Roofing Industry Unites to Form ‘Back to Work’ Coalition

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the buzzwords we keep hearing seem to be “unprecedented” and “uncertain.” However, some things are still certain even during the current calamity: every building needs a strong, reliable roof, and the work that the roofing industry does is essential.

These facts are the essence of the Back to Work on America’s Roofs coalition, which formed in March in response to the pandemic’s impact on the roofing industry and is comprised of the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA), Chemical Fabrics & Film Association (CFFA), EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC), Metal Construction Association (MCA), National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), National Women in Roofing (NWiR), Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA), Single Ply Roofing Industry (SPRI), Slate Roofing Contractors Association (SRCA), Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) and the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance (TRI).

Most construction was brought to a halt by state orders enacted early in the pandemic that closed or restricted all non-essential businesses. Recognizing the long-term harm this would cause, these 13 associations came together to advocate that the roofing industry be recognized for its essential role in ensuring home and business safety. The coalition sent letters to the White House, Congressional leaders and the National Governors Association that detailed why the roofing industry was crucial during this public health crisis and asked that any updates to state orders allow roofing work to resume.

As states began allowing construction to resume, our priorities shifted to focus on recovery. The roofing industry was already struggling with a backlog of work due to the ongoing labor shortage, which now has been exacerbated by the pandemic. As the unemployment rate hovers in the double digits, the Back to Work on America’s Roofs coalition is promoting four key policies to create jobs, support homeowner investments and encourage business owners to invest in capital improvement projects.

1. Recognize the importance of roofs for protecting homes and businesses.

Physical infrastructure investments made by Congress as part of COVID-19 response and recovery should reflect the protections that roofs offer to new and existing buildings.

2. Address skills gaps and provide opportunities to expand hiring.

The federal government should support efforts to expand career and technical education and address skills gaps in the roofing industry. Congress should provide incentives to businesses that increase their workforce above where it was before the pandemic by hiring unemployed individuals.

3. Provide short-term relief in order to enable long-term success.

Provide additional funding for programs created under the CARES Act, which have been a lifeline for small businesses in many industries, including roofing. Enable entrepreneurs to serve as the economic engine of the recovery by improving access to critical programs.

4. Adopt tax policies that incentivize improvements to existing homes and buildings.

Expand small business tax credits to allow for immediate expensing of capital improvement projects and accelerated depreciation for resilient, energy-efficient roof replacements. Provide targeted tax relief to homeowners to make home improvement projects more affordable, similar to what was successfully implemented after the 2008 financial crisis.

To advance these policies, the coalition has distributed a press release to publications in the broader building and construction industries and developed a media kit for all roofing industry professionals to participate in this advocacy. We encourage you to download the media kit and get involved in our outreach efforts by utilizing these resources, including social media collateral, the coalition’s position paper, a copy of the press release and an infographic that provides a visual overview of our policies.

A common rallying cry has emerged since the pandemic began: we are “all in this together.” The coalition is the embodiment of this statement. We are working together to navigate these unprecedented, uncertain times and overcome the challenges that lie ahead, starting by helping the individuals employed in our industry — more than 1.1 million Americans — get back to work on America’s roofs.

The coalition’s advocacy efforts are only part of the work that is currently being done. Keep reading to learn how these associations are supporting their members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA)

When states and local jurisdictions started issuing “stay at home” orders and other mandates in response to COVID-19, ARMA began providing members with regular comprehensive updates on local, state and federal regulations and initiatives regarding roofing as an essential industry, sometimes multiple times in a single day. ARMA’s Spring Committee Meetings shifted from an in-person event to a virtual format, ensuring that members were able to participate in key meetings from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Reed Hitchcock

ARMA also held two town hall meetings for members to share practices for keeping asphalt roofing plant employees healthy and safe during the pandemic. Members discussed their experiences on a variety of topics, including increasing personal and professional sanitizing, ensuring social distancing, implementing procedures for bringing employees safely back to work and developing enhanced measures for maintaining cleanliness. During both events, tools and resources were shared to help members comply with local, state and federal guidelines related to COVID-19.

– Reed Hitchcock, Executive Vice President

EPDM Roofing Association (ERA)

ERA dedicated a prominent portion of its website to information about the pandemic, focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the roofing industry and potential legislative and regulatory sources of help for our members and their customers. Additionally, ERA joined other industry leaders to send a letter to the White House urging the Trump administration to “issue guidance that clarifies essential businesses, services and workers, and that this guidance recognize the role of the roofing industry in protecting U.S. families and employers.”

Ellen Thorp

ERA closely followed the status of the construction industry as an essential business and urged the passage of federal legislation to provide financial relief to families and businesses. Further, we worked through a range of industry outlets to publicize our efforts and linked our website to other industry sites to provide a broad spectrum of information about the pandemic and its impact on our industry.

– Ellen Thorp, CAE, Executive Director

International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC)

IIBEC’s primary focus has been pivoting our International Convention and Trade Show to a virtual format. Our virtual meeting was held June 12-14, and featured 24 education sessions, a trade show with 65 exhibitors, and two live general sessions, including a roundtable of building industry association CEOs that is available for viewing on our website. We have also been adding new educational offerings to our online learning portal, including an eight-week course, Exterior Wall and Technology Science.

Brian Pallasch

IIBEC has joined with other roofing industry associations to advocate on a variety of COVID-19 public policy issues. Letters were delivered to governors in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington underscoring the ability of the industry to operate safely in the face of the pandemic and the significant role the construction industry will play in leading the nation’s economic recovery.

– Brian Pallasch, CAE, CEO/EVP

Metal Construction Association (MCA)

Jeff Henry

MCA is committed to providing updated and relevant information to its members and the public via our COVID-19 resource hub. We also transformed the 2020 MCA Summer Meeting (June 15-18) into a virtual learning experience. This was a unique and cost-free opportunity for everyone in the metal construction industry to hear the latest industry updates and connect with association leaders.

– Jeff Henry, Executive Director

National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA)

NRCA has offered valuable information and resources to members and the overall roofing industry during the COVID-19 crisis via our website, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), legal and insurance guidance. We are actively lobbying for federal legislation to help small business owners survive the crisis and also sent a letter to President Trump urging the administration to recognize roofing as an essential business.

Reid Ribble

NRCA issued surveys to gauge the experiences of roofing contractors during the pandemic to provide better assistance to members and the industry. We also hosted informative webinars, including “How to navigate crisis management in an ever-changing world,” which featured NRCA General Counsel Trent Cotney sharing steps employers can take to prepare and help their businesses thrive during and after modern crises. NRCA is committed to carrying on its mission to support and advocate for roofing professionals, address member questions and concerns, and keep the industry moving forward.

– Reid Ribble, CEO

National Women in Roofing (NWiR)

Renae Bales

While several industries have slowed down, resulting in unemployment for many American workers, the roofing industry is looking for employees. NWiR has partnered with RoofersCoffeeShop to launch a recruiting website for the roofing industry that will attract new talent and offer opportunities for companies to increase visibility for their job postings. NWiR also launched a series of online-based meetings focused on providing knowledge and supporting other women in roofing as we navigate this new normal. There are 1-2 webinars/virtual meetups each week, which alternate between substantive educational content and light-hearted chatting about common issues. Topics range from transitioning to working from home, to building your business through self-empowerment, to understanding federal legislation designed to help small and medium-sized contractors. These webinars and meetups are publicized on the NWiR calendar, sent to members via email and shared on social media.

– Renae Bales, Chair and Ellen Thorp, CAE, Executive Director

Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA)

PIMA plays a critical role in the ongoing monitoring, analysis, and dissemination of key information about the responses to the COIVID-19 pandemic at the local, state, and federal levels. Since March, PIMA’s Board of Directors has been holding weekly meetings to track the impacts of the pandemic on manufacturing operations and construction activities across Canada and the United States. Board members are sent daily updates about pertinent stay-at-home orders and provided with health and safety resources to help evolve existing practices to address the potential risk of COVID-19 infections.

Justin Koscher

PIMA is collaborating with allied roofing and insulation industry organizations while also transforming planned in-person association gatherings, such as its annual Mid-Year Meeting, into virtual events that are designed to deliver critical updates and offer valuable perspectives about the impact of current events on the building industry.

– Justin Koscher, President

Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA)

At the start of the pandemic, RCMA staff was on the front lines of an ever-changing landscape of policies designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. As the pandemic continued, we remain committed to mitigating the impact these policies had on the roofing industry and providing continued, uninterrupted support for our members. Staff provided remote support for advocacy initiatives that were unaffected by the pandemic and provided updates related to decision making at local, state, and federal levels.

Dan Quinonez

Our membership in the Back to Work on America’s Roofs coalition is an opportunity to foster consumer confidence in the roofing industry and advance our goal of safely providing uninterrupted service to roofs, the first line of defense against the elements. We will continue to serve the needs of our members as we move forward in the economic restart of the United States.

– Dan Quinonez, Executive Director

Single Ply Roofing Industry (SPRI)

Linda King

The SPRI office has remained open to support our members. Quarterly meetings were changed to WebEx meetings that membership felt were very effective, and committees have continued to have conference calls and online meetings to advance the association’s work. SPRI hosted a conference call for members where Tom Saeli, CEO of Duro-Last, shared how his company pivoted a manufacturing facility to produce PPE gowns and masks, which provided ideas and inspiration for other manufacturers to explore how they may also be able to assist in the ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts. Through the SPRI website and its e-newsletter, we continue to share information as our members head back to work under drastically different conditions then what they left a few months ago.

– Linda King, Managing Director

Tile Roofing Industry Alliance (TRI)

In addition to collaborating with the Back to Work on America’s Roofs coalition, TRI has provided real-time information on COVID-19 legislation and administrative actions to our members. This has been done through special reports on new paid leave requirements, Paycheck Protection Program loans, tax breaks, federal augmentation of state unemployment insurance program benefits, and guidelines and enforcement memos from OSHA on dealing with COVID-19 in construction.

Rick Olson

In addition, TRI belongs to the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), which produced a COVID-19 Exposure Preparedness and Response Plan. TRI also voiced concerns to Congress with other CISC members that forcing OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 would not help workers and would hurt the economic recovery. TRI continues to develop best practices for installation that prioritize worker safety.

– Rick Olson, President

New Restrictions May Affect Products Contractors Commonly Stock and Install

The roofing industry is familiar with changes brought on decades ago by international treaties that limited and then banned the use of products containing substances with measurable ozone depletion potential (ODP) — a relative measure of a substance’s contribution to the degradation of the ozone layer. The global effort to reduce emissions of ODP substances required manufacturers in the United States and Canada to phase out the use of CFCs and HCFCs in various products (example: polyisocyanurate insulation) and replace them with non-ODP alternatives. In certain instances, ODP substances were replaced by alternatives that had measurably high contributions to global warming, measured as global warming potential (GWP).

Today, under renewed efforts to combat the climate change impacts associated with the manufacture and use of products from insulation to refrigeration, U.S. state governments as well as the Government of Canada have implemented restrictions on the use of products containing certain high-GWP substances. For the roofing industry, familiar products that can contain high-GWP substances include foam adhesives, spray polyurethane foam (SPF), and extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam. In jurisdictions that restrict the use of high-GWP substances, contractors should be aware of the potential impacts that these new restrictions may have on products they commonly stock and install.

U.S and Canada: Development of HFC Policies

The effort to restrict the use of HFCs in formulations used by building material manufacturers (as well as other sectors) started in the mid-2010s as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed regulations under the Clean Air Act’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. EPA banned the use of HFCs in the affected roofing products, as well as other common end uses, by issuing SNAP Rule 20 in 2015 and Rule 21 in 2016. However, both rules were challenged and partially vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals – D.C. Circuit.

As a result of the Court’s decision on SNAP Rules 20 and 21, there is no federal requirement for manufacturers to transition away from HFC-based formulations for roofing products. Instead, states are leading the transition to the use of low-GWP blowing agent substitutes to formulate roofing products. The states have organized the U.S. Climate Alliance to coordinate on a broad set of climate related issues – including restricting the use of HFCs. (Information on the U.S. Climate Alliance is available at http://www.usclimatealliance.org/.) The Alliance has developed a model rule to guide the development of HFC restrictions at the state the level. This model rule has helped states move quickly to adopt rules to restrict HFC uses.

For example, California, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington have enacted legislation similar to what the EPA originally promulgated prohibiting the use of HFC substances in roofing products, such as foam insulation and foam adhesives and sealants. As of mid-March, at least 10 other states are considering legislation or regulations to restrict the use of HFCs.

For the Canadian roofing market, Environment and Climate Change Canada have enacted nation-wide restrictions on the use of HFC substances. As of January 1, 2021, no plastic or rigid foam product can use an HFC substance or HFC blend with a GWP greater than 150. The effect of these restrictions is that manufacturers using common HFCs will need to reformulate with new technologies or blends.

Which Products Are Impacted?

Certain roofing products like foam adhesives, one-component foam sealants, and insulation are formulated using blowing agent technologies. Blowing agents provide the final product with specific physical properties such as thermal performance or are necessary to facilitate the application process for the product. A good example of the benefits that blowing agent technologies provide is closed-cell foam insulation. In closed-cell insulation products, the blowing agents are retained within the cell structure to provide increased and long-term thermal performance.

However, different products use various technologies and not all products will be impacted by the restrictions described above. For example, polyisocyanurate insulation is manufactured with pentane (or pentane blends) as its blowing agent. Pentane is a non-ODP, low-GWP substance. Therefore, polyisocyanurate insulation is not impacted by the restrictions and roofing contractors should not expect to see changes in these products as a result of any HFC regulations. (More information on polyisocyanurate insulation products is available at https://www.polyiso.org/page/Low-GWPBlowingAgentSolution.)

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) roofing insulation is typically manufactured with HFC blends. Most SPF manufacturers have introduced new, low-GWP formulations using HFO technologies in the past several years. Roofing contractors working in states that prohibit the use of HFC-based products will need to be familiar with the available HFO-based SPF products. Similarly, low-rise foam adhesives and other foam products and sealants will be subject to the same restrictions as HFCs. (More information on spray polyurethane foam products is available at https://www.whysprayfoam.org/.)

Another common building insulation product impacted by the HFC regulations is XPS insulation, which is traditionally manufactured with HFCs. Projects that specify XPS insulation and are located within a jurisdiction that prohibits the use of HFC-based foam products will need to consult with product manufacturers to discuss the availability of low-GWP options.  

How Should Roofing Contractors Prepare?

The HFC regulations generally ban the use, sale, and installation of products that do not comply with the HFC restrictions as well as the ability to place such products into commerce. These restrictions essentially require manufacturers and product distributors to sell low-GWP formulations and require roofing contractors to ensure they are using and installing compliant products. In certain circumstances, the regulations have required some manufacturers to reformulate HFC-based products to low-GWP technology.

Roofing contractors should learn to identify products that utilize low-GWP technologies in order to ensure they are stocking and installing compliant roofing products in states with active restrictions. This will require roofing contractors to determine the answers to questions including: Where is the product being installed, and does the jurisdiction have HFC restrictions? Does the product contain HFCs? And, if yes, when was the product manufactured?

1. Install Low-GWP Products. Compliant roofing products are already available. These products include polyisocyanurate insulation as well as SPF roofing and insulation that is formulated with low-GWP technologies like HFOs. Other product manufacturers are still transitioning their product portfolios to low-GWP formulations. For the next several years, there may be SPF or foam adhesive and sealant products available in the marketplace that contain HFCs. For these products, roofing contractors should determine how to differentiate between low-GWP and HFC formulations. Product may be branded as “low-GWP” and some products will carry labels stating the product is compliant with state HFC restrictions.

2. Check Date of Manufacture. Thus far, each state with effective restrictions has included sell-through provisions that allow product manufactured prior to the restriction date to remain in commerce until they are used. Roofing contractors may still have products that use an HFC-based formulation in their supply chain. Roofing contractors that are planning to install these products in states with active restrictions should determine when the products were manufactured to ensure they can be used and installed.

3. Do Not “Import” Non-Compliant Product. Roofing contractors should closely track HFC restrictions in neighboring states. Roofing contractors that conduct business in multiple states should ensure they do not “import” non-compliant products that contain HFCs into states where their import and use is restricted.

The regulatory landscape is changing quickly. Currently, 10 states have pending legislation or regulation. The most practical recommendation for roofing contractors is to engage with their product suppliers to ensure they are aware of restrictions in the areas they conduct business.

About the authors: Justin Koscher is the president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), a trade association that serves as the voice of the rigid polyisocyanurate insulation industry and a proactive advocate for safe, cost-effective, sustainable and energy-efficient construction. Stephen Wieroniey is the director at the American Chemistry Council’s Center for the Polyurethanes Industry. In his role at CPI, he also serves as the director of the Spray Foam Coalition.

Good News For Businesses: The New Joint-Employer Standard

For the first time in more than 60 years, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) updated and revised its regulations for determining joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs federal minimum wage, overtime, hours worked, and recordkeeping obligations.

Over time, federal circuit courts have developed a number of different approaches for determining joint employer status, resulting in uncertainty for employers and workers, as well as increased compliance and litigation costs. The final rule issued by the DOL is intended to reduce uncertainty over joint employer status, promote greater uniformity among court decisions, reduce litigation, and encourage innovation in the economy.

The DOL’s Joint Employer Rule

The new rule, which took effect on March 16, 2020, limits the situations under which employers, such as contractors and subcontractors, are considered to jointly employ a group of workers under the FLSA. Under the FLSA, entities or individuals may be considered a “joint employer,” and therefore jointly and severally liable for the FLSA obligations, if it exercises sufficient control over the terms and conditions of another’s employer’s workers. But what exactly does that mean?

The DOL’s final rule sets forth a four-factor balancing test, replacing the previously applicable “not completely dissociated” standard, to assist employers with determining whether it will share liability for FLSA violations. To determine whether a second individual or entity is a joint employer of a worker, the DOL will examine whether the putative joint employer:

  • Hires or fires the employee;
  • Supervises and controls the employee’s work schedule or conditions of employment to a substantial degree;
  • Determines the employee’s rate and method of payment; and
  • Maintains the employee’s employment records.

The new rule makes clear that no single factor is dispositive in determining joint employer status, and the weight of each of the factors may vary based on the facts of each case.

Most notably, the new rule rejects the degree of “economic dependence” between the two putative joint employers and identifies additional factors which, standing alone, are insufficient to establish joint employer status:

  • Operating as a franchisor.
  • Maintenance of an employee’s employment records.
  • Unexercised ability to control an employee’s conditions of employment.
  • Contractual agreements related to compliance with legal obligations or standards.
  • Contractual requirements related to quality control standards.
  • Provision of a sample employee handbook.
  • Allowing an employer to operate a business on its premises.
  • Offering an association health plan or association retirement plan.

According to the DOL, “[t]o make joint-employer status more or less likely, the potential joint employer would have to not only provide such resources but would also have to somehow exercise control over the employees in relation to those resources.” In other words, a second employer must go beyond simply making resources available and must, instead, actually exercise control — directly or indirectly — over the various aspects of employment. For purposes of this rule, an employer exercises indirect control over an employee through mandatory directions to another employer that directly controls the employee. Merely reserving the right to control the employee’s working conditions or acting in a way that incidentally impacts the employee, however, does not indicate joint employer status.

The final rule provides a number of examples illustrating the application of the four-factor test to these and other business-to-business scenarios, intended to provide more practical guidance to employers with potential joint employment concerns.

Joint employers under the new DOL rule may be held jointly and severally liable for FLSA wage and hour obligations, including minimum wage or overtime. Joint employers may also be liable for violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII and other employment discrimination laws, and workers compensation laws.

The NLRB’s Joint Employer Rule

The new rule above applies only to the DOL’s interpretation of the FLSA. As such, it does not address “joint employer” status under other federal employment laws, such as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Like the DOL, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its final rule interpreting joint-employer status under the NLRA, which went into effect on April 27, 2020.

Under the final rule, a business will be deemed a joint employer only if it “shares and codetermines” one or more of the essential terms and conditions of employment of another employer’s employees. The essential terms subject to NLRB scrutiny include wages, benefits, work hours, hiring, discharge, supervision, and direction. In other words, an employer shares and codetermines such essential terms if it possesses and exercises substantial control over the employer’s employees such that the putative employer “meaningfully affects matters relating to the employment relationship with those employees.”

Importantly, evidence of indirect or contractually reserved control over essential employment terms and conditions may be a consideration for finding joint employer status, but is not, by itself, sufficient without further evidence of direct or immediate control over the employees in questions. The NLRB’s rule distinguishes between exercising indirect control and exerting control or influence over setting contractual objectives, expectations, or ground rules. The determination of whether an employer exercises indirect control over essential work terms or exerts control over conditions or expectations as to how a contract is to be performed “is an issue of fact to be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

Practically speaking, the NLRB’s joint-employer standard is significant to businesses because it determines whether a business: (1) has an obligation to bargain with labor unions representing workers employed by another entity; (2) is subject to union picketing or other labor dispute-related activities involving another entity’s employees; and (3) is jointly and severally liable for any unfair labor practices committed by another entity against its employees.

Shifting the Burden of Joint Employment Liability

While contract provisions regarding joint employment will not be determinative under either the DOL or NLRB rules, careful drafting can shift the costs of a joint employment determination. Construction companies acquiring labor from a third party, particularly staffing companies, should include contractual protections such as indemnification provisions, duty to defend clauses, and hold harmless clauses.

When drafted properly, these contract provisions would require the actual employer to defend the prospective joint employer against an adverse ruling on joint employment status and reimburse its costs in the event of a joint employment determination. Employers assessing their potential status as a joint employer should consult with counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable standards.

Summary

The final rules issued by the DOL and the NLRB effectively narrows the definition of “joint employer,” providing employers with much-needed clarity and encouraging greater uniformity in application.

It should be noted, however, that the new rules are not binding authority on the federal courts, nor do the new rules modify interpretations of joint employer status under state wage and hour laws.

For employers, particularly in those situations where an employee performs work for an employer and that work simultaneously benefits another employer, the new rules make it easier to comply with and understand the various obligations under the FLSA and the NLRA. Close adherence to the new rules, and making a conscious effort to mitigate potential liability, will certainly reduce compliance and litigation costs and give employers greater certainty in structuring their business relationships.

About the author: Keith A. Boyette is an attorney with Anderson Jones, PLLC. His practice areas include general civil litigation, commercial and construction litigation, lien and bond claims, and real property litigation. Questions about this article can be directed to him at KBoyette@andersonandjones.com.

Author’s note: This article is intended only for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice.

Tips From RT3 Contractor Members to Keep Business Flowing

After their jurisdiction mandated the use of hand washing stations on the jobsite, KPost Roofing & Waterproofing could not find a retailer with any in stock. The company manufactured their own units by adding spigots to brand-new 55-gallon plastic barrels. Photo: KPost Roofing & Waterproofing

It was mid-March when we had the first inkling that the coronavirus pandemic was going to leave a serious impact on business as we know it. Members of the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) board began talking on Friday, March 13, 2020 about what no one else was: the state of the roofing industry and how we can run our roofing businesses safely in the midst of this pandemic.

We decided to quickly organize a webinar for the roofing industry to share information, tools and resources that would help roofing business owners with their everyday operations. We had no idea what the response would be when we announced on Monday, March 16, that we were hosting this special webinar two days later. More than 500 people registered to attend and nearly 400 were on the webinar live. Since posting the first recording on the RT3 YouTube channel, it’s been viewed 500 times. Our organization subsequently held two additional webinars that were also very well received.

Leading Calmly and Confidently

In the first webinar, Ken Kelly of Naples, Florida-based Kelly Roofing said as a leader in your company, communication is key now. “If you’re communicating with your team early and often, everyone is going to be on the same page,” says Kelly. “Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty so there is a lot of fear. I don’t think we should let fear enter into our decision making, and you certainly don’t want to let fear be driving or preoccupying your employees.”

At Kelly Roofing, the company designated an employee to spend the entire day cleaning vehicles, offices, surfaces, door handles, bathrooms and light switches. He also reminds employees to maintain at least 6 feet of separation. Photo: Kelly Roofing

Dallas, Texas-based KPost Roofing & Waterproofing Company’s President and Head Coach Steve Little echoed Kelly’s thoughts. “Be calm. We have to make good decisions, not hasty decisions. We have to make decisions based on long-term and what is best for our company, our employees, our customers and our families.”

“So goes the leader, so goes the company,” says Kelly. He reminds us that it’s important to look at how you are acting around the office. Ask yourself if you are portraying someone who is knowledgeable and educating themselves on the issues. Are you being seen in the office? If your company is working from home, you can still be seen by your team, notes Kelly. There are many great virtual meeting tools from a variety of providers, some of which are free.

Little believes that companies should try to have employees continue to participate in the normal cycle of business. “If you have sales meetings on Monday and project management meetings on Wednesday and your operations meeting on a Friday, do your best to maintain a routine,” he says. “Your employees are looking to you to try to maintain some kind of continuity in what they are doing.”

Policies and Plans

Kelly likened some of the actions his company is implementing to those taken when his area is expecting a hurricane — the reason that he has taken his entire business into the cloud. He also recommends some simple things that you can implement, including making sure adequate supplies are on hand. “Things like if the gas tank in your vehicle gets anywhere near half, just go ahead and fill it up because you don’t know when society is going to decide to put something crazy on social media about gas and then everyone is going to make a run on gas stations.”

Little believes that a crisis plan and policies are must haves for your roofing business. “I’ve had the great fortune of collaborating with some really great people in the industry and sharing information,” he says. “I challenge you to do the same thing. Create a peer group that you can collaborate with and share best practices.”

He recommends turning to your industry associations for support and information as well. These groups have been working hard to assist contractors and are making sure that roofing is included in the essential business category everywhere they can.

Getting Creative to Meet Requirements

Kelly notes that he repurposed an employee whose role was to organize inventory in the shop and made him a full-time cleaner. “He spends the entire day cleaning vehicles, offices, surfaces, door handles, bathrooms and light switches. He is also our distance police, reminding anyone with less than 6 feet of separation to move apart.”

Little’s team has had to come up with some creative solutions as well after their jurisdiction mandated that handwashing stations be available on every jobsite. The company tried to order some but found that not only were they expensive — coming in at close to $1,000 each — but most places were out of inventory. So, his team got creative, ordering new 55-gallon plastic barrels and attaching spigots to dispense the water. Little shared that each station cost the company just under $100 each to make, including labor.

Cash Flow and No-Contact Selling

Cash is important during this time as well. Kelly says that now is the time to look at your payables and receivables. Prioritize them to maximize your cash flow. “We have two things to focus on right now,” explains Kelly. “Number one is let’s make sure we stay safe and that everyone understands our mission. Number two is we are going to make sure we are collecting cash on any job that we do have open. While we can work, let’s get them finished and into receivables.”

Little points out that you also need to change your sales strategy. “Business as we know it is no longer going to be that way and not just from this crisis. But I think what is going to happen is that the transition between the baby boomers and the next generation — this is going to accelerate that. People are going to see that we can conduct commerce without having to be in front of people,” says Little. “We can conduct business virtually. As you know business today, how commerce is done, it will change. And if you don’t change with it, it will leave you in the dust.”

Kelly shares that one of questions he is asked the most by other contractors is how to take your phones into the cloud using voice over Internet protocol (VOIP). “You can fire up any of these voice services — we happen to use Microsoft Teams — and you can then forward your main number through your phone company into the cloud account. You can either do it round-robin style where it rings one person, and if they don’t answer it will ring the next and so on. Or you could set it up that it rings everyone at once,” explains Kelly.

Employee and Client Communications

Your employees and your customers are spending a lot more time on social media, using streaming services, looking up information on the Internet and staying connected with friends and family. Reach your customers and your employees where they are right now by ensuring that you are active on your social media with the right messaging.

“Now is the time to be on social media,” says Little. “Not just for your clients but it’s time to get on social media to bring peace and solitude to your employees and their families.”

It’s more critical than ever to communicate with your customers that you are open, that you are following The Centers for Disease Control recommendations and OSHA guidelines for operating safely and maintaining social distancing on jobsites. It is important that they know roofing is an essential business in just about all areas of the country and that you can repair or replace a roof with no contact during transactions.

Accessing Shared Resources

For more information from Ken Kelly, Steve Little, and other members of RT3, visit the RT3 YouTube channel, where you can watch all three of the special webinars and benefit from the wealth of information that was shared, including sales and marketing and legal implications. A link to the resource documents shared by the participants is available in the video description.

About the author: Karen L. Edwards is the director of the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), editor at RoofersCoffeeShop, and a freelance writer and marketing consultant for the roofing industry.

Replacing Structural Metal Deck in Re-Roofing Applications

Photo: A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply

The commercial roof replacement project has been specified, the tear-off process begins, and crews are surprised to find unexpected corrosion and damage in the structural metal decking — the cold-formed corrugated steel sheets connected to steel joists or beams that support the roof system. They soon realize that large areas of the deck will need to be replaced, and the project grinds to a halt as crews try to figure out what type of deck is needed and how long it will take to get it to the jobsite. This doesn’t happen every day, but it happens often enough that specialty metal deck suppliers have evolved to help roofing contractors cope with such emergencies — and, hopefully, work with them to prevent similar problems in the future.

Roofing spoke with metal deck suppliers about the common questions they encounter and the ways they can help roofing contractors meet their needs. We also spoke with a contractor and a roof consultant to get their perspectives on issues surrounding metal decks and asked them to share some recommendations for successful re-roofing projects involving the replacement of structural metal decking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nick V. Polizzi is president of A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply, headquartered in Aurora, Illinois. The company got its start as a metal decking subcontractor, furnishing and installing metal deck in the Chicagoland, and it started stocking metal deck 27 years ago. A.C.T. Metal Deck eventually got out of the installation side of the business, and the company now has 15 locations in 11 states that specialize in metal deck distribution.

Polizzi sums up the most frequent queries from roofing contractors this way: “The most common questions we receive are ‘What is this existing deck?’ ‘What do we use if we can’t match it exactly?’ and ‘Can I get it today?’ That is, do we have it in stock.”

In industrial facilities, the deck is typically left exposed. Often corrosion and damage are easy to spot during a visual inspection. Photo: CentiMark

It’s the type of phone call that’s familiar to Matt Weiss, president of O’Donnell Metal Deck, headquartered in Elkridge, Maryland. The company has been supplying metal deck in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for 35 years from its headquarters and a second location in Darby, Pennsylvania. “I do the same kind of dance every day,” Weiss says. “I hear, ‘Hey, we’re up on a roof and need some deck.’ I say, ‘What kind?’ Often there is just silence.”

John D’Annunzio, president of Paragon Roofing Technology in Troy, Michigan, has been a roof consultant for more than 25 years. He says he can’t remember a re-roofing job over a metal deck that didn’t require replacing at least some portion of the decking. Even with a thorough inspection, surprises can crop up. “There are times you look at it from the underside and don’t spot any problems, but when you start replacing the roof you find some issues,” D’Annunzio notes.

These are the types of problems Mike Horwath, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for CentiMark, tries to anticipate and avoid. CentiMark is a full-service roofing contractor headquartered is in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, that covers the entire country. Horwath’s office is in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. According to Horwath, his company’s crews are taught to identify the type of metal deck and the thickness before work on the project begins. “We determine what type of deck it is and have some of it sent to the jobsite, so that if we encounter any damage, we are prepared, versus shutting the jobsite down and going out to get it,” Horwath says.

When emergencies do arise, Horwath maintains it’s easier to get replacement decking more quickly than it was just a few years ago. Specialty deck suppliers often have a wide variety of materials in stock, and they can offer other services, including making deliveries in phases as the job progresses, to help with logistics.

Roof Inspections and Safety Precautions

D’Annunzio and Horwath try to go into every job with as much information as they can gather at the jobsite. If possible, D’Annunzio recommends obtaining documentation and as-built drawings. Horwath agrees, noting that the customer, building owner and facility managers can all be excellent resources. “They will have the history and context to discuss leaks, integrity issues or problem areas,” Horwath says, “Areas affected by high humidity levels or other processes from inside the building are also susceptible to deterioration.”

Workers must follow a site-specific safety plan with proper fall protection equipment during deck removal and replacement. Photo: CentiMark

The use of the building can be a critical factor. Certain industrial processes can raise a red flag. “Trash-to steam plants have ash houses with high pH levels. A pool environment can have very high humidity levels. Batteries and other manufacturing can involve acidic processes,” says Horwath. “Those are three of the most common points of concern: chemicals, high levels of humidity, and pH level.”

A visual inspection of the underside of the metal deck can provide crucial information. “We try to look at the underside of the deck from the interior, but it’s not always possible,” D’Annunzio notes. “In industrial facilities, the deck is typically left exposed, but in office buildings and retail locations, you often don’t have access from the interior to look at the deck.”

The underside of the metal deck should be examined for excessive corrosion, openings and abrasions, and structural damage, including deformation and deflection. “All areas that illustrate structural damage and/or excessive corrosion should be considered safety concerns and should be barricaded off at the roof level,” says D’Annunzio. “If the interior of the metal deck has been painted, a close-up inspection from a ladder or man lift may be required. The level of corrosion can often be determined by banging on suspect areas of the deck with a hammer.”

Sheets of metal deck are lifted to the rooftop. Decking should be secured by certified riggers. Photo: O’Donnell Metal Deck

Safety is the paramount concern, even at the inspection stage. Inspectors should never walk on a roof that isn’t safe. “First off, all personnel should have proper safety training and be properly trained to inspect decking,” Horwath states. “For our guys to go up on the roof, they have to be able to do an underdeck inspection and verify that no condition exists that would create a fall hazard in the roof. If they cannot do that, they would have to assume that there is a fall hazard, and they would have to set up fall protection to do that inspection.”

If a fall hazard can’t be ruled out, it has to be assumed that the potential for a fall hazard is there, and a site-specific safety plan with proper fall protection equipment is required until it can be proven that the decking is safe. If problems areas are discovered, they should be marked and barricaded off. “We will establish the level of severity and put together a fall prevention plan for the guys to follow,” Horwath says.

When inspecting the roof system on top of the building, core cuts can provide visual clues about the deck. D’Annunzio notes that core cuts are typically done on every project, and if corrosion is evident on the deck, he will expand the test cut to see how extensive it could be.

The inspection process should continue throughout the project, according to D’Annunzio. “During the remedial roof removal process, the metal deck should be inspected on a daily basis,” he states. “Deck panels that exhibit extensive corrosion and/or structural damage should be removed and replaced. Light rust and corrosion can be repaired with a wire brush and application of a rust inhibitor. Minor openings such as small holes can be covered with metal plates or overlay of a metal deck panel that is fastened to the existing metal deck panel.”

It’s not only workers on the roof that have to follow proper safety procedures. Everyone in the building below has to take precautions. “When decking is being removed or replaced, there can’t any workers below the area,” says D’Annunzio. “We’ve had instances in automotive projects where deck has had to be replaced, and the work has to be done during off-shift hours, whether it’s a night or a weekend.”

Identifying the Existing Deck

If the type of deck used isn’t available in the construction documents, the type, gauge and finish of the deck must be determined at the site.

The type of deck is based on the profile, which is designated by a letter. The most common types are A, B and F. (See Figure 1.) “The changes are in the shape, and the shape creates a different design strength,” notes Polizzi. “A-22 is not the same strength as B-22.”

Each profile has its own distinct measurements. “We give out a laminated profile card to all of our customers to keep in their trucks, so when they are out on the job, they can do a couple measurements to determine the profile,” Polizzi says. “It’s nice if they can measure both the bottom and the top, as we have measurements for both. If they aren’t sure, we can send them a sample, and they can take it out to the job and lay it into what they’ve got on site.”

According to Weiss, the simplest way to identify the type of deck on an existing building is to measure the gaps in the ribs on the profile. (See Figure 2.) “Check the top rib opening located between the top high hats or flanges of the deck,” Weiss recommends. “This dimension will quickly determine the type. Most of the time, the top rib opening is 2.5 inches, 1.75 inches or 1 inch, so you’re typically dealing with B deck, F deck or A deck — or it’s 3-inch-tall deck, and that’s usually N deck. However, the top rib isn’t always exposed until after a project has begun. In this case, the deck can be identified by the bottom width of the high hat.”

There are a few caveats, notes Weiss, as in some cases the deck might be from an older mill that doesn’t exist anymore. Texting pictures back and forth can help identify the type of deck.

The next steps are to determine the gauge and finish. “The easiest way to determine the gauge is by using a micrometer,” notes Weiss. “However, if you’re unable to obtain this measurement, a knowledgeable deck supplier should be able to recommend a gauge by understand the spacing supports and project requirements.”

The finish is usually determined based on visual inspection. The three most common finishes for roof decks are:

  1. Primer painted
  2. Galvanized G-60
  3. Galvanized G-90

“With no harsh environments, then painted deck is probably what’s used,” says Polizzi. “In wetter, harsher, more corrosive environments, galvanized finishes are more common. In very corrosive environments, stainless steel decking is used.”

The deck should be inspected for damage and corrosion throughout the course of the project. Photo: O’Donnell Metal Deck

B deck is the most common. “B deck, 22-gauge, with a galvanized finish is probably the most common type,” Weiss notes. “B-22, G-60 finish constitutes probably 70 percent of the roofing jobs we do.”

If the type of deck can’t be matched, suppliers can often recommend a compatible alternate. “Typically, when roofers are replacing a portion of an existing structure, the key is identifying the correct deck type to allow the new deck to lay into the existing flutes of the deck,” says Weiss. “This makes for faster install.”

B deck has the widest rib openings. F deck will nest inside B deck, and A deck will nest inside F and B. “They are all 6-inch centers; the difference is just in the width of the opening,” notes Polizzi. “The A deck is narrow, so it will fit on top of B, but if you try to put B on top of A, it will not work.”

“That’s why you still need these older roof profiles, because on a huge building with those narrow ribs, the 2.5-inch flute is not going to jam down into an inch,” says Weiss. “You can always take an F deck or an A deck and use it on a job with B deck because it nests in there.”

Removal and Replacement

By definition, deck panels are fastened to structural members, and this is crucial in determining the methods of removal and replacement — and determining the number and size of sheets needed for the project. “If it’s a new piece of decking, it has to be secured to a structural connection,” says D’Annunzio. “It should go from structural point to structural point. When covering major openings like skylight holes, for example, the replacement panel must span from joist to joist, and typically is nested in the existing deck.”

It’s critical to ensure the deck beneath a new roof system is sound and will perform well beyond the expected life span of the system. Photo: A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply

During the removal process, the safety plan must remain the top priority. “Ensure proper training and safety equipment is used on the roof and inside the building,” Horwath says. “Make sure the interior inspection limits the impact on the customer’s business. Clear out areas below the roof, make sure there is adequate material storage on the jobsite, and protect objects from damage. Keep the below area flagged off and keep people out of the area. The contractor should keep a fire watch to keep employees and people out the way. Remove and replace decking in full sheets. Remove and replace the roof and make it watertight by end of day.”

When installing new decking in a roof replacement project, the vast majority of the time fasteners are used, as often welding is not allowed. “CentiMark does not weld anything,” says Horwath. “We fasten everything down per Steel Deck Institute (SDI) standards or FM. We require our guys to be tied off until all of the decking is fastened down. With the stitch seams, they should be tied off while putting that together because it helps strengthen the seam joints. They should be tied off for the entire process until it is anchored and secured down.”

Fastening the side laps of deck together is typically done with a standard #10 self-tapping screw, according to Weiss. Fastening to beams or joist will depend on the project. A fastening pattern will determine the number and spacing of the fasteners to a support. The Engineer of Record (EOR) determines the fastening pattern based on the designed load calculations for building. “A fastener supplier can help guide you for qualified fasteners based on your needs,” Weiss notes.

If the profile cannot be matched or the decking won’t nest, it may be necessary to cut out the portion of deck to be replaced and butt the end of the new profile against the existing deck at the joist. When different types of deck are butted together, the gap is usually covered with a metal plate.

Common Mistakes

D’Annunzio pointed to roof details and penetrations as common problem spots. “The biggest areas of concern I see involve larger penetrations, such as a curb that’s 4 feet by 4 feet,” he says. “Contractors who replace the decking around the curb at an opening for an exhaust vent, for example, have to make sure it’s fastened correctly. If the deck is not properly fastened at the curb, it could lead to vibration, splits or openings in the roof system.”

Extreme care has to be used when removing old sections of decking, notes Horwath. “Be careful to watch out for electrical conduit and data lines,” he cautions. “No one wants to cut through conduit underneath the decking.”

Other common errors include underestimating the size and scope of the deck repair. D’Annunzio and Horwath recommend specifying the cost for deck replacement in every contract, even if the decking looks perfect. But estimating the amount of new deck material needed can be difficult, as total square footage is not the only concern. “It’s all about knowing what the bar joists spans are, and that determines the size of the panels you get,” Horwath points out.

Depending on the width of the building and the dimensions of the deck sheets, contractors might have to order an extra sheet to cover a given area. Weiss uses this example: “Let’s pretend you have a building that’s 76 feet wide. Sheets are 3 feet wide. Because it’s 76 feet wide, with 25 sheets, you still have an extra foot hanging off. So, what do you do with that extra foot? Technically you need an extra sheet, and you back lap that sheet.”

The spacing of supports and the cover width of the decking sheets are also critical, notes Weiss. “Knowing the spacing of the joist will allow a deck supplier to maximize your coverage while limiting waste from excessive overlap and save time by limiting field cuts,” he says.

Planning Ahead

Metal deck suppliers keep multiple profiles, gauges, finishes and lengths in stock at all times to help contractors. That’s a key part of their value proposition. But Polizzi and Weiss also emphasize that they are also available to help contractors plan ahead to maximize efficiency. After all, there could be lead times involved with some products. “Partnering with a knowledgeable deck supplier will save you time, money and frustration,” Weiss says. “We will aid you in the process by asking the right questions upfront to ensure a project’s success.”

Polizzi notes that some of his customers maintain their own stock of B deck. “Some roofers themselves will buy a couple of bundles from us so that when they do have an emergency or a tear-off, they can start to pull out of their own inventory,” Polizzi says. “They don’t have to keep a lot; they just have to keep enough to get going, and we’ll take care of the rest of the job.”

“It’s all about having it on hand and available and getting it to the contractor when they need it,” says Weiss. “But the more lead time they have, the better off the contractor really is. When projects become larger and/or supports are not typical or complicated, a specialty deck supplier should be able to provide shop drawings to include a deck layout to save time and minimize material waste.”

“In the past, roofers used to avoid anything to do with metal deck replacement because they often couldn’t get what they wanted,” notes Polizzi. “Today, we have helped these roofers create a new profit center because they know now they can go after that work and they can count on us to be there for them when they open up a roof.”

Replacing the deck can mean more profit for the contractor, but it can also adversely affect the schedule. According to D’Annunzio, when it comes to the deck, the key is to think long-term. “You have to go with the assumption that the roof you’re installing will last at least 20 years, and these days it can be much longer than that, with re-covers and maintenance,” he notes. “So, chances are you’re not going to see that deck again for more than 20 years. If it’s suspect, it’s better to deal with it while you are doing the remedial work.”

“We’ve been called in to examine projects with a roof that’s just a few years old where the deck below should have been replaced beneath the roof system, and it wasn’t,” D’Annunzio continues. “You can imagine the difficulty of replacing the deck at that point. When it comes to metal deck, my attitude is, ‘When in doubt, take it out.’”

Metal Deck Resources

For more information about metal decks, visit:

Steel Deck Institute, www.sdi.org

NRCA, www.nrca.net

SMACNA, www.smacna.org

Factory Mutual, www.fmglobal.com

A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply, www.metaldecksupply.com

O’Donnell Metal Deck, www.odonnellmetaldeck.com

Nailing Down Talent: How To Successfully Hire Workers

Finding skilled workers is becoming more and more problematic for many roofing contractors. According to the 2019 Construction Outlook Survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), more than three-quarters of respondents expected to hire more staff in 2019. However, 78 percent reported difficulties filling salaried and hourly craft positions and 42 percent believe that hiring personnel over the next year will continue to be hard.

The current labor shortage is drastically reducing the number of potential prospects. In the third-quarter 2019 Commercial Construction Index report from USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 61 percent of contractors said they’re struggling to find skilled workers. That number is up from 54 percent in the previous quarter, indicating the problem shows no signs of improvement.

The effect of the workforce shortage impacts your day-to-day operations through higher costs, longer completion times and higher bid prices. So how can you attract, hire and keep qualified workers in the current state of the industry? Consider these tips:

Market and Recruit

A well-written job listing will help attract the best employees. Talk directly to the type of person you want to hire, list the qualifications you seek, and explain what’s important to your business.

When writing the job description, be specific about the type of work your roofing business does so you can attract people who are skilled and comfortable in those areas. And if you’re willing to teach someone the necessary skills, be sure to mention that too.

Jim Johnson, head coach for ContractorCoachPRO, advises taking your listing a step further by creating a recruiting platform and making it part of your website.

“Have multiple job postings for everything you’re hiring for,” he says. “Include some videos with employee testimonials, your company culture and what you’re all about. And then market it. Market that website. Market it on Google, market it on social media, market it, market it, market it.”

“Really, truthfully, you’re a sales organization, you’re a marketing organization, you’re a contractor — you’re all those things,” he continues. “But in the big scheme of things, you’re a recruiting company. If you change your perspective that way and recruit great talent, all the rest is going to be easy. You’ll change the whole [methodology] of what you do as a contractor.”

Johnson says you should always be looking for talent as you’re walking around every single day — anytime, everywhere.

Look For Specific Characteristics

A good roofing employee should be able to do more than hammer nails and carry bundles of shingles. He or she should also have characteristics that can help your company stand out from the competition, including:

· Fast learner — You can train someone to carry out specific skills, but you can’t teach that person to be a better learner. New employees — even those with experience — should be willing to learn and adapt to the way you do business.

Tip: Ask potential workers about the most recent thing they’ve learned and have them explain how they learned it. Or have them explain some of the differences in the way previous employers did things and how they adapted to those expectations.

· Tech-savvy — Many roofing businesses use construction apps on the job. Your crew members should be able to pick up these new technologies.

Tip: Ask applicants what roofing apps they like and which features they find most useful.

· Professional – Employees need to put customers at ease. If someone isn’t courteous and professional on the job, he or she could cost you referrals and reap bad reviews. Your crew represents you and your brand. Hire roofers you can trust to leave a good impression on homeowners.

Tip: Ask candidates why they left their last job. They should avoid speaking negatively about their employer or co-workers. Or ask how they would respond if a customer was rude to them.

· Safety conscious — Roofing has one of the highest fatality rates of all industries. One person’s disregard for proper safety could put your whole crew at risk. Ask potential candidates plenty of questions to see how well they know best practices and only hire those who take safety seriously.

Tip: Have interviewees explain the precautions they take while on a jobsite or what they would do if a co-worker was acting in an unsafe manner.

· Positive attitude — Roofing is already hard work, so you don’t need a negative employee adding to the everyday stress. Antagonistic people can quickly crush crew morale, which could result in sloppy work, unprofessional behavior or even high turnover. Hire someone who can go with the flow and be a positive influence on fellow workers.

Tip: Listen. Did possible hires answer previous questions to your satisfaction? Did they seem professional and eager to work and learn your way of doing things? Overall, trust your gut. You’ll know who will fit in best with the rest of your crew.

Johnson cautions that you should never hire someone during an interview.

“Resumes — I personally think they’re garbage,” he explains. “They’re usually inaccurate and embellished. They’re very time consuming for me to get through and great candidates can be missed. The best salesperson I ever hired in my entire life was a Pizza Hut delivery guy. The guy sold $6.3 million in residential sales in 2017. He’s been in it for 19 years now. So, great candidates can be missed by just relying on resumes.”

Be Competitive

Once you’ve found the right person, you want him or her to accept the job. Salary is an important factor, of course. What are your competitors paying? Find out and, if you can, match or beat it.

Money isn’t everything, though. Most people also want a sense of job security. Explain why your company has a good reputation and how it can offer stability.

Talk about other things that make your company attractive, such as taking on unique projects, participating in philanthropic opportunities, or having an excellent benefits package.

And after you hire someone, do things that will make him or her want to stay. “No one does anything without incentive,” Johnson says. “And incentive is not necessarily money. Incentive can be a lot of different things. It can be a reward — a gift card, a trophy, all kinds of stuff. Or it could be plain old recognition.”

These types of incentives will remind employees that they’re valued and respected members of your team, which in turn increases their level of commitment and builds loyalty.

Help Educate Potential Hires About the Trades

As a contractor, you know the financial, leadership, and entrepreneurial benefits of working in the roofing industry.

Volunteer for speaking opportunities at local high schools to educate students about the value of pursuing a career in the field. Or participate in a trade show, such as the CareerExpo and SkillsUSA Championships hosted by the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA), which allows you to meet students interested in trade careers.

Some high schools and community colleges have apprenticeship or co-op work opportunities as part of their vocational training programs. Getting involved with these institutions gives you access to people who want to work in a trade and allows you to offer them real-world experience, which could result in a position with your company.

As budget cuts continue to reduce the size of the U.S. military, veterans must transition to civilian jobs. What these motivated men and women lack in roofing experience, they make up for with other valuable qualities, including trainability, discipline, reliability, and leadership skills. Many national organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, have programs that help vets get the training and experience they need for their next career.

Invest in Your People

Countless surveys show that workers leave a job because they’re unhappy and don’t feel appreciated. To help with employee retention, invest in your people by providing continuous training.

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) offers a wealth of training opportunities. Through the organization’s ProCertification program, workers who demonstrate substantial knowledge and skills can earn certifications in specific roof system installations.

“In the past, a roofing company would go to a job fair in their local community and try to present a career in the industry as one that’s truly professional,” explains Reid Ribble, CEO of the NRCA. “However, there was no way for [a trade worker] to become a master roofer. They could become a master plumber, master electrician or master carpenter, but there was really no professional certification for them to reach that same status in the roofing industry.”

By the end of 2019, the NRCA’s ProCertification program will have certifications available in six disciplines. Eventually, it will offer a total of 18.

“If roofing workers stack enough of these certifications on top of each other, they can achieve master status, as a master low-slope roofer, master steep-slope roofer, master service technician, or master solar technician,” Ribble says. “That’s a powerful tool that we didn’t have before to recruit workers. It’s a long-term, transformational shift away from making the roofing companies the primary to making the working roofer the primary. And that’s a big shift, but it’s the one that actually provides the quality assurance that customers need.”

The NRCA is taking stepsto get the ProCertification program recognized nationally. However, Ribble cautions that this push will not affect the licensing of roofing companies.

“We believe that, as a national association, it’s up to our state affiliates to make the determination locally as to whether or not they want a licensing program,” he says. “Some states do, other states do not. Some of our members do, other members do not. We don’t want to have a restrictive approach to people entering the roofing trade. But what we can do is create standards for roofing workers. Because, let’s face it, putting on an asphalt shingle roof in Georgia is no different than putting an asphalt shingle roof on in Wisconsin. You might treat the underlayment at the eaves different because of snow and ice, but for the most part, that roof goes on the same.”

The Bottom Line

Hiring workers is one challenge. Keeping them is another. So, while following one or more of these tips can help you build your business, you must also create an environment where your employees feel valued. After all, they determine the success of your jobs, which means your company’s reputation is only as good as the people you hire.

As Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup, once put it, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”

About the author: Tiara Searcy is the content and digital marketing manager for Atlas Roofing. For more information, visit www.atlasroofing.com.

Bringing on Large Clients Can Result in Big Problems

So many salespeople and small business owners strive to hook the big fish — the large client. There’s a belief that these are the best customers and that there is validity and credibility attached to being able to say you’ve won those accounts.

I see it a little differently. When I think about hooking the big fish I think about long sales cycles, low quotes with tight margins, and diversion of attention. Let’s take a look at each.

1. Long Sales Cycles

Large clients often make decisions slowly. They have more people involved in the decision-making process and they have more priorities. I’ve seen a lot of salespeople struggle with the inability to move a sale forward. The reality is that larger clients have so many priorities that they may not feel any urgency for what you have to sell. Competing priorities go on all day, every day inside large companies. We can’t expect them to maintain interest in our product or service just because we’ve had a meeting with them. We have to continue to be persistent and patient — all at the same time.

Because these sales cycles are longer we have to also make sure we are pursuing smaller clients at the same time. We have to make sales and bring clients in while we continue to troll for the big catch. It can be challenging to juggle all of that activity. A lot of salespeople have a tendency to tread water while waiting for the big fish to bite. It’s pretty tough to make your quota or your sales goals that way.

2. Low Quotes With Tight Margins

Large companies are accustomed to negotiating price — in their favor. If we aren’t careful we’ll end up pricing too low to make the account worthwhile. We have to seriously consider the ROI of winning the big account. If the price is too low and the margins too tight, we’ll find it tough to grow. We need healthy margins to have money to invest in our business. And to be there for the unexpected.

Moreover, large clients typically aren’t loyal. They consistently shop their vendors to make sure they are getting the best for the lowest cost. What would happen to your company if your big fish left for a cheaper alternative? All that revenue gone. All that time spent working for them instead of building a client base. Dangerous. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. A company focuses on getting a large account, does all of the work to onboard them, allots resources to manage the account, and has very little left over for anything else. Then one day the client leaves. That company is now in danger of going under. They are suddenly top-heavy with expenses and devoid of revenues.

Once again it can seem like a major win to land that big fish. However, what may seem like a coup can turn into a nightmare if the revenue isn’t worth the effort. Consider the alternative. Instead of seeking large clients, what if you pursued and gained a significant number of small and medium-size customers? The margins would probably be relatively good, the relationship would probably be good, and the loyalty would most likely be there. If by chance a customer left it wouldn’t derail your company. The loss would be easy to absorb until you could replace it. And it wouldn’t be so difficult to replace.

3. Diversion of Attention

Large clients require and demand a lot of attention. We tend to favor them and understand that we have to consistently nurture them. These clients expect to be taken care of. They expect the VIP treatment. And because we were so focused on getting the business we fall into the same belief system once we’ve snagged them. We have to give them a lot of attention in order to keep them.

So, we commit resources to them. These are resources we could be using to bring in more medium and small clients. We could be building a foundation of loyal, well priced, evenly handled clients. We could be growing, and committing our resources in ways that would benefit our company more than having that big fish.

In addition, needing to assign a lot of resources to a large customer means that there is the possibility your other customers will receive less than stellar service. Now you run the risk of losing your other customers — the foundation or cushion — because they are being ignored.

Step back and consider what you want for your company. I’m imagining its healthy growth with loyal clients who respect and appreciate what you do for them; it’s reasonable margins and a deep bench of clients. If that’s the goal, and I hope it is, you should focus on adding a significant number of medium-size clients. Let someone else grapple with the behemoth. It may sound like success to hook the big fish. In reality, success is serving many clients and having the time and money to continue to serve them all well.

About the author: Diane Helbig is a leadership and business development advisor helping business owners around the world. She is the author of Lemonade Stand Selling, Expert Insights, and Succeed Without ‘Selling,’ as well as the host of the “Accelerate Your Business Growth” podcast. For more information, visit www.seizethisday.co.

Coated Glass Facers Bring New Performance Advantages to Polyiso Insulation

Photos: Owens Corning

Rigid polyisocyanurate (polyiso) insulation board is one of the most widely-used insulation products on the market today and is manufactured in various forms for use in wall, roof, and other building construction applications. The different types, classes, and grades of polyiso insulation board are defined by the classification system in ASTM C1289 “Standard Specification for Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation Board” and may be classified by the type of facer or facing material used to manufacture the products.

Polyiso is a thermoset, closed-cell, rigid foam plastic insulation that is manufactured in board form (typically 4-foot-by-4-foot or 4-foot-by-8-foot sizes). Through a continuous lamination process, liquid raw materials that make up the foam formulation are mixed and in a rapid chemical reaction form a rigid and thermally stable polymeric structure. During manufacture, the facers or facing materials enable the manufacturing process by containing the viscous foam mixture as it is poured and cured into the rigid polyiso core.

After manufacture, facers or facing materials perform a number of key functions for the installation and use of polyiso products. At the jobsite, the specific type of facer or facing material can determine the insulation product’s compatibility with various substrates, which is an important consideration where installed as part of an adhered roof system. Once installed in a roof system, the facer or facing material can influence water absorption and water vapor transmission, which can be important characteristics in building envelope applications. In wall applications, polyiso may be used as a drainage plane to shed bulk water and with taped joints between adjacent boards can form both effective water resistive barrier and air barrier component. Facer or facing materials can positively contribute to the fire performance of the product and assembly, reduce air movement through the system, or provide for radiative properties. Finally, it should be noted that the same facer material is typically used on both sides of the polyiso board; however, different facer types may be used to meet specific project design and performance needs.

Facer Types

The three most common types of polyiso facers are aluminum foil, glass fiber reinforced cellulosic felt, and coated polymer-bonded glass fiber mat. The ASTM C1289 Standard contains classifications and descriptions for each facer type:

  • Aluminum Foil Facer (FF) is composed of aluminum foil that may be plain, coated and/or laminated to a supporting substrate.
  • Glass Fiber Reinforced Cellulosic Felt Facer (GRF) is composed of a cellulosic fiber felt containing glass fibers.
  • Coated Polymer-Bonded Glass Fiber Mat Facer (CGF) is composed of a fibrous glass mat bonded with organic polymer binders and coated with organic polymer, clay, or other inorganic substances.

Polyiso products as shown in Table 1 may also be manufactured with other facer types or facing materials such as uncoated polymer-bonded glass fiber mat (AGF), perlite insulation board, cellulosic fiber insulation, oriented strand board (OSB), plywood, and glass mat faced gypsum board. Depending on the particular project requirements, a certain facer type may offer specific benefits and the most attractive option for that application.

Coated Polymer-Bonded Glass Fiber Mat Facer

Coated polymer-bonded glass fiber mat facer (coated glass facer or CGF) is used in polyiso insulation products installed as part the building enclosure, including roof insulation, high-density cover board, and wall insulation products. Coated glass facers consist of multi-layer construction and a coating to impart a versatile weather resistant outer layer. CGF facers offer dimensional stability and resistance to water absorption. The glass fibers in the mat provide tensile strength and moisture resistance characteristics, making the mats an ideal solution for other product applications that require high levels of performance link flooring products, underlayments, asphalt shingles, roof membranes, ceiling tile, and other construction products (i.e., glass reinforced panels and industrial applications).

The CGF Manufacturing Process

For polyiso products, the CGF consists of a non-woven glass fiber mat as the substrate. The glass fibers that make up the mat are formed when minerals are batched together, melted in a large furnace, and extruded into strands through fine orifices in bushing plates. The fibers are mechanically drawn, cooled, and treated to impart the required handling and physical properties for the desired performance.

For non-woven applications, the fibers are chopped to the required length and sent to the mat forming line. The non-woven glass fiber mats (typically produced by a wet laid process on an inclined wire former) are impregnated with a synthetic water-based binder such as acrylic, urea formaldehyde, or renewable organic binders. The impregnated web is dried and cured in a direct gas-heated belt dryer. To produce the final coated glass facer, the rolled mat is coated with a mineral-filled latex coating to seal the mat. The coated mat is rewound and packaged according to individual product and customer specifications. After inspection, the mats are slit and wound in-line on cardboard cores in a turret winder.

The rolls of CGF are delivered to polyiso manufacturers where they are loaded into laminators to become the top and/or bottom facers of the finished polyiso insulation boards.

CGF and Polyiso Performance Benefits

Coated glass facers do more than hold the polyiso together as it cures; they add certain performance characteristics that can enhance the effectiveness of the final polyiso product. CGF as a material is noted for offering the following benefits for polyiso insulation:

  • Mold resistance
  • Enhanced fire performance
  • Excellent strength and durability
  • High moisture resistance
  • Excellent dimensional stability
  • Resistance to delamination
  • A reduction in knit line appearance

Since every type of polyiso product has its unique advantages and uses, choosing the right facer for the right application can have long-term impacts on the entire system’s performance and resilience. For example, some moisture is always present in our environment. CGF can provide added resistance to moisture absorption for polyiso products and help improve the performance and durability of the overall roof system.

Polyiso insulation products offer:

  • A high R-value per inch compared to other insulation products.
  • A certified LTTR value (roofing products).
  • The performance to meet today’s code required R-values while minimizing assembly thickness, and material and labor requirements.
  • Excellent performance in fire tests.
  • Ease of use and peace of mind, as polyiso products are designed for use in an expansive assortment of tested, approved, and code-compliant assemblies.
  • As a thermoset plastic, stability over a large temperature range (-100°F to +250°F) and can be used as a component in roof systems utilizing hot asphalt.
  • Versatility as a multi-attribute weather barrier product.
  • A continuous insulation solution to minimize heat loss through thermal bridges.

In summary, the combination of polyiso insulation and coated glass facers provide building owners and contractors with a solution that can meet thermal, moisture, and durability considerations. A wide variety of CGF polyiso products are available for specific applications in roofing or wall construction. Consult with a polyiso manufacturer for guidance on design and technical information for various insulation systems. Further information can be found at www.polyiso.org, the website of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), along with updated Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), and technical bulletins for polyiso applications.

About the author: Marcin Pazera, Ph.D., is the Technical Director for Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). Dr. Pazera coordinates all technical-related activities at PIMA and serves as the primary technical liaison to organizations involved in the development of building standards. He holds a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Syracuse University and, over the course of his career, has worked in building science with a focus on evaluating energy and moisture performance of building materials and building enclosure systems. He has expertise in building enclosure and product manufacturing encompassed-research, testing, product conception and development, and computer modeling/analysis.

Designing Roof Drains to Survive and Perform in Severe Storms

A well-designed and well-installed roof drain should not allow water to pond at the clamping ring and should be secured to the roof deck structure. Images: Hutchinson Design Group LTD.

The storms have become repetitive and the damage to infrastructure, buildings and life safety has reached historic proportions. From these catastrophes has arisen the concept of resiliency. If you haven’t heard of this movement, you’re not in sync with the current governmental building mindset. Sustainability is virtually passé; it was almost 25 years ago my co-chair Keith Roberts, Roberts Consulting, Abingdon, England, and I headed a group of international experts in roofing, under the auspices of CIB on the topic of “Sustainable Low Slope Roofs.” The resulting report included the “Tenets of Sustainable Low Slope Roofing,” and it is still available on the CIB website, www.cibworld.nl.

CIB determined several years ago that sustainability was no longer the crucial goal of the built environment: Why? Because the building industry was so good in educating clients in regards that sustainability is no longer a goal to be discussed but is a client assumption to be provided.

So, what is this resiliency?

In regard to roofing, the essence of resiliency is to design a roof that can weather the storm(s) with minimal damage and be quickly repaired so that the building in question can be operational.

A resilient roof design is not one designed to membrane manufacturers’ minimal standards and installed to current practice. A resilient roof cannot be summed up in a prescriptive specification.

A resilient roof design is:

  • Supported by the client.
  • One designed by a competent person, knowledgeable about the effects storms have on buildings.
  • One in which all the conditions on the roof are specifically detailed to the project. (OMG: Architects, engineers and consultants — you will actually have to understand construction and do what you’re being paid to do.)
  • A team effort involving the owner, designer, contractor and material suppliers.

There has been a great deal written about sustainability, and many of my colleagues are still confused as to what it all means. I don’t want the concept of resiliency to suffer the same fate. Thus, I would like to bring to you my ideas of how resilient detailing may look.

Over the next several articles, I will review how I detail for resilient roof systems in the hope that it may assist your understanding of what resiliency is and how you might design and detail for it.

The Roof Drain

It is amazing how many roof drains are pulled up and out of the roof deck when the membrane becomes loose in a storm. I guess with the drain gone it leaves a nice large drain. The challenge is I have some clients with hundreds of millions of dollars in product or equipment in the building below, where water is not appreciated. So, the first resilient detail I have chosen to explore is theroof drain.

The roof drain detail for new construction requires coordination with the structural engineer who will be specifying the roof deck and structural framing around the drain. Getting the engineer to place it in the low spot is a discussion for another day. This coordination is also required with the plumbing engineer so that the correct drain system and components are specified. Hint: I tell the plumbing engineer what to specify, give them the detail and provide specification information. It’s just so much easier than to try and get them to change it later. (We will discuss the 12-inch roof curb specification in a later article. Can’t the manufacturers just eliminate the 12-inch roof curb?)

Part of the coordination, and maybe the most difficult, is getting the structural engineer not to specify the drain sump that was for level decks with built-up roofs; we haven’t used these in 30 years. The other half of that is the plumbing engineer needs to specify the sump pan as part of the drain system. Now you see why I provide the spec.

Once this is all coordinated and you’ve spent the weekend exhausted and drank to excess, you’re ready to detail — the fun part.

The sump pan provided by the drain manufacturer allows the drain flange to set in the same pan as the top if the roof deck. This sump pan should be screw fastened, anchored to the deck. For steel decks I suggest a pan head self-tapping screw into each flute and 6-inch O.C. parallel to the flutes.

Securing the Drain to the Structure

After the sump pan is set, the roof drain can be set and secured in place. To do that, an underdeck clamp should be used. Typically, the roof drain has threaded receivers to which the under-deck clamp can be bolted and clamped to the sump pan receiver. But in a blow-off you would be relying on those pan head screws into the steel deck to prevent uplift. Sometimes that will be enough, sometimes not. To guarantee that the roof drain stays in place, 1-5/8-inch Unistrut should be extended from steel angle framing to steel angle framing that the structural engineer has designed. The under-deck clamp should then be placed on the underside of the Unistrut and bolted to the drain. You now have the roof drain compressed to the steel roof deck and the building’s structure. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The goal of a resilient roof drain is to prevent water damage in high-wind events. While an underdeck clamp should always be specified, to enhance the roof drain securement steel braces should be installed from deck framing angle to deck framing angle and the clamping ring placed below that to clamp the roof drain down and prevent disengagement with the drain pipe.

Roof-to-Drain Detailing

With assurance that the roof drain will remain in place during a major storm event, the roofing can now be detailed. The vapor retarder, which will act as a temporary roof in the event of a roof blow-off, needs to be specifically detailed to extend over the roof drain flange and then be secured in place with the reversible collar that will hold the extension ring. The vapor retarder should be adhered to the drain flange prior to the installation of the reversible collar which is bolted to the roof drain bowl.

With increased insulation values, an extension ring is required; this is basically 5 inches in Chicago. I highly recommend that a threaded extension ring be used: it offers easy adjustment and positive engagement with the revisable collar. The insulation should be cut and brought into the roof drain. All voids should be filled with spray foam insulation and trimmed flush. We specify a fire seal on the underside as well.

The roofing membrane should be set over the roof extension drain flange in a full tube of water block and the clamping ring set and bolted to the roof drain. The membrane should right then and there be trimmed back to within 1/2 inch of the clamping ring. Don’t wait to do this later or cut a hole the exact diameter of the drainpipe. Failure to trim the membrane back to within 1/2 inch of the clamping ring prevents that drain from properly functioning, and in a roof collapse situation, I will be hunting you down.

Coping With Severe Damage

Many buildings sustain wind damage associated with heavy rains. When the membrane is blown off the substrate and the drain is high, buildings can experience high levels of water damage. As shown in Figure 1 and as typically is installed, the roof drain is above the roof deck surface. Thus, for resilient roof systems, a roof drain should be installed at the level of the vapor retarder to drain the roof should the membrane be compromised. (See Figure 2.)

This is accomplished by inserting a baffle in the drain downspout that will prevent air vapor from moving into the roof system or water backup. The drain is hidden, ready for use in an emergency.

You’re now started on your resilient roof system design.

Author’s note: Thanks to John Ryan of DeFranco Plumbing in Palatine, Illinois, who has shared his decades of knowledge with me to assist in the detailing of roof drains systems.

About the author: Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, CSI, Fellow-IIBEC, RRC, is a principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd. in Barrington, Illinois. For more information, visit www.hutchinsondesigngroup.com.

New Test Protocol Provides Deeper Insight Into Performance of IR Shingles Against Hail

Hail impact testing takes place at the IBHS Research Center in Richburg, South Carolina. Manufactured hailstones are launched using a hail cannon designed to create an impact with the same kinetic energy as naturally occurring hail. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Consumers deserve to have confidence that shingles labeled as impact resistant live up to their resilient expectations. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has dedicated years to collecting data and identifying unprecedented insights into the performance of impact resistant-labeled shingles.

IBHS is a non-profit, scientific research organization funded by the property insurance industry as a tangible demonstration of its commitment to resilience. Charged with advancing building science, influencing residential and commercial construction and creating more resilient communities, IBHS recreates real-world severe weather conditions to test buildings and building components, including asphalt shingles.

Background

Hail poses a threat to roofs across the country. It routinely causes more than $10 billion in insured losses each year according to a 2017 WillisRe study, and those losses have been growing. Yet, hail is not well accounted for in typical construction processes because hail-resistant products are not typically required by building codes.

There are three impact modes possible when hailstones hit shingles. Hailstones can bounce off the shingle cleanly, shatter into many pieces, or turn to slush leaving a residue behind on the shingle.

Impact-resistant (IR) asphalt shingles are marketed to consumers to perform better in hailstorms. Currently, those products are tested according to Underwriter’s Lab UL 2218 test or FM Approvals FM 4473 test, which use steel balls and pure water ice balls, respectively. They are based on diameter to kinetic energy relationships from the 1930s, and both tests launch projectiles at the roofing products and assume the damage severity is directly tied to the kinetic energy of the projectile. These tests evaluate products on a pass or fail basis using human evaluation to judge whether a crack has occurred, and in the case of the UL test, the damage is viewed from the backside — the side of a shingle a homeowner, roofer or insurance adjuster can’t see. Neither test, however, accurately replicates both the type and severity of damage found on rooftops after hailstorms.

Missing in the development of these test standards was an understanding of the material properties of natural hail. Historical studies had quantitative data on mass, diameter, and density, but qualitatively described the strength or hardness of hailstones. There were no quantitative hailstone strength data from which to base a laboratory test.

Filling a Knowledge Gap

IBHS began laying the foundation for what would become the IBHS Impact Resistance Test Protocol for Asphalt Shingles by collecting quantitative data on hailstone properties to expand understanding of the phenomenon itself in 2012. Researchers in the field have followed severe thunderstorms and collected hailstones to measure their mass, diameters, and strength. These data provided a deeper understanding of the kinetic energy with which hailstones fall, their mass to diameter relationship, and the strength of the hail itself.

IBHS partnered with Accudyne Inc to design the hail machine to manufacture hailstones in the laboratory to mimic the properties of natural hailstones.

After collecting thousands of data points, IBHS was able to fill the gap in the fundamental properties of hail that would affect damage. The data revealed that natural hail is slightly stronger than pure ice and current test methods overestimate the mass, fall speed and impact energy of hail. This was a significant breakthrough in hail science.

Recreating Hail in the Lab

Armed with these new insights, IBHS researchers could begin to replicate the properties of natural hail and achieve the right impact energies in the laboratory to develop a new test for impact resistance that would produce damage representative of natural hailstorms. Seltzer water was initially used to create the density observed in natural hail. Later, IBHS and Accudyne Systems Inc. developed and patented a hail machine to mass-produce manufactured hailstones for testing. The hail machine allows researchers to configure the density and strength of hailstones to mimic the variety that occurs in natural hail.

Figure 1. Hail causes three distinct types of damage to shingles. Hail can deform a shingle with dents, dislodge the protective granules on the surface of the shingle, and cause cracks or tears that breach the material.

Variations in strength and density led to the identification of three impact modes, or types of impacts, that occur when manufactured hailstones are launched at asphalt shingles. The hailstones may result in a “hard bounce” off the shingle remaining nearly intact, a “hard shatter” with the hailstone fracturing into numerous small pieces leaving no ice residue behind, or a “soft” impact where the hailstone turns to “slush” on the surface of the shingle.

The hard impacts typically caused granule loss and deformed the shingles, leaving dents and creating breaches. The soft, slushy impacts produced a larger area of granule loss, but left less noticeable deformations. These damages are reflective of damages observed on real roofs after hailstorms and may diminish a shingle’s water-shedding capabilities. Deformations to shingles can allow water to penetrate and get into the roof, which may damage the interior of a home. Loss of granules on shingles exposes the asphalt to UV radiation, which can cause them to become more brittle and prone to further damage and shorten the service life of the roof.

The Test Protocol

The IBHS Impact Resistance Test Protocol for Asphalt Shingles uses a hail cannon to launch 1.5- and 2-inch manufactured hailstones at roofing test panels. Unlike existing test methods, IBHS requires the shingles be purchased from distribution channels as a roofer or contractor would purchase the product.

Figure 2. An example of the Roof Shingle Hail Impact Ratings chart found ibhs.org. Each product recieves an overall rating in addition to a rating by damage type ranging from excellent to poor performance.

The test panel follows the UL 2218 method with a 3-foot by 3-foot frame with a middle structural member to simulate the presence of a roof truss. The panel has a plywood roof deck and underlayment. Shingles are installed according to each manufacturer’s instructions. Impacts are focused on the main portion of the shingles avoiding edges, joints, corners, the outer frame and the middle structural member.

When testing three-tab shingles, 20 impacts per hailstone size are required. When testing architectural shingles, 40 impacts per size are required — 20 on the single layer portion of the product and 20 on the multiple layer portion of the product. For each hailstone size, an equal number of hard and soft impacts are required. However, some variation is allowed between hard shatter and hard bounce.

Damage Assessment and Ratings

As part of the new test protocol, IBHS needed an objective tool to assess damages and improve upon the human judged pass/fail ratings of the existing test methods. IBHS partnered with Nemesis Inc. to create a cloud computing tool to measure the volume of deformations and the area of granule loss. The application runs on a computer or mobile device and uses at least 13 photos to generate gridded 3D data of the impacts. The 3D mesh allows the application to precisely measure deformations, including both the depth of dents and the height of the ridge surrounding each dent, as well as granule loss individually and in patches. The quantitative data allows for the severity of the damage to be evaluated, rather than treating all damage as equal. The third mode of damage, breach, is assessed by expert judgement to visually determine the severity level.

The damage severities for each of the 20 impacts for three-tab shingles or 40 impacts for architectural shingles are used to calculate the overall performance evaluation rating of a product for a given test size. IBHS publicly released results of the initial testing in June 2019. The published ratings provide the overall performance evaluation rating in addition to performance ratings by damage category.

The initial release included eight of the most widely-sold IR shingle products on the market. As part of the release, IBHS committed to retest the products every two years and to test new products introduced to the marketplace within six months of release. In October 2019, IBHS issued an update to the performance evaluation ratings, adding three newly released products to the list.

Summary

The IBHS Test Protocol differentiates the performance of widely-sold IR shingles currently on the market by replicating the properties of natural hailstones and providing a quantitative evaluation of performance. Moving beyond pass/fail testing provides more detailed performance information for consumers looking to purchase a better performing product, roofers looking to sell a better product and manufacturers who wish to improve their products.

As hail-related losses continue to rise, the IBHS Impact Resistance Test Protocol for Asphalt Shingles and its ability to more effectively determine which shingles may be more resilient to hail will help raise the level of performance and arm consumers in hail-prone regions with more information when selecting a roofing product.

To view the latest shingle performance ratings, visit www.ibhs.org/hail/shingle-performance-ratings.

About the author: Dr. Tanya Brown-Giammanco is the Managing Director of Research at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and has overseen the IBHS hail program since its inception in 2010. For more information on hail research, please visit ibhs.org.