Shelter from the Rain

Even with a recession, $13.6 billion worth of residential roofing products shipped last year, and with a heavy snow fall on the East coast this past winter, that number is expected to increase in 2010. Aesthetics are a factor in residential roofing, but to a greater extent tax incentives are suspected in leading a charge toward energy-efficient roofing. In the mind of the consumer though, value is the key word as they are reluctant to pay premium prices for roofing.

Consumers are traditionally apathetic when it comes to roofs, but are starting to take a bigger interest in it. Eighty-five percent of the market is covered with asphalt shingles, making it a pretty easy sell for a contractor to just reroof with another asphalt roof. With the average asphalt shingle roof being replaced every seven to 10 years and people living in a house longer, homeowners will replace their roof two or three times.

Homeowners are becoming more aware of the fact that the roof is sort of a fifth wall of the house and it can have a tremendous positive effect on the aesthetic of the house and the value of the home for long term. As they become aware of more affordable products and take the time to look at the value of different products, they realize they can have the premium look at a lower price.

“I think everybody is much more price/value sensitive, but they’re becoming more educated in regard to product lifecycle and performance,” says Ray Rosewall, president and CEO of DaVinci Roofscapes. “In areas where severe weather is more pronounced, some homeowners have had to replace their roof several times in a five to seven year period. They’re looking for something that is going to stand up longer. Even with insurance, they like the fact that they can avoid the hassle and the potential additional damage done when a roof is damaged during a severe weather event.”

Remodeling tools

Roofing product manufacturers know that they need to educate the public about their products. Homeowners are less concerned about what is going on with their roof than other parts of a typical remodeling project. To help get this word out, manufacturers are arming remodelers with training, certification and information to help sell their products and make remodelers money.

“A remodeler should make sure they’re up-to-date on best practices and new trends in the market, as well as understand their cost and what the homeowners are looking for,” explains Gary Urbanski, national sales and marketing manager for Trimline Building Products. “Homeowners want service and their cost driven needs are transitioning to value driven needs.”

Not all roofing products are created the same. There are some quality differences between products and manufacturers. Remodelers, like homeowners should take the time to research the products and not buy on price alone. It is also important to look at installation instructions and what videos, blogs or Q&A items might be available to understand the product itself and see what is said about that category. Recommending a product to a client will reflect on the product as well as the remodeler, so it’s important for a remodeler to know what value the products they’re selling have built into them.

It is also wise to look at any credential programs that a manufacturer might offer. Investigate three or four different programs and see what value they have. Getting those credentials can have added value by allowing remodelers to offer extended warranties to the homeowner and set them apart from other remodelers. It’s also important since many roofing products manufacturers tell homeowners to only hire professional, licensed and insured remodelers with local roots in case any problems occur within a year.

Consumer wants

There are two schools of thought on what consumers are looking for when it comes to their roofs. There are consumers who are looking for value in a similar replacement roof. These homeowners are looking for a shingle or something similar they can get a good value out of for a simple reroof. The other segment is a higher-end client who is looking for long-term quality that really gives them that aesthetic difference or look to complete the exterior of their home.

“Probably the biggest value-added thing right now is Energy Star or solar reflective shingles that carry an Energy Star rating,” says Paul Batt, CertainTeed’s director of product marketing. “Our Landmark Solaris that we introduced in December 2008 is Energy Star rated because it has a high level of solar reflectants when you compare it to other everyday shingles. The fact that there is a homeowner’s tax credit for people to install these types of products has certainly driven demand for these products over the last two years.”

Over the course of the last decade there has also been a move toward higher-end products that have a more differentiated look and appearance. CertainTeed’s Grand Manor is a high-end five-layer product with a lifetime warranty. Consumers look toward products with 40-, 50-year and lifetime warranties. They’re trying to get more for their money.

In terms of colors, choices really haven’t changed in the past few years. Homeowners tend to be pretty traditional when it comes to their selection of roofing. As people look for cool roofs, lighter colors are coming back into vogue, like silver birch, that carry an Energy Star rating.

“I think homeowners now, especially with the Internet and the product information that is available, have become more cognizant with trying to find products that marry with the rest of their home and look coordinated,” adds Batt.

“Whether they have vinyl or fiber cement siding, they are trying to find a roofing product that coordinates with their home. Homeowners are starting to ask more questions about what is available to them.”

Endless choices

Consumers typically appreciate the look of traditional roofing materials like wood, clay and slate, but prefer to avoid the high cost and performance limitations many traditional products have. Eagle Roofing Products offers cost-effective concrete tiles and advanced thermoset polymer roofing products designed to emulate the look of authentic, traditional materials.

“Consumer research has shown homeowners are looking for a wide array of roofing products from both an energy-efficient and aesthetic perspective,” says Jay Banister, Eagle Roofing Products and Eagle Solar national solar and marketing manager.

MonierLifetile is also a manufacturer of concrete roof tiles. Their designs and shapes range from Spanish styling to traditional Craftsmen type flat tiles. They also produce a product that simulates the look of real wood as a replacement for wood shingles.

“In various markets, we offer various weight classes primarily due to freeze zones,” explains Bob Pacelli, marketing communications manager for MonierLifetile. “In a freeze zone, the roof needs to be somewhat enforced at a cost of anywhere from $500 to $2,000 depending on the structure of the house and the newness of the structure for our standard product line. When you start coming South, we have a lightweight product that is a direct replacement for a wood shake or asphalt tile.”

CertainTeed carries a broad range of roofing products, predominately asphalt-based shingles. On the residential side it manufactures everything from 20-year strip shingles to high-end, luxury asphalt shingles. It also produces plastic composite products that mimic authentic slate.

DaVinci Roofscapes has three distinct families of products. At the upper end are its multiwidth slate and shake products that began the company. It has also started a single-width line of the slate and shake products last year in response to what it saw as a greater focus on value by homeowners.

“As home values softened, people became less inclined to spending what they would have maybe the year previously, remodeling their homes, including their roofs,” says Rosewall. “We were able to come up with some technology that allowed us to offer a single width product, but with multiple colors or a color blend that allows us to offer color variation without the added cost of sorting.”

An entry level product that is positioned against laminates is DaVinci’s Belleforte. The benefit of this product is the technology behind the product reduces the need for materials by about 25 percent which reduces weight and cost and has a lower carbon footprint. It’s also self-aligning, both vertically and horizontally, and is very simple to put on once the first course is started. This allows the installer to double their productivity when compared to traditional shake or slate synthetics.

Trimline Building Products offers a composite roofing product called Distinction. Available in a slate or tile form these products have a guaranteed long-term performance and have a third of the weight of the real thing. These products also can be installed on existing buildings without structural modifications.

GAF’s Timberline Prestique Lifetime High Definition Shingles are a thick, long-lasting shingle that cost just a moderate amount more than standard architectural shingles. For a wood shake look, these layered shingles are 32 percent thicker than standard shingles and combine with GAF’s High Definition blends to offer a natural look.

As the original stone-coated steel roofing system, the DECRA product line has a 50-year warranty, is lightweight and fire safe. DECRA’s product line is also freeze/thaw resistant and has a 120-mph wind warranty.

Met-Tile’s metal tile panel roofing system combines the look of tile with Energy Star “cool roof” performance and outstanding weather resistance. Easy-to-install panels weigh just 125 lbs. per sq. ft. and can be applied over existing shingles, solid decking or open purlins. The panels are 3 ft. wide and come in lengths of 2 to 20 ft. Met-Tile roofing comes in 10 energy-efficient designer colors with matching accessories and trim.

Looking down the road

Roofing products, unlike a lot of external building products, have a finite life. Seventy to 85 percent of roofing on homes are replacement roofs, so there is always potential work out there, which bodes well for people who focus on that in conjunction with improving other parts of the house.

“I think the future for roofing products is exciting,” explains Batt. “There are more products and styles available today than there ever has been in the past. As a manufacturer, we continue to try and innovate and make things available to remodelers and homeowners. Solar reflective cool roof products have been big lately. Photovoltaic products are going to be big in the future. It is a very exciting future.”

It’s true that more and more roofing companies are integrating photovoltaic panels. Eagle Solar Roof is a partnership between Suntech and Eagle Roofing products and comes with a 25-year power output guarantee. As time goes on, solar panels and roofs may be the norm, but until then homeowners are still just focused on cost vs. value.

“The roof is an integral part of the home, and should be carefully considered,” adds Banister. “It is important to evaluate the lifecycle cost of the roof. How much does the roof cost and how many years will it last?”

As remodeling clients seem less focused on their roof as they are other parts of their home, educated homeowners are leaving roofing recommendations in the capable hands of their remodeler. Time and again the roofing remodeler can change homeowners’ thoughts on what they put on their roof.

Use the E-Inquiry Form for more information on the following decking suppliers:

  • CertainTeed Type in 94
  • Cosella-Dörken Type in 95
  • DaVinci Roofscapes Type in 96
  • DECRA Type in 97
  • Eagle Roofing Products Type in 98
  • GAF Type in 99
  • Met-Tile Type in 100
  • MonierLifetile Type in 101
  • Opus Roof Blanket Type in 102
  • Trimline Building Products Type in 103

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