The last year and a half has seen changes to every facet of the roofing industry, from shifts in what consumers want to the global pandemic that has impacted everything from raw material manufacturing to the ordering process.
On-site at the 2021 International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas, BUILDINGS uncovered these top trends and issues in the roofing industry.
1. Supply Chain Disruption
The top topic on exhibitors’ minds was the disrupted supply process. COVID-19 has impacted every industry, and roofing is no exception. An informal poll conducted by IRE revealed that 94% of responding roofers have experienced supply chain issues, which impact roofing companies’ ability to obtain the materials they need for projects.
Building owners who need roofs repaired or replaced may find that costs have gone up as roofers and manufacturers struggle to obtain roofing materials in the quantities they need.
Some companies have been able to minimize wait times by obtaining materials made in the U.S., but COVID is still causing some delays.
“A lot of companies in our industry manufacture overseas or get materials that come from overseas. We manufacture in the U.S.,” explained David Stahler, director of distributor development for clamp manufacturer S-5!. “It’s our own manufacturing plant and all the material we get is produced in country—it’s not coming from Asia, so we have more control over lead times and QA. We are definitely feeling [supply chain disruptions], but where certain companies might be three to five months out [with backordered materials], we just haven’t experienced the same major delays.”
2. Changing Regulations
States are increasingly cracking down on products with high global warming potential (GWP). A slate of new state regulations that took effect on Jan. 1 targeted HFC-134a, which is commonly used as the blowing agent for extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam insulation.
Manufacturers responded by reworking their product formulations to eliminate HFC-134a without impacting the strength of their products, said Tiffany Coppock, a commercial building specialist for Owens Corning.
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The new regulations have taken effect in Colorado, California, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland, and Delaware is set to adopt similar regulations, Coppock said. Canadian environmental regulations have also been a major driver of the need to find alternatives to HFC-134a.
3. Material Preferences
Silicone roof coatings are growing in popularity as building owners strive to maintain buildings with a solution that’s easy to apply and repels ponding water, explained Chris Underwood, product marketing manager for KST Roof Coatings.
“Acrylics have always been king with asphalt second, however, both have continued to lose share to silicone and other technologies. The biggest shift in technology has been to silicone. We’ve seen a huge uptick in silicone based on the roof coating product mix,” Underwood said. “Even though silicone is not number one, it definitely has shown the most growth partly because of the ease of use—you don’t necessarily need a full system and many manufacturers will claim one coat coverage at the proper millage.”
These impacting trends and issues will likely remain in the near future for now as COVID-19 cases continue to spread around the world. And while change and uncertainty may be the challenges today, innovation is sure to follow in an industry characterized by resiliency.