiency. It’s very helpful for energy efficiency to have a roofing material that creates more of a barrier between the heat of the sun and the decking material,” she says. “We call our clay tile our sustainability rock star. There are few things more sustainable than clay. It has a high recycled content, it’s naturally reflective, and we achieved the very prestigious and difficult to achieve cradle-to-cradle rating that takes into consideration the full life cycle of the product.”

While product life cycle and energy efficiency may be growing concerns for homeowners, the reality is cool roofs may become a requirement for remodelers and contractors before consumer preference catches up due to regulations like California’s Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Some manufacturers saw cool roofing changes and requirements coming, like Petersen Aluminum Corp., who orchestrated a change in its color chart seven or eight years ago to boost its solar reflectivity. Petersen adds that metal roofing maintains its reflective qualities for a very long time because it is highly resistant to weathering.

CertainTeed Roofing’s Pecora anticipates cool roofing regulations will spread quickly, so CertainTeed is focusing on providing options for homeowners. “The focus is on cool roofs, and this leads to the market pushing for colors that meet these requirements in terms of asphalt shingles,” he says. “Considering CertainTeed just introduced a line of solar reflective shingles with Presidio and we’re expanding our product line, we’re going to work on this and bring the market a full range of designs and colors that are going to be compliant with the California codes and also Hawaii.

“In my opinion, this is going to expand and expand fast to the rest of the country, especially in the climate zones that are similar. This is something definitely affecting the market, homeowners and contractors,” he continues.

Color and Aesthetics

Cool roofing colors and solar reflectivity may be the priority for roofing manufacturers, but all of them recognize their products still need to appeal to homeowners. GAF’s Franklin points out color remains one of the primary decision-making criteria for homeowners, so GAF has enhanced the colors for its Timberline American Harvest line and launched its Premium Color Blends, incorporating the latest granule colors across its Lifetime Designer Shingle Collection.

Franklin describes the company’s process for creating colors to appeal to homeowners as following trends without being slaves to them. “In discussions with color experts, we’ve seen, for example, that blue is a color that is very on-trend. But a particular shade of blue that may be trendy today might not be trendy tomorrow, and because your roof has longevity you want a roof  color that will be timely now and in the future,” she explains. “So we create blends incorporating blue and complementary colors to come up with a more refined, long-lasting shingle color that would be applicable to many of our different  shingles styles and different home styles.”

Because of advancements within the roofing category in terms of colors and styles available, homeowners may be giving roofing selections more consideration when thinking about their whole exterior. Ply Gem Roofing’s DeRagatis sees “personalization as a key trend. The roof has become part of the home’s exterior, which may sound odd, but up until the last few years the roof was treated as a secondary decision. Today, people are considering the type of roofing to be as important as the type of siding.” In response to this desire for personalization, Ply Gem Roofing has introduced new shapes, like its “beaver tailed slate” and “radius butt end” to provide more options especially for historical projects.

CertainTeed Roofing has been developing cool colors, as mentioned, but also introduced its NorthGate SBS Modified Asphalt Shingles. Pecora explains this material has greater flexibility, meaning the shingles resist cracking which allows them to be installed in severe weather conditions.

Tools for Jobs

While the style, color and energy efficiency of a roofing system may be important components of the selection process, proper installation is key for making the selected roof effective, which is why roofing manufacturers offer trainings and materials to users. Headwaters Roofing Group has six training centers located around the U.S. and in Canada where they provide training on a monthly basis.

“We have contractors come to us, and they learn how to handle all aspects of the roofing. They bring their tool belts, gloves and hammers, and we show them how to install the Gerard stone-coated metal roofing systems,” Davis says. “Guys come in already being good roofers; they’re just learning how to make sure the installation process is followed so the customer gets the results they’re expecting.”

The tools CertainTeed Roofing offers to remodelers include its “Business Resource Catalog,” which is designed to provide business tools. Three apps are available on Apple and Android devices — the CT Visualizer, the Roofing Selection Guide and the Shingle Installation Manual — to aid in the selection process with homeowners and the installation process on jobsites. Pecora describes the company’s contractor programs of ShingleMaster and Select ShingleMaster as “a big difference maker for contractors.” Along with receiving visibility on the CertainTeed website, those within the program have access to the MyEDGE website where they can access marketing materials, track credential information and register warranties. Pecora explains that program members can offer better warranties to customers by meeting criteria like using the full system of products.

Petersen Aluminum Corp. offers two types of warranties, Petersen explains. One is a finish warranty which comes with the product. The other is a weather-tight warranty that requires the approval of construction drawings and details prior to installation, which will be followed by a pre-approval letter being issued to the contractor. A follow-up review of shop drawings and 80 percent of projects require a physical inspection of the jobsite before a warranty letter is issued to the installing contractor. The company also provides a jobsite tool in the form of its PAC-App. “We have an app with all of our flashing details on it for each of our profiles, so that’s immediately available wherever someone has a smartphone,” Petersen says.

GAF takes a different approach to creating the apps it offers to remodelers. “One way we try to differentiate is with the app technology we provide contractors and remodelers to help them improve their business, and so we have several apps that are available on Apple and Android devices,” Franklin says. “We conduct market surveys and research to gain insight into homeowner needs as well as areas that are critical to a contractor’s succes and then figure out how to translate that insight into something that can help contractors in their business. For example, homeowners said they felt more comfortable doing business with a contractor who provided a professional-looking estimate, so we created an app to help contractors provide a professional looking estimate, which is our Pro Roof Estimator app.”

Altogether the company offers six residential apps: GAF Virtual Home Remodeler, Colors, Videos, Pro Roof Estimator, Sales Pro and Tips for Pros. The company has two the GAF Certified Contractor Program — which includes GAF Certified and GAF Master Elite Contractors — and promotes its both within marketing materials and on its website. Website users can search for GAF Factory-Certified Contractors in their area by zip code, which Franklin says helps connect those contractors with good leads. QR

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